Tuesday, December 17, 2013
How I Met Your Mother: "Bass Player Wanted"
Episode Synopsis: A guy at the wedding intentionally stirs up trouble among the gang; and the prodigal Marshall finally makes it to the Farhampton Inn. -tvguide
Spoilers below, so you might want to actually watch the episode before venturing further. Or not, it's entirely your choice. You could make worse choices, of course, including something that gets you arrested. They'll be slapping the handcuffs on your, and you'll think to yourself, "This is far worse than being spoiled on an episode of How I Met Your Mother." It's all about perspective.
Full Review: I had worried that The Mother would be a one-dimensional Mary Sue type character before tonight's episode. Thankfully, in an episode that finally gave us a better glimpse into who this woman is, we got to get to know her, both her great qualities and her faults. She's a lot more well-rounded by this episode's end, and she, and the show, are better for it.
Tonight The Mother finally got a story of her own, dealing with a fellow band member who is also "the devil." After picking up Marshall, and freaking him out by pretending to be psychic, she and Big Fudge bond while talking about Darren, her devilish nemesis (currently destroying the gang's relationships for fun.). I loved that while The Mother is a font of advice for others, she's not that great at dealing with her own issues. It's a very credible weakness, and I also liked how Marshall was the one to give her advice this time. She's becoming part of the group by not only being helpful, but by being helped.
While she's had some pretty good moments this season, I think my favorite thus far has been her sitting at the bar, ordering the "Kennedy Package," lamenting the unfairness of life. In this one scene we get to know her pain, struggles, and worldview. She's not the hero of this story. Ted is. She's just gotten herself involved with a group of crazy people, and she's going to fit right in.
Once more, the conceit of having her meet everyone before Ted is simply marvelous. We've seen before that Ted often dated women whom his friends hated. That was a huge indicator that they weren't right for each other. This time, with The Mother already becoming thick as thieves with Marshall (Marvin's first words were "Mommy,") we see why she's the woman of Ted's dreams. The writers are making a good choice to show, not just tell, and The Mother becomes more and more credible as this wondrous woman Ted is waiting for.
We also see the beginnings of Ted's romance with The Mother. Unbeknownst to him, he's fighting for her honor when he punches out "the devil" and sends him packing. For him, he's avenging the damage done to the group. For her, it's someone who laid down some Karmic justice on her behalf, and she buys the man a drink. I hope to see more of these moments as the show wraps up.
This episode's nemesis, Darren, whom I'll refer to as a Devilish Plot Device (DPD), wasn't anyone really worth remembering. This show has done well with one-shot guest stars in the past, but this guy was sadly one-dimensional. He did serve a good story purpose, though, mixing the pot so our characters could deal with the issues he brought up. His using Disney backstories for his own tragic history was a nice touch, but I am thankful that's the last we see of him.
I loved Ted this episode. In fact, Ted hasn't been this great in a long time. Despite DPD trying to mess up a very good friendship, Ted comes through for Barney. What begins as the usual HIMYM banter of deciding what "the dream" really is (a friend willing to go to jail for you) pays off when Ted commits a crime that would land him in jail. And he does it to make Barney happy.
I understand Barney being angry at Ted. His best friend is leaving him (did I mention Barney has severe abandonment issues?) the day after his wedding. Why wouldn't he feel betrayed. But rather than let this turn into a long, pointless fued, the two bros hash it out and get to the heart of Ted's decision: Robin. They don't have to say anything else and instead hug it out.
But the most emotional scene, one of the most raw and vulnerable of the entire series, happens after Robin and Lily patch things up. Robin gives Lily a chance to vent her anger at Marshall on Marshpillow, and as Lily is punching, kicking, and choking her proxy husband, her real husband shows up. It's the first time he's seen her since taking the judge position, and he sees the hurt, anger, betrayal, and every other kind of pain she's been going through.
For a moment, one frighting moment, you might think she's going to leave him again. That thought is probably going through her head. But it's also going through Marhsall's head, and then Lily says the only word that can ease the tension: "pause." It's one of the best Lily and Marshall moments of the series, and we see that despite Lily's anger, they're going to work it out somehow. But it's going to be one hell of a fight come "unpause."
Finally, of course, the episode ends on a cliffhanger that is hands-down (sorry, couldn't resist) awesome. Marshall decides to give Barney his present: the fourth slap. I can't wait to see where this goes.
This was a very strong episode that not only saw the gang reunited, but began the romance between Ted and the woman he's going to marry. Day two of the wedding weekend is over, and it looks like we're about to begin the third and final day. While this season has been pretty uneven in places, it's starting to pick up strength, and I'm looking forward to what happens next.
Best Bigfoot Fact: He quit smoking years ago
Best Justice: Aldrin Justice!
Best Dream: A pack of lions fighting a tyrannosaurus
Best Callback: As always, the slaps
Best Sagat Narration: "Kids, that's the first drink your mother ever bought me."