Tuesday, December 3, 2013

How I Met Your Mother: "The Rehearsal Dinner"

Quick Review: A very pleasant surprise

Episode Synopsis: Barney is shooting to have the rehearsal dinner at a laser-tag venue, while Lily is upset when Ted fails to live up to a promise. -tvguide

Spoilers ahead, so be very cautious before you proceed. I know, you see "spoiler alert" and you just have to charge ahead. You must be one of those people who can't help but push that button. That big, red, flashing, shiny button. It's human nature, really. In fact, maybe it wasn't an apple in the Garden of Eden, it was a button. Adam and Eve were told not to push the button. They could do anything else but push that button. Of course, eventually, they did push the button and got kicked out of the garden. What, you wanted a spoiler alert for that? Dude, there's a statute of limitations for spoiler alerts.

Full Review: This episode is a perfect analogy for why I keep watching How I Met Your Mother. In fact, I could see this as an apologia for the series itself: yes, sometimes things get very annoying and you want to give up, but don't, because it's all going to come together in the end. The show has 12 episodes left in its entire run, so let's see if it can pull off the fantastic ending it's promised us.

Followup episodes are tricky. Much like sequels, it's very difficult to recapture the magic of the first time around. Take Slap Bet, the best episode in the entire series' run. (No, that's not up for discussion.) Every subsequent Robin Sparkles followup was pretty amazing, but none could stand up to the greatness of "Let's go to the Mall." Slapsgiving was another classic episode. Slapsgiving 2: Revenge of the Slap was solid, but it didn't reach the heights of the first one. So how did this episode work out?

I would say that while it doesn't quite match the fun twists and turns of The Bro Mitzvah, it holds its own. I will admit that I didn't see the twist coming until Barney finally pushed the button, which is a credit to the episode since it was foreshadowing something like it the entire time. When you watch it a second time, all the pieces come together nicely. Barney makes Robin think he's ruined her perfect night, only to reveal that he's made it an even more perfect night.

I like how this addresses the topic of surprise in a long-term relationship. For Lily and Marshall, who are open about practically everything, surprise is something they get to leave behind as they grow closer together. It works for them, which is why Marshall's surprise judicial appointment is causing so many problems.

Barney and Robin are not that couple, nor should they be. We saw last time how bad things got when they tried to be a regular couple. This time around, they are playing by their own rules, from "The Robin" to constantly pulling awesome pranks on each other. (Except the bit with the puppies.) This is a couple who challenges each other, knowing that they are stronger when they try to outdo each other. While that won't work with all couples, it works for them.

Barney's admission that he is going to lie to her, but only to surprise her, was a very nice character moment for him. I was afraid that the writers had, once more, reverted him. Instead, we see Barney coming into his own as part of an awesome couple. That was nice.

I loved the ending celebration of Canada. After all the shots the gang has taken at Canada's expense these past nine years, for which Canada has apologized because, come on, it's Canada, this was a nice celebration of Robin's homeland. What better place than in an ice rink? It's a sweet moment that again fills my heart with home that the series will end on a high note, as we are only 6 hours away from Ted finally finishing that story.

I also love the fact that this episode didn't bury the most interesting story as it often does. The entire episode revolved around this surprise, and everything else, from Lily's inability to keep secrets to Ted's Liberace outfit, was in service of this main story. After the big reveal, I realized that this was a well-paced episode, and I commend it for that. Plus, any episode that gets Ted into a foolish getup is usually fine by me. (I was also a fan of Wayne Brady's dual Canadian costume, featuring both a Mountie and Robin Sparkles. That was a nice touch.)

Every once in a while, this show gets clever with background sequences. If you pay attention to the background in MacLarens as the gang mocks Canada, you'll see another story playing out. During Barney's tribute to Canada at the ice rink, watch as Robin's family partakes in one of their sacred traditions. I love it when this show gets clever.

This was a solid outing. True, we didn't get any more time with The Mother, but unlike previous episodes there wasn't really a place for her this time. I get that the show still wants to preserve the mystery and make her appearances special, but we're halfway through the final season, people, enough's enough.

Overall, despite some missteps, I have enjoyed this season quite a bit. If the rest of the season, and this series, really, can end as strongly as this episode, then we're in for a treat in 2014.

Episode Breakdown

Best Canadian Invention: The Paint Roller

Best Canadian Wedding Transportation: Stretch Dogled

Best Callback: Alan Thicke

Most Needed Deleted Scene: The entire Alan Thicke/Wayne Brady Crash Test Dummies Song

Best Sagat Narration: "Kids, it takes more than two months to learn how to figure skate."


No comments:

Post a Comment