Monday, September 28, 2009

The 15 Most Legendary Episodes of How I Met Your Mother: Part II

New HIMYM is on tonight! Time to sing a rousing chorus of “You Just Got Slapped!” Marshall’s little Thanksgiving ditty is an especially appropriate song choice as I continue my list of the 15 most legendary episodes of HIMYM. This week, we cover my favorite Season 2 episodes and get a bit of a jump on Season 3 as well, including, of course, “Slapsgiving.” Enjoy!

Part I


“I signed him up for People en Español, but I addressed it to ‘Swarlos.’”


“Swarley” features great comedic performances from both Neil Patrick Harris and Alyson Hannigan. A barista accidentally writes “Swarley” on Barney’s coffee cup, so the gang starts calling him Swarley and setting up elaborate practical jokes to have other people call him Swarley. Barney’s irritation at this is both hilarious and pathetic at the same time. In a rare opportunity for Alyson Hannigan to really show off her comedic chops, however, this story really belongs to Lily. Marshall has decided to start dating again for the first time since he and Lily broke up six months ago, and Lily is not pleased. She ends up stalking Chloe, the girl Marshall is seeing, and making Chloe think a hunchback is after her (long story, which involves what is possibly Alyson Hannigan’s best comedic performance of the entire series). The episode ends with Marshall and Lily back together in a sweet scene that calls back to the Season 1 finale, when Marshall was sitting on the stoop, despondent because Lily had just left him.

Slap Bet

“Ted, even if she is married, it's a Canadian marriage. It's like their money, or their Army. Nobody takes it seriously.”


Although it doesn’t rank quite as highly on my list, Slap Bet is pretty much universally thought of as the best episode of HIMYM. Even if it’s not my all time favorite, though, it has definitely earned a spot on this list. I love the joke about how the 80’s didn’t get to Canada until ‘93, and speaking of 80’s goodness, I love the Robin Sparkles video. “Let’s Go to the Mall!” never fails to make me laugh and get me out of a bad mood. The slap bet between Marshall and Barney really showcases the physical comedy chops of Jason Segel and Neil Patrick Harris. Both of them certainly know how to take a slap and make it look both funny and painful at the same time. This episode is also one of the earlier indications of just why Ted and Robin are completely wrong for each other. Ted is much more of a romantic than Robin, and Robin believes in keeping a few secrets. Ted subscribes more to Marshall and Lily’s policy of sharing every little detail.

Something Borrowed

“Marshall’s dad is convinced that if we have an outdoor wedding in New York…he’s gonna get mugged.”


The end of this episode never fails to make me a bit teary. It’s Marshall and Lily’s wedding day, and pretty much everything that can go wrong does. The couple originally wanted a very small outdoor wedding with acoustic guitar music, but they’re at a fancy house with over 100 people and music provided by a very pregnant harpist. If that wasn’t enough, Lily’s veil is destroyed, Lily’s ex-boyfriend, Scooter, shows up to profess his love, the photographer gets tackled when one of Marshall’s law school friends is trying to get rid of Scooter, and the flowers are late to arrive. Lily is not having a good day, and neither is Marshall. He experiences a major hair disaster that results in some pretty funny sight gags. What really makes this episode, however, is the end, where the gang is all taking a quiet moment outside before the ceremony, and they decide to put on the wedding Marshall and Lily originally wanted before the “real” wedding. Barney officiates, Ted and Robin are witnesses, and a nearby guy who randomly has an acoustic guitar provides the music. Barney gets quite choked up trying to officiate the ceremony, and when I’m watching it, so do I.

How I Met Everyone Else

“Really? Sixteen ‘nos?’ Really?”


This episode is fun look at how the gang all met. Ted has a new girlfriend, and he warns his friends that he met the new girl on the Internet, and she is embarrassed about that. One of the best things about this episode is that we get to see Barney tell another of his theories about women, complete with special effects. This time, it’s the “Hot/Crazy Scale.” Barney air-draws a chart to illustrate the concept, complete with lines and boundaries named for especially crazy women he has dated. The flashbacks to how the gang all met are all very funny. We start with the college meet-up of Ted and Marshall, which is the first time the show uses the phrase “eating a sandwich” when describing some of Ted and Marshall’s college exploits. I especially liked the first meeting of Ted and Barney, where all is not as it seems. Barney remembered it as Ted using sign language to help him get a girl’s phone number. Ted remembers it as using sign language to tell the girl to give Barney a fake phone number. It’s really a great example of the show’s overall theme about the fallibility of memory.


“Please. You took out all the suspense. In a horror movie, the killer does not grab a bullhorn and announce, ‘Attention unsupervised teens here at the lake house: at precisely 3 AM, I’m gonna jump out of that closet right there and hack you all up with a machete. P.S. Fire is my one weakness.’”


I love this episode for two major reasons. First is the “friends are the family we choose for ourselves” vibe, and the second is the awesome “You Just Got Slapped” duet with Jason Segel and Neil Patrick Harris. Having a group of friends as close as the HIMYM gang is a special thing, and “Slapsgiving” showcased that nicely. I’m reminded of my very tight knit group of friends from college and the annual Thanksgiving dinner (actually the week before Thanksgiving) that the university would hold for us. We’d have our petty disagreements sometimes, but moments like Thanksgiving dinners were truly special. “Slapsgiving” sees plenty of problems among the members of the group (mostly that Ted and Robin don’t know how to just be friends), but by the end, everybody’s worked things out and they start a tradition that lasts decades. I also, of course, can never resist a good song, and “You Just Got Slapped,” which follows Marshall’s third slap out of five that he earned in “Slap Bet” is one of my favorite HIMYM moments. It’s so over the top and played for laughs that it works in its own way. There’s the group all smiling at each other, Lily hugging Marshall as he sings, and of course Barney singing back-up as he groans in pain from the slap.

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