Thursday, November 5, 2009

HIMYM 5.06: "Bagpipes"

“Hell, I've forgotten more about microwaving fat free popcorn and watching Sandra Bullock movies than you'll ever know. But, thanks for your concern, Rook.”


Overall, “Bagpipes” was a fairly high quality episode of HIMYM. Some of the jokes, however, although funny at first, upon reflection seem empty. The episode was a bit of a “greatest hits” attempt to just throw in a few nods to running jokes that the writers know we HIMYM fans love. The first half of the episode made me laugh quite a bit, but the second half just made me sad. I like that HIMYM isn’t afraid to go for emotional depth now and then, but I usually look to HIMYM to be my pick-me-up if I’m in a lousy mood. Serious trouble brewing for Barney and Robin is certainly not going to make me a happy camper, even if I completely expected it to happen sooner or later.

The three stories in “Bagpipes” all centered around the theme of assertiveness. It was all about the lengths to which characters were willing to go to get what they wanted, be it peace and quiet or freedom from dish washing. Ted, for instance, wanted to confront his upstairs neighbors because they were quite noisy when, as Saget!Ted put it, they were “Bagpiping.” “Bagpiping” is the new “Sandwich” in the world of HIMYM, I suppose, complete with actual bagpipe music. It was pretty funny, at least the first few times, but I wonder if it wasn’t a bit of a desperate pander to nerds like me who will actually say “Haha, it’s like when they say ‘eating a sandwich!’”

Barney also decided that Marshall needed to be more assertive with Lily. Barney frantically revealed to Ted one evening at MacLarens that he was convinced Marshall and Lily would be getting a divorce soon. Ted was concerned until he heard Barney’s reasoning. Barney was freaked out that he saw Lily ask Marshall to wash a dish and Marshall immediately wash the dish without question. Ted tries to reassure Barney that Lily and Marshall are just fine, but Barney isn’t having it. Mashall hates to wash dishes, and Barney is convinced that if asked to do it again, Marshall will resent it so much that he will divorce Lily. Marshall eventually arrives at MacLaren’s and echoes Ted- Marshall’s not going anywhere over some dirty dishes. Ted then realizes what this is about. Now that Barney is in a relationship, Barney thinks he knows what the ideal relationship should be like, and he’s being smug about it. Kind of ironic considering that’s the role Lily and Marshall usually play.

Naturally, the other guys want to know how Barney and Robin manage to never, ever argue. They each actually employ different methods. Barney walks away. Robin gets naked. I will say that this arrangement does seem pretty in character for Barney and Robin. They aren’t the two most emotionally functional people in the world, so avoidance seems like something they’d go for. But that’s part of their charm.

Barney then tells Marshall how he would solve the not-wanting-to-do-the-dishes situation, and what follows is a hilarious fantasy sequence where Barney is married to an uber-housewife version of Lily. He comes up with two hilarious, but, of course, misogynistic, lines of reasoning for why he shouldn’t have to wash a dish immediately after he uses it. The “my mom went to ten years of night school to get her Bachelor’s degree while I was a little kid” feminist in me cringed a bit, but it’s Barney, who is a bit of a caricature, so I felt okay chuckling at it a bit. Against his, and Ted’s, better judgment, Marshall decides that he must take Barney’s advice and stand up to Lily on the dish washing issue. Ted is convinced it won’t end well, so what does he do? Make a slap bet! This was another one of those call back jokes that made me happy for a bit until I realized it was a cheap play at nostalgia.

Marshall shows up at Ted’s door later that night. His attempt at assertiveness didn’t go well, and he got into a massive fight with Lily. Ted first slaps Marshall, then lets him in because he’s a good friend like that. As Marshall explains it, when he and Lily have a fight over something, they remember all the other little things that have been annoying them about each other, and the fights multiply exponentially. This concept is nicely illustrated by many, many arguing Lily and Marshalls on the screen. Some of their arguments are actually pretty funny.

Meanwhile, Barney and Robin have gone away for the weekend on a ski vacation. When they get back, they’re more sickeningly lovey dovey than ever, and Ted knows something is up. He really knows something is up when Barney and Robin call each other by nicknames. He knows from his time dating Robin that she absolutely hates nicknames. The truth soon comes out. Barney and Robin got in an argument on a ski lift where they could neither run away nor get naked, and everything just kind of imploded.

Listening to just how bad Barney and Robin’s argument got, with the screaming and the throwing things at one another over stuff like ruined ties, Lily and Marshall reconcile quickly. They realized just how good they had it. Lily gently (instead of her usual MO of manipulation) tries to encourage Barney and Robin to talk through their differences. They say they’ll give it a shot, but as soon as they leave Dowisetrepla, they want to go back to their comfy world of fun and avoidance.

It’s painfully clear at this point that Barney and Robin, or at least this iteration of them, won’t last much longer. They’re two stubborn, independent people, and they haven’t yet reached the point where they’re willing to moderate that at all. At this point, all we Barnman and Robin fans can do is hope the inevitable split is just a stepping stone to a healthier relationship between the two sometime in the future.

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