Wednesday, November 11, 2009

HIMYM 5.07: "The Rough Patch"

“It was Legend . . . wait for it . . . s of the Fall.”


So I think I may have regained enough composure to write a thought-out thousand words on Monday’s HIMYM. And I think, even though there was some good, classic HIMYM silliness, my opinion of the episode is still overall negative. The fact that the writers did so little with the great potential a Barney/Robin relationship presents is just too big a problem with this episode, and even this season thus far, to overlook. I don’t quite mean this from a “Barney and Robin must be together at all costs because they’re so perfect together!” perspective, even though I do think they are especially suited to each other. I mean it from a “where did that come from, and how the heck did they get to that point” perspective. The story of Barney and Robin has been rife with out-of-character moments and rushed storytelling.

In this episode, the gang decides it’s their mission to break Barney and Robin up. They see how much Barney and Robin have changed in recent weeks, and they don’t like it. Ted’s concern in particular starts when Barney drops his porn collection off at Ted’s apartment. Which, now that I think about it, doesn’t quite make sense considering Ted’s apartment is Robin’s apartment too. He should have dropped it off at Dowisetrepla, since Marshall and Lily seemed just as enthusiastic about checking out the collection as Ted did. In fact, they even managed to sneak a video or two for themselves.

Ted’s concern kicks into high gear when he checks out a tape called “Archisexure” (bwahaha). Of course, the story of just how the tape got in his VCR has to be glossed over for his kids. Of course Ted tripped over the box of porn, and a tape that seemed to be architecture related just happened to fly precisely into the VCR. Anyway, the tape wasn’t actually architecture-themed porn- it was a message from Barney circa 2005. The message was actually pretty darn funny. Barney figured Ted would be drawn to “Archisexure” because he’s a nerd like that, so he wants to tell Ted that if Ted is in possession of that video, Barney must either be dead or…gasp…in a committed relationship. If dead, Barney wants Ted to take his body and recreate “Weekend at Bernie’s” in the Hamptons. If in a committed relationship, Barney wants out.

Ted talks it over with Marshall, who agrees that something must be done. Recently, Barney and Robin have been “letting themselves go.” This is depicted in exaggerated Ted-vision, much like Bob from “Slapsgiving” appeared to be in his mid-70’s instead of early 40’s. This means that Neil Patrick Harris spends almost the entire episode in a fat suit, and Cobie Smulders spends almost the entire episode in make-up that makes her look especially tired and not put together. What I don’t get is when did this happen? They looked perfectly normal last week, even if they were just starting to fight. Ted implies that they just got too comfortable with each other, and I want to know how that happens in one week? And how could Barney and Robin of all people let themselves get this way? More on that later.

Ted and Marshall turn to Lilly, mistress of relationship manipulation. She did break up several of Ted’s relationships, including his relationship with Robin, after all. Lily doesn’t want to participate, though. As they would say on The Wire (stay tuned for a post about Baltimore as depicted on TV during either holiday or summer hiatus, by the way), she’s “out the game.” Marshall and Ted are on their own. They try to recreate the ultimate Ted/Robin fight when Robin saw the engagement ring in her champagne glass, but they fail miserably. So miserably that Barney and Robin end up engaged. Not in a good way- more in a “ho hum, here’s a ring so why not?” way. The whole thing was just cringeworthy and not Barney and Robin at all.

Lily decides to come out of retirement to fix the mess. She wants to reenact Barney and Robin’s four biggest fights all at once. We’ve only ever seen one of these fights before, though, so that kind of takes half the fun out of it. Even in “The Bracket,” where some of the original-to-that-episode ideas for ways Barney has wronged women were more funny than what we’ve actually seen him do on the show, a few women from past episodes made it to the final four anyway. HIMYM is nothing without its continuity. The only good thing about Lily’s plan is how silly it is. It involves Alan Thicke and a Storm Trooper. Only she couldn’t get somebody in an actual Storm Trooper costume, so they had to settle for Robbie the Robot.

The scenes that take place in the surveillance “van” (actually a station wagon, since it cost $25 less and Ted thought that was a good deal) were the only parts of this episode that were true, vintage HIMYM where everybody was actually acting in character. It was pandemonium. As each participant in the plan arrived, Lily had them get in the back of the car. Everybody is kept waiting in the car much longer than they want to be because Lily is convinced Barney and Robin saw them. Eventually, the plan is put in motion, but instead of fighting, Barney and Robin kiss. Lily is convinced that they must really be in love and she was wrong to meddle. It turns out, though, that the whole time they were in the diner the rest of the gang were staking out, Barney and Robin were breaking up. They didn’t see the car, they saw themselves reflected in the restaurant window, and they didn’t like what they saw.

Robin breaks the news to the gang back at MacLaren’s, and they want to know if Barney is okay. Robin thinks he will be. I did kind of enjoy what happened next, even if the events that led to it made me angry. We see an homage to the cuff-link and tie adjusting, winking Origins of Barney sequence from “Game Night” as ReAwesomed!Barney enters MacLaren’s and declares “Daddy’s home!” As much as I liked that little scene (because, really, who can resist a Neal Patrick Harris wink?), it’s a great segue into part two of my rant. Why and how could Barney and Robin have let themselves go like that? Robin is a TV news reporter, and Barney is a business executive who is constantly meeting with clients. Their appearances are important to them. There’s no way that the Barney and Robin of seasons 1-4 would ever let that happen.

And I think it’s false to blame their relationship for the change, too. Barney and Robin feel that two awesomes cancel each other out, but I don’t think that has to be the case. Maybe they do if they try to fit into the mold of a traditional relationship, but I think (and hope) that in time, Barney and Robin will find something that truly works for them. That was the promise of Barney and Robin getting together- that HIMYM would showcase a different type of couple to contrast to Marshall and Lily- but that obviously never happened.

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