Saturday, November 28, 2009

HIMYM 5.09: "Slapsgiving 2: Revenge of the Slap"

“Life is short. I figured slape diem.”


Overall, I found “Slapsgiving 2” to be a rather lackluster sequel to one of my very favorite episodes of HIMYM and a rather anticlimactic continuation of one of my favorite running gags on the show- the Marshall/Barney Slap Bet. A hilarious comedic performance (and directorial debut in the episode’s tag) by Neil Patrick Harris and a few other isolated entertaining moments saved the episode from complete failure. I did laugh during the half-hour, although not nearly as much as I hoped to.

Marshall accidentally left the Thanksgiving turkey in the back of a cab, and as a token of his gratitude for going to the Port Authority to get the turkey from the Lost and Found, Marshall jointly awards Ted and Robin the long awaited Fourth Slap. Marshall has decided that this year should once again be Slapsgiving, and he has a chair, designated as the “Slapping Throne” where Barney will sit for the event. At first, Ted and Robin are both ecstatic about the idea of getting to slap Barney, and they argue over who will get to deliver the actual slap.

Meanwhile, Marshall has thrown another, quite big, wrench in Thanksgiving. He invited Lily’s dad, Mickey, a perpetually unsuccessful board game designer of such titles as “Tiajuana Slumlord,” “Car Battery,” and my personal favorite “There’s a Clown Demon Under My Bed.” Mickey is one of the few people to have been on the receiving end of Lily’s “you’re dead to me” look. Channeling another of Alyson Hannigan’s characters, Dark Willow, Lily’s eyes glow red, she breathes heavily, and the object of her ire poofs away in a cloud of smoke and sparks. It’s pretty amusing, mostly because of the pretty obvious Buffy the Vampire Slayer shout out.

Mickey in particular received the Look when he moved back in with his parents after his roommate expected him to actually pay rent. Lily’s grandparents cancelled their move to Florida, and Lily’s grandfather had to go back to work at the steel mill. I’m trying to ignore how this family backstory doesn’t really fit with the characterization of Lily, but it’s hard. Lily has never really seemed like she comes from a blue collar background (she has what seems like a long standing love of designer clothes, for instance), and in “Something Borrowed,” she specifically mentioned making a change in the wedding music plans because a harpist’s father owed her dad a favor. That doesn’t jive with Mickey not being invited to the wedding, as he claims in this episode. It makes me sad that HIMYM is getting so sloppy, when the near-flawless continuity is one of the things that really stand out about the first few seasons.

It was only mildly entertaining to find out some of the other occasions when Lily has used the Look. One was a neighbor who stole the newspaper, and the other was the proprietor of the bodega downstairs who served her regular coffee instead of decaf, keeping her up all night. It is interesting that it doesn’t take much for Lily to cut a person out of her life entirely.

The Slap Bet part of the plot did provide more laughs, mostly because of Barney’s antics. He took advantage of every possible way to delay the inevitable, provoking arguments between Robin and Ted. One of my favorite parts was when he wailed about getting crows feet from all the flinching he’s doing every time Robin or Ted move. It’s really a physical comedy master class. Another entertaining bit was when he got sinister, half channeling Hannibal Lechter and half channeling Dr. Horrible, in an attempt to throw Robin off her game, saying that all she really wanted was a man to protect her and a pretty white wedding dress.

Marshall is insistent that Mickey be invited in for Thanksgiving dinner, because he’s part of Marshall’s family now too. As Mickey enters Dowisetripla, Lily leaves. Mickey doesn’t seem especially concerned, and he gets the rest of the gang involved in a round of his newest board game, “Diseases.” As the game goes on, Marshall becomes more and more uncomfortable about the fact that Mickey could care less about where Lily has gone. Marshall ends up attempting his own version of the Look, and he kicks Mickey out before going to find Lily.

Lily is in Mr. Park’s bodega, extremely upset. She appreciates that Marshall decided to finally respect her wishes, but she’s having second thoughts about the whole “dead to me” concept. Mr. Park has actually passed away since Lily last patronized the bodega, and she’s realized that if she feels this bad about cutting someone out of her life that she barely knew, she would feel absolutely awful if she never reconciled with her dad. Marshall and Lily leave the bodega to go find Mickey and bring him back to Thanksgiving.

Once everyone is once again situated around the Thanksgiving table, it’s time to deal with Slap Four once and for all. First, Robin decides to give it to Ted as a symbol of how far he has come since getting left at the altar and losing his job. Barney looks so pathetic cowering in anticipation of the slap, however, that Ted can’t go through with it. Ted gifts the slap to Robin, rightly figuring she might have some pent-up frustration about her break-up with Barney that she needs to release. Robin can’t bring herself to slap him either. Neither can Mickey or Lily.

Marshall reveals that this was all part of his plan. He wanted Slap Four to bring the gang closer together, and he has succeeded. He unties Barney from the Slapping Throne and tells him there will be no slaps that day. Just as Barney lets out a sigh of relief, Marshall delivers Slap Four, and Neil Patrick Harris does a hilarious pratfall across the dining room. I do sort of wish Marshall had found a better occasion for Slap Four. A retread of the epic Slap Three feels sort of lazy, and surely there’s a time when, much like Slap Two, Barney has annoyed Marshall enough for Marshall to want to deliver a slap.

Neil Patrick Harris got a chance to direct the highly amusing tag to the episode, and it helps smooth over some of the episode’s problems. It’s a commercial for Aldrin Games’ first hit board game, “Slap Bet.” It’s a great parody of the board game commercials I remember seeing as I watched Nickelodeon in the 90’s, and the best part is that the whole thing is set to a more pop, upbeat version of Marshall’s Slapsgiving song, “You Just Got Slapped.”

No comments:

Post a Comment