Saturday, March 13, 2010

HIMYM 5.17: "Of Course"

“I was going through my mourning period. It was a lot of Scotch, and a lot of long nights at the shooting range.”

I have to say, I freaking loved this episode of HIMYM. It could be that I was just extremely glad to see Barney acting sort of like a person again instead of a caricature. What had made many episodes of HIMYM this season almost unwatchable to me was the disrespect with which the writers had been treating the character of Barney. Sure Barney was mostly a catch phrase delivery system in the show’s earliest episodes, but as early as season 1’s “Game Night,” it was obvious that something more was going on under the surface. This was only confirmed in season 2 episodes that dealt with Barney’s rough childhood and Barney’s pining for Robin through part of season 3 and all of season 4. I truly enjoyed moments that exposed Barney’s vulnerability, because Neil Patrick Harris plays them so well. Sure, I think it’s funny when Barney makes the occasional rude joke, but it’s what’s going on under the surface that makes the womanizer show he puts on at all palatable.

This episode uses a bit of in media res, which I don’t think, for all its zipping around the timeline, HIMYM uses all that often. The cops have just pulled Barney out of the Hudson River, and he’s telling them how he got there in the first place. It all started with “a dame.” This particular dame’s name is Anita, and she’s played by Jennifer Lopez. They have a lot of really hilarious banter at MacLaren's, such as talking about the small fiber(s in Barney’s suit) and Barney being so floored by something she says that he finds a stool and sits on it just so he can fall off in shock. She teases him all night and makes him think he’ll be getting lucky, but at the end of the night, she just walks out of his apartment. Barney is confused and unhappy about that.

Ted thinks he knows exactly what’s going on. Robin left a book called Of Course You’re Single, Take a Look at Yourself, You Dumb Slut lying around the apartment, and Anita’s tricks are right out of the book. Barney is thrilled to hear this, because he thinks he can find a loophole in the book to convince Anita to sleep with him sooner than after 17 dates (one of the rules in the book). A loophole is nowhere to be found, however, and he’s getting desperate. Ted has an idea: a Super Date. He thinks Barney should pack 17 dates worth of romance into one night. He even sings a song about it, which made me extremely happy. Usually Neil Patrick Harris is the member of the cast associated with singing chops, but Josh Radnor can bring it too. His Super Date song was both funny and schmaltzy. The funniest part of the bit was that after singing it, Ted and Barney look at each other and decide they need to go to a strip club.

Meanwhile, Lily and Marshall meet Don for the first time, and for some reason, Marshall really loves the guy. He’s really pushing Robin to start dating him. At one point, when Don calls Robin, Marshall picks up the phone and pretends to be Robin just so he can make a date between Robin and Don. The only redeeming thing about that scene is that Robin tackles Marshall to try to get him to stop- that’s pretty darn hilarious. It’s not only the fact that Don is coming between Robin and Barney that I mind- I mind that we’re getting a massive violation of the number one rule of creative writing. Show, don’t tell. I really haven’t seen anything to make me understand why Marshall loves Don so much. I haven’t even really seen anything to make me understand why Robin would consider dating him, other than that one day he finally decided to put on some pants and care a little about work. That’s like bare minimum to be a functioning human being in my book.

Robin’s pretty excited about going on a date with Don, even if she had been reluctant at first, until Ted tells her about the “Super Date.” Then she gets upset and goes to cry in the bathroom. Marshall and Lily have to explain to Ted that Robin has only just gotten out of her “mourning period” post break-up with Barney. This was actually the continuation of a running bit from earlier in the episode. Robin revealed to Marshall and Lily that she specifically asked Anita to go after Barney the way that she did. Anita is the author of the "Dumb Slut" book and was on Robin’s show to promote it. When Robin told Anita what she had gone through with Barney’s post break-up antics, Anita offered to “break him.” Anyway, Marshall was surprised Robin had been taking the break-up hard, and he felt bad about singing a “bangity bang” song about how much sex Barney had been having lately. When Marshall and Lily tell Ted what’s going on with Robin, he regrets joining in on the “bangity bang” song, too.

The gang finds Robin crying in the bathroom and try to comfort her. Then they head right for Barney’s apartment. Where Marshall proceeds to knock the head off of Barney’s Storm Trooper armor. He says it’s because “I’m angry at you, I’m angry at me, I’m angry at Ted, and, frankly, I’m still angry at the Empire.” Which cracked me up. Of course Marshall would still be angry at the Empire. Barney is actually pretty upset that he didn’t notice what Robin has been going through. And that he joined in on the “bangity bang” song too…while playing the spoons (which really makes the whole gag). Yay for Barney finally showing a bit of humanity again!

Barney knows exactly where to find Robin to make his apologies- the shooting range. Robin has been feeling like just another notch in Barney’s bed post, and Barney tries his best to convince her that she meant more to him than the random women he hooks up with and brags about. He’s serious, and he’s going to show her just how serious that is. He promises he won’t sleep with Anita. And he’s going to give Robin the Super Date. And at this point, I’ll admit I was definitely getting pretty teary. Even though I knew it wouldn’t be Robin and Barney going on the Super Date. It would be Robin and Don.

Barney keeps his promise, and simply saying “no” to Anita makes her suddenly desperate to sleep with him. She whispers something dirty in his ear, and the only way he can keep his promise to Robin is to walk out of MacLaren’s and take a dive into the Hudson. As Barney finishes telling his story to the cop and gets a $500 ticket for his trouble, he sees fireworks go off over the river. He knew watching the fireworks from the roof top was the end of the Super Date, and he genuinely hopes everything he went through that night so Robin could be happy was worth it. And you’ll have to excuse me while I go get a tissue.

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