Tuesday, September 21, 2010

HIMYM 6.01: "Big Days"

“You saucy little minx. You sundressed up.”

So, the Fall 2010 television started last night, and although I was stuck in a statistics classs, I’m bringing the recaps to you thanks to my lovely DVR. If you haven’t already been able to tell, I’m back in school in addition to working, so the scope of what I’m going to cover on MTVP this season is going to be scaled back a little. One show whose recaps are not going away, however, is HIMYM. It had its ups and downs last year (mostly downs, sadly), but I almost always had strong feelings about it. That makes it perfect blog fodder for me. Overall, I found “Big Days” to be an enjoyable enough episode. It wasn’t quite as good as HIMYM in its glory days, and there are some elements of the episode that completely fall apart if you think about them too much, but it made me laugh, and it had heart. Heart is something that I think much of last season sorely lacked.

Anyway, the episode opens with Saget!Ted telling the kids that there are two big days in a person’s life, the day you meet the person you’re going to marry, and the day you marry them. We cut to a church, where Ted is sitting outside, Marshall brings him a beer, and we’re led to believe that this is Ted’s wedding. We then flash back to MacLaren’s, where most of the episode takes place. This episode is essentially a “bottle show” (an episode that relies heavily on existing sets), which I think was an interesting choice for a season premiere, which TV producers generally try to make bigger than the average episode. On the positive side, setting almost the entire show in MacLaren’s kind of got things back to basics. It led to a focus on our core characters and their interactions. Barney is on one of his typical tangents, lamenting the fact that women are beginning to turn to less skimpy fall clothing, when he notices Ted isn’t paying attention. Ted is captivated by a woman sitting at the bar reading a book. Before Ted has a chance to make a move, Barney calls “dibs” on her.

In other news, Marshall and Lily are all set to start trying for a baby. Lily’s got the candles and the music (which was a hilarious country banjo selection) ready. Marshall ruins the whole thing though by letting on to Lily that he told his dad they were going to start trying. Lily is creeped out that Marshall would share so much with his parents. Actually, the way Lily found out about Marshall’s sharing was pretty funny. A bassinet made by Marshall’s father shows up at Dowisetrepla. When they join Ted and Barney at MacLaren’s they spend most of their time arguing about what happened and Marshall’s unusual attachment to his parents. This was an amusing plot line, although I kind of wish the writers hadn’t pulled the bit about Marshall calling his dad constantly out of thin air. Yeah, we knew Marshall was close to his family (he does do virtual Sunday dinners with them, after all), but we’ve never seen it quite this extreme before. Oh, and it turns out Marshall told everybody at the office, too. I have to admit where the scene where his coworkers throw a sort of “good luck making a baby” rally for him as he leaves the office was pretty darn hilarious.

Anyway, the MacLaren’s material in the middle of the episode contained all the usual elements of an especially funny HIMYM episode. There’s the beginnings of a classic Barney lecture on social phenomena. This one is how “dibs” was invented by “Sir Francis Dibs.” We see a quick shot of a boat before Barney gets cut off, which makes the whole thing funnier. There’s also Barney continuing to insist, just as he did back in Season 1, that he’s Ted’s best friend, not Marshall. Actually, in this particular instance, Barney is talking about how if Ted married the girl from the bar, he would say “I had dibs!” in his best man toast. The conversation turns to Ted wondering if the girl at the bar is “putting up shields” by reading a book. Robin then walks into the bar most definitely “putting up shields.” She’s an absolute mess, still recovering from her break-up with Don by wearing sweats and eating a constant diet of fast food. This was probably my least favorite plot thread of the episode, because I’m tired of plots about Robin that only revolve around her hotness (or lack thereof). It gets even worse when Barney tells Robin that he loves her, but she’s passed her “hotness expiration date.” That was just unbelievably cruel, even for Barney, especially considering that he’s always had a soft spot for Robin.

Ted’s imaginary future with the girl at the bar starts to unravel when Cindy (Rachel Bilson’s character who is the Mother’s roommate) walks up to her and they start chatting. Ted’s last interaction with Cindy didn’t go well, but he wonders if the girl at the bar is her roommate who sounded so perfect. Marshall and Lily, meanwhile, have moved their baby conversation to a private booth. Lily thinks Marshall’s dad is over involved, and she wants Marshall to tell him that they’re not trying for a baby anymore. Marshall refuses to do this, and when Lily gets upset at his revelation that his parents were planning to come live with them for a few months after the baby is born, Marshall storms out of MacLaren’s. In all the commotion, Cindy spots Ted. Despite Ted’s worries, Cindy is actually nice to Ted and says that things have been going well for her lately. She feels like her relationship with Ted taught her some important things, and she would like to thank Ted. Ted tells her that she can thank him by setting him up with a friend, and he’s excited that she doesn’t seem offended by that. She tells Ted to be sure to say goodbye to her before he leaves.

Meanwhile, Lily conferences with Barney about the whole Marshall oversharing with his father debacle. Barney shows a brief moment of humanity (always welcome) when he tells Lily that if he had his dad’s phone number, he would “never not be on the phone with him.” I wonder if this is the set-up to a season-long arc of Barney in search of his dad. I would definitely approve of that. Barney goes back to his usual crude ways in several seconds though, at least until he’s captivated by Robin walking back into MacLaren’s more cleaned up and wearing a dress. She walks up to the bar and a guy hits on her in about 14 seconds (as Barney is staring and in shock that she “sundressed up”). Robin brushes the guy off immediately and goes to gloat to Barney about how she’s still got it. I still don’t like that this was another plot revolving around Robin’s perceived hotness, but Neil Patrick Harris’ subtle performance as he notices and reacts to Robin’s return made the scene shine for me.

Lily and Marshall meet up on the stoop, and they have a real conversation about what went wrong between them in this fight. Marshall takes a phone call from his dad in the middle of it, and when his dad starts getting really over enthusiastic, Marshall hangs up on him. Lily says that Marshall has that enthusiasm too, and that’s what she loves about him. The real reason Lily’s been so touchy about the whole subject is that she’s worried she won’t be able to have kids, and if she can’t have a baby, she thinks she’ll let Marshall and his whole family down. Marshall reassures Lily that she could never let him down. It was a really sweet moment between them.

We wrap up the episode at MacLaren’s, where Ted’s thinking he’s going to be introduced to the girl at the bar. Instead, he’s shocked to see Cindy kiss her. Saget!Ted tells us that Cindy and that woman end up having kids together. We then flash again to Marshall and Ted outside of the church in the future, and someone opens the door and calls for Ted as the best man. So this isn’t Ted’s wedding after all. We’re left wondering just whose wedding it is. My reaction to that was, precisely, “GAH!!!” Yeah, I’m so articulate when it comes to HIMYM. I’m wondering if it’s Barney and Robin’s wedding, although I always hoped they wouldn’t be traditional enough to feel they needed a wedding. There is the matter of their seemingly renewed affection for each other, and they are the only characters suspiciously absent from the wedding scenes. And there’s the matter of Ted being the best man. After the conversation between the guys earlier in this episode, I certainly believe Ted would be Barney’s best man. Anyway, Saget!Ted tells us that this wedding is where he actually met the Mother.

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