Sunday, October 10, 2010

HIMYM 6.03: "Unfinished"

“Done with that.”

“Unfinished” seemed to get a pretty mixed reaction in the online community, but I have to say that overall, I liked it. Some of the attempts at humor were a bit over-the-top silly, but it still feels like this episode was constructed with more care than many Season 5 episodes. I know “better than Season 5” isn’t an especially rigorous standard, but I love what this show once was enough that I’m willing to be somewhat forgiving. The title explains the theme of the episode pretty literally- it’s all about what we leave unfinished. Mostly this episode focused on the unfinished nature of Ted’s career as a practicing architect and Robin’s relationship with Don. As for the latter, I’m really, really, really hoping that this episode’s events mean we never need speak of it again. If that’s the case, I will love this episode on principle for that alone.

The episode opens with a scene of in media res where Ted is lecturing too his students about a famous, unfinished building. Most of the unfinished business of the episode, however, centers around Robin. She apparently has some amazing TV package that lets her see Don on the news in Chicago, and when she sees him, it makes her a bit…stabby. Robin thought she had moved on, but seeing Don on TV led her to calling him and leaving him a drunken rant and death threats on his voice mail. The death threats are kind of funny at first, but it quickly escalates into kind of creepy and disturbing. The sort of thing Robin should probably be investigated by police for. Robin also mentions at one point that she’ll go to Chicago, kill Don, and see a Bears game. Which doesn’t make sense to me, considering Robin has never really shown interest in football. She should have wanted to take in a Blackhawks game. Anyway, Robin tried to play it off to her friends like she truly was over Don, but Lily sees right through it, thanks to a certain look on Robin’s face. Lily compares it to the look on the face of her childhood dog after he had pooped somewhere in the house. She spends much of the episode asking Robin “Where’s the poop?” which gets kind of annoying.

Lily encourages Robin to delete Don’s number from her cell phone, and we get several fake-outs where it looks like Robin has actually done this. She keeps on calling Don and embarrassing herself. Finally, Robin tells Lily she will delete Don’s phone number if Lily will delete one number from her own phone. Robin wants Marshall to do this, too. It gives both Marshall and Lily a chance to reflect on small moments from their past that they’ve chosen to preserve through their contacts lists. The number Lily is asked to delete is the number to “her dojo.” When Robin calls her on it being ridiculous that she has a dojo, we see a flashback to the one time Lily actually went there. She was surprised to see that the martial arts class she signed up for was all kids. It was a rare occasion for Alyson Hannigan to really show off her comedic chops. For Marshall, the number he had to delete was for the booker at the club where his “all lawyer funk band” played once four years ago (when Marshall was still a law student, I might add). This was pretty funny too, although not as funny as the Lily in martial arts class bit. Marshall and Lily resist a little at first, but they do eventually agree it’s time to end that chapter of their lives, and they delete the numbers.

Meanwhile, Barney spends much of the episode trying to convince Ted to go back to his former life. Barney visits Ted while he’s teaching at Columbia and brings a gift. The gift is Ted’s old plans for the new Goliath National Bank headquarters. If you’re a HIMYM nerd like me, you’ll recall that in Season 4, Ted was contracted to design the GNB headquarters, only to have GNB hire Sven instead at the last minute. Silly Sven and their silly fire-breathing dragon building plan. Anyway, the plan for the headquarters is back on, and Barney wants Ted to be the architect again. Ted says he thinks his answer is going to be no. He’s happy with his life as a professor, and he doesn’t think he wants to go back, even though designing a building in the New York skyline was a dream.

Ted’s rejection leads Barney to take a very interesting, and fairly funny, course of action. He starts “putting the moves” on Ted like he would any random woman at MacLaren’s that he wanted to sleep with. He “always gets the yes” with the ladies, so he’s convinced that his techniques will work to get Ted to design the GNB building, too. The first step is ignoring Ted. Specifically, Barney ignores Ted when Ted is going on a rant about the architecture of the Death Star. My inner nerd most definitely appreciated this. There is also the backhanded compliment, put down about himself that is actually bragging, intense eye contact, and physical contact. Ted sees through all this for the “moves” they are, but he does enjoy the extra attention for sure. Ted remains steadfast in his refusal to participate. This leads Barney to try a different move. He tells Ted that’s fine because GNB has hired someone else.

This last tactic gets to Ted. Marshll provides confirmation, telling Ted that he just drew up the paperwork for the new employee. That makes Ted start having serious second thoughts. He busts into Barney’s office and tells him he wants the job and would be willing to design the building for half price. It doesn’t take long for Marshall to tell the truth, though. He was acting as Barney’s wingman. This brings Ted back down to Earth. He tells Marshall that designing a building for the New York skyline isn’t is dream anymore, and letting go of that dream was a good thing for him. Ted does change his mind one more time, though. We’re back to him giving the lecture about the unfinished building. Just as he’s wrapping it up, something clicks in his brain. Ted runs out of the classroom and almost gets hit by a bus (like the architect he was teaching his class about) on his way to Barney’s office. He accepts the job, but first he makes Barney take him to dinner, something Barney says he never, ever does for women.

We end the episode on Robin. Earlier, she had told Lily that you “can’t delete contacts from your brain.” In Robin’s mind (not in the viewers’, considering Don has always been all tell and no show), the relationship ended too fast, and Robin thinks it will always be a loose end. In the end though, Robin goes to call Don after seeing him on the news yet again, and she realizes she dialed the wrong number. She has truly, finally forgotten Don’s phone number. I sincerely hope this means she has finally moved on. Of course, I’m hoping this is the beginning of a story arc for Robin that takes her back to Barney, who has also matured since they last gave a relationship a go, but I’m still gun shy after the mess that was last year.

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