Monday, November 1, 2010

HIMYM 6.05: "Architect of Destruction"

“Ted, I know ya love crappy old stuff no one cares about, but I’m gonna give ya four words to live by: ‘new is always better.’”

While I don’t think “Architect of Destruction” surpassed “Subway Wars” as my favorite episode of the season thus far, I did find it to be a fun, entertaining half hour. The resolution to the main plotline kind of bugged, but overall I’m happy to see the show returning to plot arcs instead of standalone episodes and more nuanced characterization. These episodes are funny on a level that most of last season’s were not. I think HIMYM really does need the season-long plot arcs to succeed. It feels like there’s more substance to the show now. Substance isn’t usually something I look for from a sitcom, but it’s part of what made early HIMYM great- humor that comes from a real place with heart. Okay, maybe this episode didn’t have so much of the “heart” (Subway Wars did, though), but it certainly had humor that came from a real place.

Barney is super enthusiastic about Ted working at GNB. The guy just adores being surrounded by his friends. We actually get a “legendary” from Barney, which, believe it or not, he hasn’t said in ages. This time, he finishes the word via inter-office memo. I thought that was cute. It’s really been a long time since we got a spiced up “legendary” like the line from the pilot that turned it into a catch phrase “legen-I hope you’re not lactose intolerant because the second half of this word is- dary.” Anyway, things go south with the happy Barney-Ted working relationship when they find out the site for the new GNB building. The building currently on the site is “The Arcadian.” It was one of the world’s great hotels in its heyday, but it has since become horribly run down, and it’s in a bad section of town.

At MacLaren’s, Ted breaks the news to Barney that he doesn’t think he can do the GNB headquarters project anymore. Barney launches right into a campaign to change Ted’s mind. He claims that “new is always better.” Ted tries to test that hypothesis with things like the old Star Wars movies compared to the new Star Wars movies, and Barney always has a reason for preferring the new. Then Ted brings out the big guns. He asks the barmaid about the oldest and newest Scotch. Never one to back down from the challenge, Barney requests the really nasty sounding new “grape Scotch.” Barney eventually realizes why Ted has changed his mind. It must be a girl. At first Ted denies it, and I believed him because that would be just stupid, but then it turns out Barney was right. When Ted was sitting in front of the Arcadian contemplating its destruction one night, he met a woman named Zoey who is leading the campaign to save the building. Barney accuses Ted of constantly changing his personality for women, and a series of pretty amusing flashbacks proves Barney’s point. It also turns out that Ted told Zoey he was a vet just so she wouldn’t realize he’s involved in the immanent destruction of the Arcadian.

In other news, Marshall and Lily are still trying for a baby. They’re getting ready to have sex when Lily mentions that Robin has hooked up with Marshall’s law school friend Max, and they want to double date with Marshall and Lily. This is the guy she hit it off with at the end of “Subway Wars.” Marshall is very happy, saying Max is a great guy, until Lily mentions off hand that according to Robin, Max has a small penis. Marshall really, really didn’t want to know that. The topic comes up again later at MacLaren’s, where the other guys recoil in horror just like Marshall did. The guys didn’t realize that women really talked about that sort of thing. The ladies try to counter with the stereotype of guys’ “locker room talk,” but Marshall says that locker room talk never gets into specifics. The double date doesn’t go so well, because Marshall can’t stop thinking about Max’s lack of endowment. He treats Max like someone who is terminally ill. Robin knows what’s going on, and she tries to deflect it as best she can.

Things go from kind of juvenile to really funny when Marshall realizes that Robin and Lily must talk about his prowess in the bedroom, too. The next time he and Lily have sex, he can’t help but picture Lily and Robin sitting in the corner of the room, sipping Cosmos and commentating on the action, “Sex and the City” style. There was even “Sex and the City” music to really set the scene. I thought that was one of the funniest moments of the episode. To relieve his anxiety, Lily calls Robin and reads from a script (prepared by Marshall) about how wonderful the night was. Robin can easily tell it’s a script (it’s chock full of cheesy romance novel clichés), but she goes with it to make Marshall feel better.

Meanwhile, Ted continues to lie to Zoey. The situation comes to a head when Zoey brings a truck full of liberated laboratory bunnies to Ted’s apartment. Ted stupidly says he’ll go get his vet supplies. We never see the actual consequences of the lie going this far, which is kind of disappointing. It turns out that Zoey is a pretty wacky activist, and not just for old buildings and animal rights. She pretty much goes all out whenever she thinks someone or something is getting stomped on. She’s been arrested a bunch of times, and there’s a really funny montage of all her mug shots. Ted, completely stupid in his pursuit of Zoey (as always), shows up at The Arcadian, ready to join in one of Zoey’s prtests. Zoey is very pleased until she looks up at the building and sees a big sign announcing that the new GNB building is coming soon, designed by “architectural wizard Ted Moseby.” The sign is hilarious, with an unflattering photo of Ted in a wizard costume. Zoey is understandably pissed when she discovers Ted’s role in the immanent destruction of The Arcadian.

Ted gets back to his apartment to find Barney waiting for him, once again in the rented swivel chair. I think that chair last made an appearance in season 2 when Barney wanted to meet Ted’s sister. This time, though, Barney’s holding one of the bunnies Zoey liberated. He gives his best Dr. Horrible evil laugh as Ted walks through the door. Barney was responsible for the sign, of course. He didn’t want Ted giving up on the project because of a girl. Ted claims that he just came to the realization that he truly wanted to save the building, and he starts working furiously. The next day, he shows up to one of Zoey’s protests with new building plans in his hand. He wants to preserve the façade of The Arcadian. Zoey is thrilled. As she’s looking at the plans, Ted spots the ring on her finger and realizes she’s married. At that moment, he claims, he realized that it was about the girl and not the building after all. This didn’t make sense to me. Ted is a huge architecture nerd. He scared a bunch of people off the bus because he was being such an architecture nerd in just the last episode.

The episode’s tag makes up for any frustration I felt over the resolution to Ted’s plot, though. The guys are in the locker room, and Max mentions he might break up with Robin because of something she does in the bedroom that is apparently pretty crazy. Ted and Barney, having both dated Robin, instantly know what Max is talking about and tell him that “it’s not for everyone.” I always like little moments when Ted and Barney acknowledge their shared history. It always makes me laugh. Anyway, Marshall wants to know what this crazy thing is, and Ted, Barney, and Max refuse to tell him. It is “the locker room,” after all. They’ve got to keep it classy.

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