Wednesday, March 9, 2011

HIMYM 6.18: "A Change of Heart"

“Your heart’s talking to you, Barney. Do you have the guts to listen to it?”

“A Change of Heart” left me feeling rather cold, which is not something HIMYM usually does. There were some great (albeit juvenile) laughs, but I just wasn’t feeling the A story in this one. Probably because it was about Barney having feelings for someone other than Robin. Shipping preferences aside, though, I don’t think the HIMYM powers that be have done that much better a job developing Nora than they did with Don, and comparing to Don is setting an awfully low bar. There have been one or two scenes where Nora’s been kind of endearing (which is where I can say she’s slightly better developed than Don), but like Don, it’s still mostly been tell instead of show. I did appreciate that Barney is acting like a human being again (which he really didn’t for much of last season), and I can live with this if it teaches Barney and Robin the lessons they need to learn to eventually be together in a healthier way than the first go round, but I don’t have to enjoy it while it’s happening.

Scared by Marvin Eriksen’s heart attack, the gang all goes to a cardiologist to get checked out. Well, everybody but Barney. Everyone is fine, so the conversation at MacLaren’s soon turns to other things. Robin says she might want another dog, which makes Ted unhappy. Ted thinks that if Robin got a dog, he’d be the one who had to take care of it. I’m not so sure that would be true. Up until the second season episode “Stuff,” Robin took care of a whole pack of dogs all on her own. Marshall thinks Robin doesn’t really want a dog. He thinks she’s trying to fill emptiness inside her because she doesn’t have a man. I hate to tell Marshall, but like I already said, Robin’s been known as a dog person for quite some time. Marshall thinks Robin feels left out because everybody in the group is “with” somebody but her. Barney vehemently denies he’s “with” Nora. He claims he’s just going on a second date with her because she’s hot and he wants to have sex with her.

Barney’s date with Nora doesn’t exactly go as he expected. He’s coming down with a cold, and being Barney, Mr. “I stop being sick and be awesome instead,” he really turns on the misery. Nora isn’t really taken aback by Barney coughing and sneezing all over the place, though. Instead, we see a montage of her taking care of him while he’s sick. When he has finally recovered and is telling the rest of the gang about this, he continues to play it off like he’s still just interested in Nora for the sex, going to far as to sing that God-awful “bangity bang” song from last season. Lily realizes that Barney now wants to go to the cardiologist like the rest of the group has, but he’s too scared. Lily says she’ll go with him if he promises to never lie to Nora.

The cardiologist thinks Barney might have a slight arrhythmia, so she wants him to wear a heart monitor for 24 hours. When Barney comes back the next day, she doesn’t see anything especially alarming on the monitor’s read-out, but she does notice a few “irregularities.” Most of the rest of the episode is Barney and Lily telling stories to explain the irregularities. During their date the night before, Nora had been going on and on about how she wants to get married some day. Trying not to scare Barney off, she stresses that it doesn’t have to be with him or right now. It’s just something she wants in the long run. Barney, looking very sincere, told Nora that’s what he wants too. When Lily heard about this, she slapped Barney for lying. That was the first irregularity, and it cracked me up. Later on their date Nora started going on and on about how she wants kids and an old stone house. Barney, again, seemed to sincerely agree and threw in that he wants a pool too. When Lily heard about this, she punched Barney for lying. That was the second irregularity.

Meanwhile, in a kind of stupid yet embarrassingly funny B story, Robin has taken her own desire to get a dog and Marshall’s advice that what she’s really missing is a man and sort of combined them. The result is a guy named “Scooby” who is pretty much a dog in human clothing. Robin found Scooby in the park, of course, and he spends most of the episode exhibiting dog behaviors like chasing his “tail” (a tag on the back of his pants) and fetching things. This inspires a long line of dog puns from the rest of the gang over drinks at MacLaren’s, much like the similar round of Canadian puns they all rattled off when Robin told them about Simon in “Sandcastles in the Sand.” It was juvenile, for sure, but I’ve got to say it completely cracked me up. Scooby reveals that someone gave him some “sandwich making material” while he was in the park, and Ted, Lily, and Marshall decide that while they’re too old to smoke it, they’re definitely not too old to bake it into some brownies. While they themselves are all baked, Scooby leaves Ted’s apartment, and nobody can find him. After a long search, they eventually find him reliving himself on a fire hydrant.

While on his date with Nora, Barney brought her to MacLaren’s to meet the gang. He ends up blackmailing his friends to say only nice things about him. It’s mildly amusing how Barney has such dirt on all of them. Just saying the word “calzone” to Marshall makes him acquiesce. Barney continues to act the perfect gentleman while Nora is around, and the rest of the group back him up. He even agrees to meet Nora and her parents for brunch that weekend, and never meeting the parents is one of his “just one” rules (as in he’ll always say “I have just one rule”). After their date, Nora invites Barney up to her apartment. Barney chooses to come clean about not wanting to get married. Nora slaps him and heads upstairs in a huff. Switching back to the present time, Lily and the cardiologist slap him too.

Soon after slapping Barney, Lily comes to a realization. She tells Barney that she doesn’t think he was lying when he said he wanted to get married at the beginning of the date. She thinks he was lying when he told Nora he didn’t really want to get married at the end of the date. She has the cardiologist look over the heart monitor data again, and she confirms that when Barney first saw Nora at the beginning of their date, his heart literally skipped a beat. We then see Barney show up at the restaurant where Nora and her parents are having brunch. He strides in confidently, is kind, and makes a good impression. It’s quickly apparent that this is all in Barney’s head, though. We again see him standing outside the door to the restaurant, but in reality, he walks away.

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