Sunday, April 24, 2011

HIMYM 6.21: "Hopeless"

“Oh, sorry small-town preacher from the Midwest. Is there a law against dancing?”

Now everybody cut loose! Footloose! Kick off your Sunday shoes! Yep, John Lithgow was back on HIMYM this week as Jerry, Barney’s dad. There was even a little “Footloose” shoutout (see the above Quote of the Episode). It was a great opportunity for both comedy and moments to humanize Barney. I like when an episode of HIMYM has a good mix in that way. The episode also gave me some hope for Barney and Robin eventually getting back together, although I’m still quite gun shy about that. I’m gun shy about whether or not they’ll ever get back together at all, and I’m gun shy about what would be done with the characters if they were to get back together. While it was kind of sweet to hear Barney admit that he’d kind of like a quiet suburban life someday, why does there have to be a dichotomy between ultimate ladies’ man constant partier and quiet suburban life? Can’t Barney live a healthier lifestyle but still be awesome? I feel like sometimes life possibilities and relationships are presented in a very black or white way on HIMYM, when in reality, there are so many shades of gray.

The episode opens with a flashback to 1983, specifically the last time little Barney saw his father before their decades-long estrangement. Jerry is saying goodbye to Barney because Barney’s mom has decided that “Crazy Jerry” is a bad influence. We see Jerry giving advice about performing magic tricks (a magician’s best friend is “a drunk audience”), which was kind of a neat way to show where Barney gets his own love for magic. Jerry leaves his son with possibly the most inappropriate parting words possible for a six-year-old (a fact which present-day Jerry acknowledges with some shame). “Never stop partying.” Now we know from Season 1’s “Game Night” that it was a suited-up guy stealing Barney’s girlfriend that was the catalyst for Barney becoming the person we now know. But I can fanwank that these parting words from “Uncle Jerry” provided some validation for young adult Barney as he transitioned into that new persona.

We then return to the present day, where Barney bursts into Ted and Robin’s apartment, announcing to the gang that he’s mad at his dad. He’s upset because his dad called him to invite him on a fishing trip while he was in the middle of trying to hit on a chick at MacLaren’s. He turns down the fishing trip (after “checking his personality”) and declares to the gang that his father is “anti-awesometic.” Barney wants to take his dad out for a night on the town to show him what he’s missing by not being “Crazy Jerry” anymore.

To succeed in convincing his dad to change his ways, Barney says he’s going to need the “awesomest friends.” And he doesn’t think his current friends are all that awesome. He decides to give the rest of the gang alternate personalities. Robin is now a Scotch taster instead of a journalist. Marshall and Lily now have an open marriage (which intrigues Lily but disgusts Marshall). Marshall is also now a playwright, and Lily says she wants to be Meryl Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada.” Ted has been given a whole stack of index cards of conversation topics to avoid. Finally, Ted and Robin have to pretend to be dating, because Barney is afraid that if his father meets Robin, he’ll say that Barney should marry her because “deep down you know you were never happier than when you were with her.” This gives me cautious optimism for their future.

When it comes time for the gang to meet up with Jerry at MacLaren’s, the fake stories still aren’t quite awesome enough for Barney. He tells the gang that it’s time to tell Jerry “the truth.” The truth isn’t really the truth, though. He tells his dad that they’re also a band. Which leads to one of my favorite things they’ve ever done on the show. We cut to the actors in Ted and Robin’s living room performing the theme song. Jason Segel’s on keyboard, Neil Patrick Harris is on guitar, Cobie Smulders is on drums, and Josh Radnor and Alyson Hannigan are singing back-up. Josh even kicks the microphone stand at the end. It looks like they had a lot of fun with it. What follows the musical performance is equally fun. The gang has a very “Who’s on First” conversation about where they should go for their night clubbing with Jerry. Of course, every time somebody says the word “Okay,” Ted has to chime in that the club Okay is lame. I definitely enjoyed the callback to “Okay Awesome,” one of my all-time favorite episodes of HIMYM.

The gang and Jerry end up at a rather lame club called Hopeless. There are plenty of amusing happenings at the club. Robin sees a long lost crush who she met at a department store several years ago. They hit it off when she embarrassed him by dissing the shirt he was wearing. Ted, thinking he’s doing her a favor, scares him off by telling him he’s her boyfriend. It later turns out that Robin’s initial meeting with the crush happened when she and Ted were still actually dating. That trip to a department store also happens to be when ted bought the infamous red cowboy boots. Ted’s upset about this revelation, but Robin reminds him that he doesn’t really have a leg to stand on, because he bought the boots only after a sales associate said he’d look hot in them. Ted’s especially upset that Robin was picturing her crush when she and Ted had sex that night, so he yells out to the crowd at Hopeless that Robin just agreed to marry him. Saget!Ted warns us that this isn’t the end of Robin and her crush. I sure hope the end is sooner rather than later. I can’t take another Don! There’s also a fun little bit where Marshall and Lily make the “usual wager” (sex in the bathroom) to see who can get five phone numbers first. Lily wins, but obviously, Marshall’s still quite happy.

Most of the meat of this episode revolves around Barney and Jerry. Barney gets a round of shots for the group, and Jerry is a little reluctant to drink. When Barney tells him he wants to hang out with “Crazy Jerry,” though, Jerry appears to start downing shots like there’s no tomorrow. Then he starts acting like a very embarrassing drunk, with his tie around his head, and dancing like disco is still alive. Barney’s delighted that he finally has a chance to be embarrassed by his dad. Their night continues to get crazier and crazier, and the pinnacle is when Barney and Jerry are arrested after Jerry seemingly pukes on a police car. It turns out that Jerry wasn’t really drunk though. He was taking advantage of Barney’s drunkenness (remember, a magician’s best friend is a drunk audience) to appear drunk himself. All the crazy things they did were actually caused by Barney, but because Barney was drunk, he believed it when Jerry took credit for them. Jerry was stepping up and acting like a real father to Barney- he wanted to teach him what “never stop partying” really looks like.

Barney sobers up a bit when he realizes that his antics could mean that Jerry’s other son will miss out on a fishing trip with his dad (a trip to jail will make it take way too long for Jerry to get home), so Barney has an idea. Because both Barney and Jerry are magicians, they know how to get themselves out of standard handcuffs. They use this ability, and then they run for it. It’s still looking like there isn’t going to be enough time for Jerry to get home for the fishing trip, but then Jerry has a good idea. He calls one of his driving students, an elderly woman, to drive him and Barney home. Barney really opens up to his dad during the car ride. He tells Jerry that he’s worried he’s too broken to ever settle down like he thinks he might want to. Jerry says he was much more broken than Barney, and all it takes is the right woman. When Jerry says that maybe Barney will meet that woman tomorrow, Barney wonders aloud if he has already met her. And I started furiously hoping that the “right woman” will be Robin and not Nora. Then Barney decides at the last minute to join Jerry and J.J. on their fishing trip. Barney ends up hating fishing (it’s boring), but I thought it showed growth that he was willing to give it a try.

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