Sunday, October 23, 2011

HIMYM 7.04: "The Stinson Missile Crisis

“The truth is, I thought I’d be married by now and going through all this stuff alongside you guys. But even if I meet the girl of my dreams right this second, I’m still one night and nine months away from having a family of my own. And that’s assuming the mother of my children is just a huge slut.”

I expected to hate this episode because it was the beginning of the relationship between Robin and her therapist, Kevin, played by Kal Penn. But the truth is, it was pretty decent. I wouldn’t put it in the upper echelons of HIMYM with “Slap Bet” and “Slapsgiving,” but I didn’t hate it, either. The only thing that gave me pause was that this episode saw a bit of a return to Cartoon Barney. Regular readers (all one, maybe two of you) will know that I am a firm supporter of the Evolution of Barney and don’t really enjoy when the HIMYM powers that be him regress to his cartoon, joke delivery system state from the first half of season 1. As much as it pains me to admit it, Kal Penn and Cobie Smulders have decent chemistry, enough that their squick-inducing therapist/patent relationship may be tolerable until Robin and Barney (inevitably…I hope…please?) get back together. The B story of the episode, which involved Ted figuring out how involved he should be in Marshall and Lily’s pregnancy hit a particular chord with me as well, since my college roommate and her husband, who I always said would be the Marshall and Lily to my Ted if we all lived in the same city, are pregnant, too. I find I love HIMYM best when it really speaks to something I’m going through as a late 20-something.

The episode opens with a framing device that’s a little different than usual. Instead of Ted telling a drawn-out story to his kids, Robin is telling a drawn-out story to Kevin because she’s at court-mandated therapy following an assault charge. She’s telling him the long version of how she ended up being charged with assault, intertwining it with the story about Ted figuring out how much to intrude on Marshall and Lily’s pregnancy. Kevin occasionally expresses exasperation with how long it’s taking Robn to get to the important part of the story (why she committed assault), and I imagine that’s how Ted’s kids often react during one of his stories. That’s probably what we’d see if the producers didn’t need to rely on stock reaction shot footage of the kids to make them look the same age after all these years. Anyway, Robin opens her story by telling Keving about how it hurt to see Barney wooing Nora. Since Robin and Nora are coworkers, she’d see every time Barney had something sweet like flowers or chocolate delivered. There was also a time when he started singing “When a Man Loves a Woman” right in the middle of the office. Robin ended up drunk under her desk after that one. I wished Barney was singing for Robin, but I’m never going to complain about a chance to hear Neil Patrick Harris sing!

Meanwhile, Marshall, Lily, and Ted are at MacLaren’s, doing their usual after work socializing thing. Lily takes a sip of wine and tells Ted that her OB/GYN, Dr. Sonya, has said that all sorts of usual pregnancy no-nos are okay if it’s “just a little bit.” Which is probably true, but Ted doesn’t see it that way. He says he’s going to research it all himself, since he’s part of “Team Baby.” He’s got a custom-printed t-shirt and everything. Which really doesn’t surprise me. Later, Ted is so invested in “Team Baby” that he intrudes on Lily’ OB/GYN appointment to present Dr. Sonya with all the research he found about things that are bad to eat/drink during pregnancy. This really, seriously pisses Lily off, and she yells at Ted to get out of the exam room. There’s a funny flashback of Ted not understanding the “sock on the doorknob” signal and accidentally walking in on Marshall and Lily. I think this was to illustrate how Ted has always sort of been the meddlesome third wheel.

Robin goes back to telling the main story, and she mentions that she strted trying to come up with ways to get Nora to go far away. At work, Sandy announces that he needs someone to cover the G8 Summit in France. Robin volunteers Nora to go, but when Sandy says he was going to ask Nora in the first place, Robin suddenly wants to be the one chosen for the assignment. Later at MacLaren’s the gang finds out that Barney is still running game, despite being with Nora. He manages to shoo Nora out of the bar just before a woman approaches him and days she saw his advertisement for a free breast reduction consultation. It turns out that Barney has “Bimbo Delivery Systems” in place, and he hasn’t dismantled them just yet, even though he’s dating Nora. My personal favorite was Arnie Linson, the attorney who advertises that he’ll represent people who want to sue that fraudulent plastic surgeon, Barney Stinson. Robin offers to help barney dismantle all his Bimbo Delivery Systems. Kevin thinks this was a ploy to try and win Barney, back, and he’d be right about that.

Meanwhile, while folding laundry, Marshall tells Lily that he feels bad for Ted because it’s difficult to be the third wheel. We see through flashes that Ted indeed is not taking the new distance form his friends well. He’s crying over a photograph of the three of them in an awkward themed Halloween costume group- salt, pepper, and cumin. Oh, and Marshall’s not sure he likes Dr. Sonya, either, much to Lily’s chagrin. Lily wants to be able to keep having sips of wine and eating soft cheeses. Marshall decides that Ted should be back on Team Baby, and Ted, of course, immediately takes his leeway too far. He signs them all up for a birthing class, which Lily explicitly said she doesn’t want to do this early. Only Marshall and Ted actually show up for the class, which results in all kinds of awkwardness as they do the class activities together. Ted eventually starts to feel bad about going against Lily’s wishes, and he and Marshall leave the class. Marshall goes home to apologize to Lily, and we flash forward to their child’s birth. Dr. Sonya is much more of a hardass during labor and delivery than she is during pregnancy, and Marshall hasn’t made it to the hospital yet.

Over at Barney’s apartment, Robin is helping Barney dismantle all his Bimbo Delivery Devices once and for all. Barney has a hilarious sad phone conversation with “Port Authority Mitch,” who would alert him to any especially vulnerable wanna-be starlets who arrived at the bus terminal. We also learned about a flamboyant hair dresser character Barney would sometimes use. Then there’s the Cold Call 5000 that was set up to cold call people in Barney’s perfect target demographic. Robin and Barney wind down at MacLaren’s, and Robin starts trying to convince Barney that they should get dressed up and go out on the town (mostly in response to a cringe inducing sequence where he says she’s a “Bro” over and over). She just about succeeds when Nora gets back early from her assignment in France. Robin ends up drunk under a MacLaren’s table this time. It turns out that Robin accidentally activated the Cold Call 5000 on her way out of Barney’s apartment, and a cold called girl shows up at MacLaren’s wanting to know where Barney is. Against her better judgment, she tells the woman that Barney is at a café down the street. Next thing we know, we see where the assault charge came from. While Barney and Nora are having a nice meal, Robin (who I guess is feeling some remorse) is tackling the Cold Call woman before she can ruin Barney’s date.

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