Sunday, October 9, 2011

HIMYM 7.03: "The Ducky Tie"

“You had the knife skills. You had the trigger. All you needed then was to want something from me. And then one day, those somethings came a bustin’ out.”

“The Ducky Tie” contained some of the best and some of the worst of what “How I Met Your Mother” has to offer. The best was the return of Victoria, Ted’s girlfriend from the latter half of season one. Victoria is probably my favorite of what I call the “filler girlfriends.” They’re filler because we know they aren’t the mother, but Ted has to date somebody before meeting the Mother, or the show would get awfully boring. So I was happy that Ted and Victoria got some interaction and resolution in this episode. I thought Victoria did a great job calling the gang on how strange their lives are. The worst of HIMYM, to me at least, generally involves Barney acting cartoonish, and this episode definitely included an element of cartoon Barney, although it wasn’t as egregious as some past episodes, especially from season 5.

The episode opens, as they often do, with the gang at MacLaren’s. Marshall is wearing a new “Ducky Tie,” and Barney is having quite a lot of fun making fun of it. While it’s kind of mean, Barney does have a point about the tie. Ted interrupts the mockery by informing the group that he saw Victoria at the Architect’s Ball. There’s a funny bit where we see both Ted’s and Robin’s perception of how the reunion went. Ted through he was smooth, and Robin thought he was a mess. Robin starts talking about “true love,” thinking about Barney, obviously, but catches herself and mentions instead that Lily’s chest seems particularly well endowed. It turns out Lily is getting her pregnancy boobs, and of course Barney wants to see them. He even does little Dr. Zoidberg (from “Futurama”) whoop, which made me very happy.

Marshall wants to go for hibachi for dinner at a restaurant called Shinjitsu. Barney’s not enthusiastic about this at all, and he complains heartily. Robin proposes a bet of sorts. If Barney can go for ten seconds without looking at Lily’s boobs, they’ll go to whatever restaurant Barney wants. Barney can’t help himself, though, and next thing we know, they’re all sitting around a hibachi table at Shinjitsu. I think it’s interesting that the writers are continuing to try to take the gang out of MacLaren’s for group socializing these days. It really does make sense considering Marshall and Lily are having a baby and all.

Anyway, interspersed throughout the episode, especially when things with the Lily boob wager situation get especially awkward, Ted continues to tell the story of his most recent interaction with Victoria. There’s obvious awkwardness because Robin was at the ball, too, and Ted has to explain that they aren’t dating anymore. Victoria thinks it’s strange that Robin dated both Ted and Barney, yet the three of them still hang out on pretty much a daily basis. And she’s probably right, as much as I like seeing the gang’s antics on a weekly basis. Anyway, Victoria mentions that she still has a bunch of dishes to do back at the bakery, and Ted thinks that helping her with that is the perfect way to atone for how their relationship ended (Ted kissing Robin while he and Victoria were still trying to stay together long distance).

At Shinjitsu, Barney is being especially obnoxious, going so far as to even make fun of their chef, who is diligently doing tricks while cooking the food. Barney and lily, after much haggling, end up making a deal where Barney will be able to touch Lily’s boobs for a minute if he can do all the signature Shinjitsu cooking tricks. Lily starts to regret making this deal, however, when she finds out that Barney is drinking virgin mai tais. I guess she’s worried that sober, he’ll actually be able to cook hibachi? Lily’s convinced that Barney is hustling her, and it doesn’t help when he starts making them think that he might have gone to Hoboken, New Jersey for six months to do official Shinjitsu training. It really isn’t that far out that Barney might have gone to such lengths just to have something like this up his sleeve.

Meanwhile, back in flashback land, Ted is washing dishes at Victoria’s bakery. She’s happy for the help, even saying that her oven needs cleaning too. Ted starts hitting on Victoria, and they start to get close when Victoria says that she’s getting married. She’s not officially engaged yet, but she found a ring her boyfriend’s sock drawer. He’s taking her for a nice weekend in the Hamptons, and she’s pretty convinced he’s going to pop the question. After a little more questioning from Ted, Victoria also reveals that her soon-to-be fiancé is named Klaus. Ted remembers Victoria talking about a Klaus in her German baking class, and she reluctantly confirms that it’s the same guy. They started dating about a day and a half after Victoria and Ted broke up. Ted’s pissed about this because he’s spent six years feeling guilty about sort-of cheating on Victoria with Robin, but they both end up saying that they regret what happened. And then they kiss.

In the present, Lily is convinced that Barney and the chef shared a significant look, only heightening her suspicions that they’re all being manipulated. Marshall also starts to realize that Barney has been training him to associate a sneeze with wanting to go to Shinjitsu. There’s a really funny series of flashbacks showing how Barney accomplished this. My favorite was when Barney inexplicably had two strippers in a bouncy castle at Dowisetrepla and used the cue to distract Marshall into wanting dinner instead of being pissed off. Now that he has Marshall and Lily thinking he might actually be able to win the bet, he gives them an out. If he can see Lily’s boobs for 30 seconds out in the alley, he’ll cancel the bet. In the alley, Robin tries to stop the proceedings by trying to tell Barney that the experience won’t be all that great, even if it is all Barney ever wanted. Robin’s words make Marshall think that the 30 seconds in the alley was Barney’s endgame, and Barney can’t really do hibachi. It turns out that Barney can indeed to all the Shinjitsu hibachi tricks, but Lily saves herself with some quick thinking. She flashes Barney as he’s doing his final trick, “Shrimp in the Pocket,” and he messes it up, losing the bet.

Back in flashback land, Victoria is mortified that she led Ted on and kissed him, and she says she has a bus to catch. Ted, being the sap that he is, drops her off at the bus. He doesn’t really want Victoria to go, and he’s starting to perseverate on the “what if.” He says that he wants to know what their life would have been like if they had stayed together. Victoria says that he really doesn’t, and she gets on the bus. Later, however, we find out that Ted left out one part of the story when he told it to his friends. Victoria tells Ted that she thinks his relationships haven’t been working out because of Robin. If you’ve read any of my HIMYM coverage on this blog, you’ll know that this did not make me happy. Saget!Ted tells us that she was right that Robin, Barney, and Ted hanging out all the time despite their baggage didn’t work, but they didn’t realize it yet. I swear, if this is heading towards a Ted/Robin reunion, I’m done.

We end up with the gang back at MacLaren’s. It’s hard to tell if it’s the same night or the next day. Barney’s very unhappily wearing the ducky tie, and Lily and Marshall have one last gloat before going home. After they leave, Robin and Ted keep up with the duck jokes at Barney’s expense. I like the three of them as friends, and I like Barney and Robin as something more than friends. Messing with that dynamic by having Robin and Ted try again for yet another time would just be tiresome. I really hope this is just leading to the group realizing that they need to think about things for a while, then working it all out. They’re too fun to watch to have all this drama start.

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