Sunday, November 20, 2011

HIMYM 7.06: "Mystery vs. History"

“Oh my God. They’re six minutes into the date. Ted’s probably already told her that he loves her. We’ve gotta get down there!”

“Mystery vs. History” was a rather sweet, although not especially memorable, episode of “How I Met Your Mother.” It had some good funny moments, although I wouldn’t put it in the pantheon of best episodes, either. As the title pretty easily points out, the theme of the episode is whether or not it’s better to go into a situation completely prepared and knowing everything, or if a little mystery makes life more exciting and fulfilling. Personally, I think I’m somewhat in the middle on this debate. On the rare occasions where I do allow myself to be surprised (a few rare unspoiled episodes of “Lost” come to mind), I find the surprise to be a whole lot of fun. Most of the time, though, I have no willpower, and as several of the characters say in this episode, “I gots ta know!” I’m really enjoying much of the Marshall and Lily baby storyline right now, because it’s speaking directly to my life, and that’s when HIMYM works the best for me. My college roommate/best friend and her husband are having a boy in February, and while I haven’t been able to be a part of it as much as Ted has been a part of Marshall and Lily’s pregnancy due to the fact that we live about three hours apart, I still see elements of these episodes that are very true to my own experience thus far.

The article opens with a Saget!Ted monologue about how thanks to the Internet and smart phones, nothing is a mystery anymore. Peoples’ life history is just all out there for you to find easily. We flash back to 2005 (Was it really that different a world then? Please tell me it wasn’t so I don’t feel so old) where the gang is at MacLaren’s having what seems to be a fairly routine for them argument over trivia. They’re trying to determine the most popular food in the United States. Flash forward to today, and the group is sitting silently, all checking their smart phones. Somebody morosely drones that hey, it turns out that the most popular food in the United States is bread.

At MacLaren’s the group is having a (not capable of being resolved by internet searching) debate over whether or not Marshall and Lily should find out the sex of their baby. Doctor Sonya wrote it out on a card and put it in an envelope, but Marshall and Lily haven’t looked at it yet. Nevermind that couples can’t usually find this out until about 20 weeks (have I mentioned that beyond by college roommate I have two other friends who are due all within about a month of each other early next year?), and Marshall and Lily aren’t even half way to that point at the time of this episode. Barney, of course, thinks that Marshall and Lily should read the card immediately. Lily is hesitant, though. She thinks that by giving birth without knowing the sex of the baby, it will help her and Marshall not limit the baby with gender expectations. Robin chimes in (since her dad always treated her like a boy and all) with a rather hilarious flashback to her fourteenth birthday. Her dad dropped her out of a helicopter for a three day survival trek while he went to the Caribbean.

Ted goes to the bar for a drink and meets Janet, who is played by the same actress who played Ashleigh on “Greek.” They make a date, and Barney and Robin immediately want to start internet researching her to find out what’s wrong with her. This is apparently a regular occurrence. This time, though, Ted stops them. He goes back over to Janet and asks her to make a deal. They are not going to research each other prior to their date so that they can have the fun of discovering each other in person. This sounds rather creepy, but since Ted delivers the speech is his usual sappy, earnest way, Janet eats it up and agrees.

The next day, after Ted leaves for his date, Barney and Robin start their researching. Kevin desperately tries to get them to stop and go help Marshall and Lily paint the nursery instead. They go to Marshall and Lily’s alright, but they keep researching as Kevin does all the painting prep. Then Lily unveils the nursery paint color, which can really only be described as baby poo yellow. Lovely, right? Barney puts together a really hilarious presentation (complete with photos projected up on the wall) about the awesome gifts the baby will get if everyone knows the gender, as opposed to the androgynous burlap sack he/she will receive if Lily and Marshall keep it a secret. It seemed like Neil Patrick Harris was channeling The Price is Right a little bit, which makes sense, considering Barney’s former obsession with Bob Barker being his dad.

Still furiously researching wile Kevin paints, Robin yells out that she thinks Janet’s been widowed three times (the implication being she’s a murderer). Barney panics and says they need to go rescue Ted right away, and this makes Kevin lose it. He starts ranting about how the gang is the most controlling, codependent, incestuous group of people he’s ever known. He says that the only problem behavior he hasn’t seen from the gang is physical violence. Which is followed up by an awesome montage of past physical violence set to “Murder Train” of course. It’s little callbacks like that which make HIMYM great and rewarding for long-time viewers. Rather than facing up to the truth of that, the rest of the gang gets really pissed off until Kevin offers to paint the rest of the room by himself as an apology.

Ted and Janet’s date is not going well at all because neither of them have anything to talk about. I guess they were both so used to planning out conversation topics ahead of time based on their internet research that without the research, they were crippled. It gets to the point where Ted is so desperate for conversation topics that he starts talking about the font of the restaurant menu. I was wondering why they weren’t using this opportunity to ask questions about each other. Seems like a pretty obvious way to proceed to me. Meanwhile, Barney finds some real information about Janet and quickly shares it with Robin. They both do a synchronized spit take when they read about Janet’s background, and Barney texts Ted with a link to a story about Janet.

Ted finally figures out what I already had (that they should ask each other questions), and he and Janet start getting along well after he asks if she likes “Annie Hall” (she does). Janet gets up to use the rest room, and Ted is really tempted to look at the link Barney texted him. The suspense builds over at Dowisetrepla. Barney and Robin get to see the card with the baby’s gender, and they tease Marshall and Lily about it so Marshall and Lily really want to know too. It turns out, though that Barney has ripped the card in half, and he’ll only let them see it if they look at the Janet link. Marshall and Lily’s reaction is just as shocked as Barney and Robin’s was, although Kevin provides the spit take this time. Marshall ends up throwing the gender card out the window without reading it, and surprisingly, Lily is okay with that.

Ted plays through several scenarios of Janet’s big secret, which encompass everything from Janet actually being a dude to Janet not liking “Annie Hall.” Ted can’t take it anymore, and he finally looks at the link. It turns out that Janet is pretty much the perfect person. She’s a kidney-donating prodigy who really loves Annie Hall. When Janet reappears, Ted becomes a blubbering idiot in front of her, much to Janet’s chagrin. Ted just can’t take feeling so inferior to her, and he can’t even string a sentence together. Janet is disgusted by this, because this is how all guys act around her once they know about her background. Needless to say, the date’s over. Ted makes his way over to Dowisetrepla, and the gender card sticks to his shoe. Lily and Marshall see it and find out that they’re having a boy. They’re really thrilled, which was sweet. And Kevin leaves to go buy blue paint.

No comments:

Post a Comment