Saturday, March 17, 2012

HIMYM 7.16: "The Drunk Train"

“Last week I went out with a girl whose favorite band was Glee!”

“The Drunk Train” was one of HIMYM’s better episodes this season, which is unusual for me to say, considering the episodes I consider best tend to advance Barney and Robin’s relationship. This one, in a way, seemed to set it back a few steps. But it was funny, and it took the characters in interesting places. I’m very intrigued to see what the fall-out from this episode’s events is going to be. This episode definitely seems to be propelling all the characters towards the final arc of the season. Barney’s thinking about a new relationship, Robin has gotten out of a relationship, and Ted and Robin have to reassess their living situation. Oh, and I found the concept of the Drunk Train with its Jersey Shore parody trappings pretty hilarious. Although, if my late night experiences on the Metro here in DC are any indication, that train was way too clean and free of bodily fluids.

The episode opens, as it often does, with the gang hanging out at MacLaren’s. Which seems stranger and stranger as Lily is more and more pregnant, but since they don’t hang out at MacLaren’s all the time anymore and the writers have been trying to slowly introduce other hang out locations (like the diner), I’m okay with it for now. Barney tells a story about how last night he was wingman for Ted. This entailed Barney spending the evening with a woman named Quinn who somehow seemed to see through all his games and characters. Barney leaves the gang with the impression that as a result of her thinking he’s a kind of gross idiot, he didn’t get any. He says Ted owes him for that. Marshall and Lily break up the party by saying they want to head out to Long Island before they have to catch the “Drunk Train” back. The Drunk Train is the last train of the night that all the partiers use. Barney thinks this sounds great, so he naturally has a great idea for how Ted can make up for the wingman debacle. All aboard!

While Ted and Barney are planning Drunk Train fun tie, Lily, Marshall, Robin, and Kevin go on a couples weekend to Vermont. At dinner one night, Kevin asks Marshall and Lily for general relationship advice, considering Marshall and Lily have been together for a very long time. They advise Kevin and Robin that in a long-lasting relationship, you shouldn’t keep score. This leads to Marshall and Lily giving way too many examples of times when they could have kept score but didn’t. Marshall and Lily sort of informally keep score on what each does for the other for much of the rest of the episode, until they decide they truly don’t want to keep score anymore. They want to approach parenting as a team. A flash forward shows us this doesn’t go so well. They have a white board above their bed with how many hours each of them spends with the baby and everything!

It turns out Kevin had quite a good reason to ask Marshall and Lily for advice. Later that evening, he proposes to Robin. Robin doesn’t say no, but she does ask for some time to think about it, which makes sense since this is moving pretty quickly. Robin talks to Marshall and Lily about the situation the next day. It turns out that it isn’t the speed of the engagement which has Robin hesitating. It’s the fact that she can’t have children. Marshall and Lily are very supportive when they hear Robin’s news, and they say that Robin definitely needs to tell Kevin. Robin takes the advice, and Kevin says he still wants to marry her. Because he’s supposed to be some sort of perfect guy (except for the mommy issues). Robin makes it clear that it’s not just that she can’t have kids, she doesn’t want them either. After a little hesitation, Kevin says that’s okay too. Robin asks him to really, really think about it, since he has always wanted kids. She wants to make sure he’s not just being nice and saying the right thing. And Kevin ends up taking back his proposal. I was glad that this relationship finally ended. Kal Penn was a more entertaining temporary love interest than most have been on HIMYM, but he was almost too perfect. It didn’t make for great television.

The New York antics in this episode mostly center around Barney and Ted’s Drunk Train adventures. And any time Neil Patrick Harris and Josh Radnor team up in this way, it’s pretty much guaranteed comedy gold. On their first Drunk Train ride, the guys end up falling asleep. The next day at MacLaren’s, Barney starts talking more about Quinn and how she got in his head when he was Ted’s wingman. She seemed to know a scary amount of information about him, including his love for saying “legendary.” She also got in his head by saying he can’t love anything. Ted tells Barney that he’s up for another ride on the Drunk Train. It’s almost Valentine’s Day and he doesn’t have anything at all resembling a girlfriend. He’s tired of always looking for “the one,” and he just wants a hook-up. Barney is only too happy to oblige to taking Ted on another Drunk Train ride.

The second train ride doesn’t really go any better than the first, although it fails in a different way. No matter what they say or do, Barney and Ted keep getting slapped and drink splashed because all the women think they’re pompous. Truth is, they’re a bunch of over-tanned Jersey Shore types, so Barney and Ted really are better than them, in a way. That being said, though, it’s not going to get them laid. So Barney and Ted end up spending the night at Marshall and Lily’s house (they have a key but Barney insisted on breaking in anyway). Barney claims he went to MIT for college, and he starts doing all this “A Beautiful Mind” type stuff on a board to try and figure out how they can be more successful on their next Drunk Train attempt. The next morning, Ted finally figures it out after looking at what Barney wrote on the board (he’s got mad word search skills, apparently). The answer, of course, is to actually be drunk when riding the Drunk Train.

The third Drunk Train excursion is much more successful. Barney and Ted are pretty much the life of the party. Barney calls it off , though, when two women invite him and Ted to their place. Ted figures out that Barney likes Quinn, and Barney admits that he and Quinn had sex. Ted tells Barney he should go for it with Quinn. The only reason Ted’s on the Drunk Train, after all, is because he didn’t have anyone he cared about. Barney ends up in a cab with one of the women from the train, but he ends up calling that off too, deciding he wants to try to pursue Quinn. We find out at the very end of the episode that Quinn is actually a stripper at the Lusty Leopard and already very much knows who Barney is, since Barney is a regular customer and all. This could be a very interesting and entertaining diversion from the (I hope) inevitable Barney/Robin endgame.

Ted gets home to find Robin up on the roof of the apartment building smoking and just generally upset over the break-up with Kevin. We see a montage of Robin explaining the whole story to Ted. Ted says that he would be okay with the fact that she doesn’t want children, because he loves her. This huge bombshell is dropped without us really knowing how Robin is going to react. I guess that’s a reveal for the next episode. I know how I feel about it, at least. I think it’s bad news. Ted and Robin didn’t work for a reason (Ted wants kids, just like Kevin), and other attempts to re-explore their relationship were kind of disastrous. Plus there’s Barney. He and Robin just considered getting back together, and now Ted is doing the same thing? This can’t end happily for our gang at all.

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