Tuesday, March 26, 2013

HIMYM 8.20: "The Time Travelers"

“Right now, Marshall and Lily are upstairs, trying to get Marvin to go back to sleep. Robin and I are trying to decide on a caterer. And you've been sitting here all night, staring at a single ticket to Robots v. Wrestlers because the rest of us couldn't come out. Look around Ted, you're all alone.”

“The Time Travelers” was a rather jarring see saw between the farcical and the emotionally manipulative. There were two plots, one of which focused on Barney and Ted (usually the recipe for comedy gold, although not so much in this one) and the other of which focused on Marshall, Lily, and Robin, and was really superfluous to what the episode was trying to say. And, the big topper…spoiler alert… is that neither of those two plots actually happened. The whole episode was really in Ted’s head. Even after we shit back to reality, Saget!Ted immediately goes into “this is what I would have done if I could,” and we’re back in fantasy land again. The one good thing to come of all this is that…again, spoiler alert…we’re going to meet the mother in exactly forty-five days, people! No more games! No more brief glimpses of feet or allusions to almost meeting. The woman herself meets Ted in forty-five days. And if the creative team figures out a way to renege on that, I’m going to be pissed.

Anyway, the episode opens with Saget!Ted explaining how in Spring 2013, he and the Mother were living separate, but kind of connected lives. They didn’t live all that far away from each other, and they both were at Columbia every day. The one major difference is that Ted spent much of his time at MacLaren’s, which the Mother, obviously, didn’t. And so, ladies, and gentleman, we have ourselves a bottle episode. A bottle episode is that time honored TV tradition, where in the wasteland between sweeps months, an episode is created that takes place almost entirely on an existing set. It’s a cost saving measure, and it often takes some real creativity, making something taking place in a confined space interesting. This episode, instead of being a compelling character study, just descends quickly into the bizarre.

We first spend time with Barney and Ted, who are sitting at the usual booth. Barney has tickets to another iteration of Robots v. Wrestlers, only this time it’s senior citizens and old timey robots, and it’s called “Legends.” Ted has a lecture the next morning, so he’s conflicted about whether or not to take Barney up on the offer. Barney’s got a solution, though. They’re going to consult 20 years in the future Barney and Ted. Which are basically just current day Ted and Barney in silver space suits. Which should have been the first sign that something odd was afoot. Future Barney and Ted try to convince current day Ted that going to Robots v. Wrestlers was going to lead to an epic evening that he would remember fondly for the rest of his life. Then 20 minutes in the future Ted shows up looking all disheveled. He tells Ted that he’s going to really regret the epic night out the next morning.

Meanwhile, Marshall and Robin have a rather silly spat over a drink. Marshall’s all excited about a drink he has invented called the Minnesota Tidalwave. He insists it’s not a girly drink, but since he wants Lily to order it for him, I’m guessing that’s not actually the case. Robin tries to make Marshall feel better by saying that she’s not a girly girl, but she likes the drink. It turns out that Robin wasn’t just trying to placate Marshall. She likes the drink so much that Carl the Bartender named it after her. Marshall is devastated that the Minnesota Tidalwave is actually the Robin Scherbatsky. He challenges Robin to a dance-off, but Lily stops him because apparently his dancer’s hip has been getting worse. In retaliation, Marshall leaves a “for a good time call” message with Robin’s phone number in the bathroom, and Robin has no qualms with going into the men’s room to see and remove the message. In retaliation, she writes something in the ladies’ room. It ends up being a message that seems sweet, but its only real purpose is to take Marshall so long to read that some ladies will walk into the room and Marshall will decide he needs to hide. They do eventually end up settling their differences with the dance off, which is mildly amusing.

As Ted is debating what to do about Robot’s v. Wrestlers, we get a visit from an old friend. Jayma Mays is back, reprising her role as the Coat Check Girl from season one’s “Okay Awesome.” This should have been yet another sign that this was all in Ted’s head. Before he can actually go talk to her, Ted has a visit from two potential versions of future Coat Check Girl. One is happy, and one is pathetic. They explain to Ted that if he does strike something up with Coat Check Girl, one of them is just going to get bored in a few months, and they will break up. This is a punch to the gut for Ted, and the punches just keep coming from then on out through the rest of the episode. It turns out that Ted has been alone at MacLaren’s the whole time, trying to decide if he wants to go to Robots v. Wrestlers on his own because all his friends are busy with their own lives.

We don’t really know what Ted does next. Instead, Saget!Ted tells his kids that they know what, if he could do it all over, he would have done with that evening. He goes to the Mother’s apartment and tells her that in forty-five days they’re going to meet and fall in love and eventually they’ll get married. Really, it’s supposed to be sweet, but it kind of comes off as stalker Creepy McCreeperson. Ted is really the king of being all about the destination and not the journey, after all. The one saving grace of this mess of a “let’s throw together a bunch of things people tend to like about the show” episode was that we have a more concrete idea of when the Mother will actually appear. I’m really hoping that the creative team won’t string us along for too much longer when there are only forty-five days between now and when the Mother is supposed to appear.

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