Thursday, April 25, 2013

HIMYM 8.21: "Romeward Bound"

“But you’re not getting married in three weeks, Ted. I am. Robin’s marrying me. Not you.”

“Romeward Bound” was a rather strange episode of HIMYM with a central plot conceit that just plain didn’t make sense. The Captain is going to Rome, and he wants Lily to come with him to continue being his art consultant. Why couldn’t she continue to be his art consultant from New York? Wouldn’t it be smart for The Captain to have someone monitoring the NYC art scene for him during the year he is away? Who knows, maybe that’s how this particular storyline will eventually resolve itself? I didn’t especially love the B story in this one, either. It involved a particularly ugly incarnation of Cartoon Barney, and it feels like it was there to potentially be the set-up for finding out at the end of the series that Barney and Robin at some point got divorced. Why oh why does the HIMYM creative team continue to sabotage Barney and Robin. The way they were written at the beginning of the series had so much potential. Anyway, all in all, this episode showed that HIMYM probably should have ended at the end of this season instead of next season. Just put it out of its misery already and stop marking time.

Early in the episode, the Captain informs Lily that he is going to Rome for a year. He wants her to come along with him to continue her work as his art consultant. Lily is taken aback by the offer. She pictures herself living the dream while Marshall languishes as a stay-at-home-dad and cheats on her with an Italian woman. She doesn’t want to tear Marshall away from her career, which she believes Marshall finds very fulfilling. Her impression seems to be confirmed when she calls Marshall to tell him about the offer, and he says he’s too busy to talk. After Lily officially turns down the offer, though, she learns that what she thought about Marshall’s job isn’t exactly the truth. By a long shot. Marshall’s law firm has tanked following the case he lost earlier this season, and he and one other guy are now the only employees. They have no cases, and Marshall spends his days doing silly things like decorating cubicles and building card houses.

When Marshall tells Lily the truth, she’s devastated, and she tells Marshall about the job offer. He actually really wants to move to Italy and be a househusband (which isn’t too farfetched, except for the moving to Italy part), so he offers to go talk to the Captain and explain the misunderstanding. Inexplicably, this strategy works to get Lily a second chance. Having your spouse call your boss about something work related seems as inappropriate as a parent calling their son or daughter’s college about a bad grade. Adults don’t need other family members to fight those types of battles. Anyway, the Captain decides to offer Lily a second chance to accept the job, and she turns him down again.

So let’s take a little break from the Aldrin-Eriksen drama and address the kind of hideous B story. Ted and Barney are enjoying drinks at MacLaren’s, as they do, when a woman Ted knows from yoga class enters the bar. She’s dressed in a massive coat, but Ted swears that she has an amazing body. Even though he’s engaged, this is just too much for Barney. He starts to go into trickster mode to try to get the woman to take her coat off. Marshall joins the group and has no trouble at all getting the woman to remove her coat. Barney then realizes that since he’s engaged, he has the same taken so not threatening or creepy power that Marshall does. Robin joins the group at some point, too, and she tries to be cool about Barney slobbering all over this girl. It doesn’t help that the woman’s name is Liddy, and she’s the wedding planner that Robin hired. Barney can barely contain his creepiness as Liddy goes through her binder of wedding stuff.

Marshall is super enthusiastic about going to Italy, to the point where he has dressed up like a character in an old Italian movie to go bum around Little Italy. He’s pretty crushed when Lily tells him that she turned down the offer again. After a little pushing from Marshall, Lily admits that the reason she turned down the offer is because she was worried she would be terrible at the job. She’s been doing a fine job as the Captain’s art consultant in New York, so I’m not quite sure why she thinks Rome would be any different. Maybe because overseas travel is involved? She does mention how she had to come home early from her college study abroad semester in Paris, and her stint living in San Francisco while she and Marshall were broken up was short lived, too. That doesn’t seem like a good reason to be totally insecure in quite this way, though. I never really saw Lily as the insecure type at all, come to think of it. She’s always been the one who is so sure of everything that she manipulates her friends’ lives to be how she thinks they should be. Anyway, the upshot of this whole conversation is that Lily and Marshall now want to move to Italy for a year after all. Clearly, per TV rules, this won’t actually happen, or if it does it will be short lived (like Robin’s time in Japan in season 4…I think).

The resolution to the B story wasn’t really much better. Ted confronts Barney about how he should be treating Robin better, and that Robin isn’t really the “cool” chick Barney thinks she is. According to Ted, seeing Barney hit on or ogle other women really does bother Robin. Barney doesn’t believe this, or at least he doesn’t want to believe it, and the argument gets really hurtful. As you can see from the quote of the episode above, Barney decides to throw winning Robin’s heart in Ted’s face. He basically says that he knows Robin better than Ted does (and he knows she’s cool) because he’s the one actually marrying her. This gets an understandably frosty reception from Ted. Unfortunately for Barney, though, I think Ted’s right. The shell of a Robin on television now most definitely is not cool with Barney’s shenanigans. The Robin I thought I knew from the earlier seasons would have indeed been cool with it, though. I miss the old Robin.

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