Sunday, May 12, 2013

HIMYM 8.23: "Something Old"

“Because maybe it’s dumb to look for signs from the universe. Maybe the universe has better things to do. Dear God, I hope it does. Do you know how many signs I've gotten that I should or shouldn't be with someone? And where has it gotten me? Maybe there aren't any signs. Maybe a locket's just a locket. A chair is just a chair. Maybe we don't have to give meaning to every little thing. Maybe we don't need the universe to tell us what we really want. Maybe we already know that. Deep down.”

I really don’t know how I feel about this particular episode. I know that as a TV blogger, it’s kind of my job (using the term loosely since MTVP makes no money) to have feelings about episodes of television, but HIMYM has just gone so far off the rails that I don’t really care anymore. Even as much as a year ago, the scene between Ted and Robin at the end of the episode would have had me ranting for paragraphs here about how Thomas and Bays have complete destroyed Barney and Robin. Instead, even going into the episode knowing there was some sort of Ted and Robin development at the end, my reaction was pretty much “meh…well at least they didn’t kiss or something.” I guess I really have no faith that Barney and Robin will be written well anymore. And part of it is that we know Robin at least somewhat gets past the hangups she has at the end of the episode, since we know that the wedding day with all the trimmings does still happen, even if we don’t yet have a guarantee that the wedding sticks.

This episode is really about all the characters being stuck in the past, which I guess makes it somewhat appropriate that there’s a bit of a Ted and Robin note at the end. Especially since out of all the characters, Ted and Robin are the most stuck in the past. Marshall and Lily are packing for their impending one year stint in Italy, but they’re having trouble deciding on which of their belongings should come with them, and which have to be given away. There is only one solution to this problem, and it’s a solution they would rather not take. That would be to ask for Ted’s help. Apparently Ted is now a packing whiz who managed to bum around Spain for two weeks with only a fanny pack. The only problem is that Ted is very arrogant. He shows up in aviator sunglasses, trying to look all cool and failing where Barney succeeded in season one’s “Slutty Pumpkin.”

At first, Ted’s suggestions are helpful. He’s got a “keep” box and a “triangle” box. You’ll recall from that strange episode a few years ago where the gang is trying to get rid of Marshall’s old wooden barrel that he used as a night stand in college that the Triangle refers to how when they put stuff on the curb in front of the apartment, it disappears, like the Bermuda Triangle. Ted also serves as a decisive arbiter when Lily and Marshall can’t decide what to do with any particular item. Over time, however, it becomes obvious that Ted isn’t as impartial a judge as he seemed. He’s encouraging Lily and Marshall to keep things that have sentimental value to him (Ted), even when they could care less about it. The case in point is a really old, disgusting beanbag chair. Ted’s attached to it because it’s the first piece of “furniture” that the three of them had in the apartment when they first moved to New York, and Ted is afraid that if Marshall and Lily can throw away that chair to go to Italy, they’ll throw away their friendship with him, too. I do think it’s interesting how since Marshall and Lily have been moving forward in life, getting married and having a family, they’re cool with letting the chair go, but Ted is still stuck back in their early 20’s glory days.

Meanwhile, Robin is in the middle of her own journey to the past. When she was a teenager, her father took her to New York City, and while in Central Park, Robin buried a locket. It was a reminder to herself that she intended to move to New York City one day, get married, and wear the locket as the “something old” in her wedding. I really never saw Robin as the dreaming about her wedding type, and Ted calls her on that near the end of the episode, so the conceit works for me a little more than it would have otherwise. There’s the typical flashback sequence we’ve come to expect this point that hammers home how much Robin’s dad wished she was a boy. That actualy does have some relevance in the present day, as we learn that Mr. Scherbatsky has really taken to Barney, because it’s like finally having a son. The two of them are playing laser tag together while Robin is frantically digging up Central Park with a trowel looking for her locket.

Barney and Mr. Scherbatsky are getting along splendidly and enjoying ganging up on the helpless little kids at the laser tag place, but then they get into a disagreement over who is going to be point guy and who is going to provide cover fire. They end up recruiting the kids into rival laser tag teams, and they have a pretty intense grudge match. Barney’s team, which he calls Team Animal House, has a lot more fun, mostly because Barney gives them candy. Which is kind of creepy now that I think about it a bit. Eventually, Mr. Scherbatsky’s team gets frustrated and quits, so Barney wins. The win comes with a price, though. He’s blown off a phone call from Robin where she was freaking out about the locket. He should have known that it was important, but he didn’t. Guess he forgot his lessons from “Robin 101” a few years ago.

When Robin gets blown off by Barney, she calls Ted, and at first it seems like he’s going to blow her off too, because he’s got a meeting about designing another building. Instead, though, he shows up in Central Park. Robin explains that she thought finding the locket would be a sign from the universe that she was doing the right thing by marrying Barney. While she acknowledges that Barney has made great strides in the past few years, she’s nervous that he still isn’t quite ready for marriage. Ted gives a big speech about how many waiting for a sign from the universe isn’t the best way to live life (even though it’s kind of been his guiding principle for the whole series), and maybe Robin should just do what feels right. Robin finally finds the box in which she buried the locket, but she’s pretty devastated to find that the box is empty and the locket is missing. Both Ted and Robin just sit there in a tableau, not sure what to say next.

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