“Tailgate” must have been taking cues from “LOST” for this episode, because this entire half hour was actually a flashback within a flashback, as Future Ted recounts Marshall at the cemetery telling his father the events of the new year. Ted and Barney finally seize the opportunity to open their bar Puzzles and Robin faces some unexpected challenges with the production of WWN’s countdown news show.
This season, more than anything, has been telling about HIMYM as a whole. I’m not saying that you can’t have fun after you turn 30 (because I know that’s not true), but the fun changes. The hijinks aren’t the same (hello, Murtaugh List), but even moreso, growing older on a television show requires character development, which this show has given in spades. But where seven years ago these characters were on the cusp of turning 30, they’re now over that bump and trying to figure out where they fit in the adult world.
This most recent episode deals deftly with that topic, arguing that you can deal with serious situations on a half-hour comedy while still retaining your sense of self-deprecation. As much as I love Marshall and Lily’s joint plots, I worried we wouldn’t see appropriate dedication to the major event of last season, Marshall’s dad’s sudden death. However, Marshall spent the majority of this episode mourning his dad by tailgating at the cemetery, realizing that his dad was still teaching him lessons from the beyond. That’s one thing this show really has going for it – all of the actors are able to be serious and still maintain their layers of humor.
Another layer that I think is realistic is that Marshall and Lily have never quite been able to seal the divide between how they see their fathers. Marshall’s family is unusually close, playing games of Go Fish over the phone, but Lily only puts up with her father because Marshall asks her to. This is, I think, a realistic depiction of a problem that can stick in a marriage, and I actually enjoy that it continues to be unresolved, even though the characters make some sort of resolution about Lily’s feelings about her father every time he appears.
Robin’s Career Woman path continues to interest me for two reasons: it’s both completely off-the-wall unrealistic, and at the same time, she continues to be put down in favor of less competent men (here’s looking at you, Sandy Rivers). But because of this, she’s constantly forced to fight for herself in her professional life, and that’s another important takeaway here. Robin doesn’t get where she is just because she’s pretty and good at reading a teleprompter. Robin gets where she is now, a co-host of WWN, because of her talent and her willingness to go the extra mile, even when it’s ridiculous. And I’m proud of her for that.
And as much as I’m a fan of Robin and Barney, I can’t help but like Kevin. I know it sets us up for the inevitable betrayal, as Robin/Barney seems to be fairly endgame, but I think that’s a good thing. Kevin isn’t just a filler character anymore. Every episode that he’s on is made better because of him, not just because Kal Penn is funny, but because Kevin makes the other characters, especially Barney, work harder at being better people. His presence makes them reflect on themselves, and that’s something they all need right now, as they transition into what their lives are now.
Finally, we have Ted and Barney, who realize (again) that owning their own bar isn’t as fun as they thought it would be. They both use the party to pursue who they thought they would be at this point: an intellectual and a playboy, respectively. However, as the night goes on, they realize that this isn’t who they want to be, not by a long shot. They leave these solitary pursuits behind in favor of broing out on the couch with Kevin, watching Robin do her first New Years countdown on national television.
In all, I thought it was a good episode. Not my favorite, but an important episode nonetheless. Honestly, I’m glad we’re moving past the constantly wacky episodes and learning to make light of the serious as the whole gang moves into some serious stages of life – owning a home, raising a family, having serious relationships, dealing with life milestones like family deaths. These are the things that make a life, and at some point everyone has to deal with at least one of these. But just because serious things happen doesn’t mean we can’t have fun while we’re doing it, and that’s what this show is all about.
- The Barney Bubble: When to say when
- Family Dynamics: Lily and her dad
Watch new episodes of How I Met Your Mother on Mondays on CBS at 8/7C. Next week’s episode on Jan. 12 is a rerun of the seventh season premier entitled “The Best Man.”