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How I Met Your Mother: Oh, Canada

Last week’s episode, our commenters and Emily Nussbaum agreed, was way too sitcom-y. This week, to its credit, HIMYM directly addressed the No. 1 cause for that lingering bad-TV aftertaste: Marshall and Lily’s newfound lameness.

When Ted finds out Gazola’s, a Chicago pizza place Marshall and he road-tripped to in college, is closing, the two plan one last pilgrimage. Ted’s psyched to get some alone time with his best bud; ever since the wedding, Marshall and Lily have become an annoyingly inseparable, “we” instead of two “I”s. But the morning of departure — with Ted and Marshall all hopped up on Tantrum, the super-caffeinated extreme soda they used to guzzle back in the day (funnier than it sounds: Marshall rips a phone book in half!) — it turns out Lily’s tagging along. Uh oh!

Also, Robin’s in trouble. A guy she smashed up at a bar fight (awesome) at her Canadian hangout the Hoser Hut is suing, and she could get deported … unless she becomes an American citizen. Thankfully, there’s a citizenship test this week!

(Two nitpicks: (1) HIMYM already did the “Robin might get deported” subplot. (2) The quickie citizenship test is on par with Family Matters in terms of the “glaringly unrealistic but extremely convenient plot development” scale. Has Robin even filled out her N-400 Form?!)

In the car, we flash between a lame 2009 version of the Gazola’s trip (Lily’s constant need to pee, soundtrack courtesy of an Elisabeth Hasselbeck—approved audiobook about a lost dog read by Kenny Rogers) and the awesome original (abundant jerky, Proclaimers on the stereo, Ted’s lovely Jew-fro). Which brings us to a previously hinted-at development made explicit in this episode: Have Marshall and Lily really become this lame since the wedding? That’s tough to swallow. Would a married couple really act that much differently from a co-habitating couple who spends all their time together?

Things come to a head at Crumpet Manor, the couple-oriented bed-and-breakfast (activities for single people: “Do you enjoy sitting on a bench?”) that Lily and Marshall insist on staying at. Ted freaks out and tricks a robed Marshall into the car, at which point they set out to Gazola’s on their own. Scantily clad Marshall rolls with it (they’re singing the Proclaimers again!) until they finish their pizza, but then gets all bummed that he left Lily, forcing Ted to admit he’s hurt that he never gets quality time with Marshall anymore. On the way back to Crumpet Manor, and with the help of the audiobook, Marshall realizes he’s been doing Ted wrong; also, Lily was too busy getting pampered to notice she was left alone. Yay!

Meanwhile, Barney’s helping Robin study for the test, and even has her swaggering like a real American (“Maybe I’ll rob a liquor store; maybe I won’t. My choice”). But a bender with a women’s curling team at the Hoser Hut leads to her waking up in Toronto. Barney chases her down and brings her back home, but the whole experience makes her realize she’s not quite ready to give up her Canadian-ness. So she’ll get dual citizenship! Double yay!

Much of this seems an excuse for a barrage of Canada slams. We understand if some folks are burned out on the Canada jokes by now … but we’re not! Our favorites:

• “This five-dollar bill they gave you is blue … and then there’s kids playing hockey on the back! It’s like you want us to make fun of you.”

• “I’m at the most Canadian place in the universe — Tim Hortons.”

• “Shrimp-fried rice! Shrimp-fried rice!”

Photo: Courtesy of CBS