How I Met Your Mother Recap: Smoke Break

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Photo: Courtesy of CBS
Character from How I Met Your Mother
Episode Title
Last Cigarette Ever
Season
5
Episode
11

Yesterday was the last episode of the year for How I Met Your Mother; when it returns on January 11, it will do so with its 100th episode, a landmark that promises a “big-ass musical” number from Barney, a guest appearance from Rachel Bilson, and “serious Mother action.” Which means, we guess, that they’re saving all the good stuff: HIMYM’s 99th episode was just another intermittently funny, largely plot-development-free installment.

Things get going with the disclosure that Robin is a part-time smoker. Also, Marshall. And Barney. And Ted. And Lily. And now, they’re all going to quit for good! Seeing as pretty much everyone we know in New York resides in this same amorphous smoker/non-smoker partition, we liked this bit. What we didn’t like was the moralizing. HIMYM’s usually pretty good about working around the structure of Ted telling these stories to his kids (and during a prime-time network show), like when the crew’s college-era weed smoking gets turned into “sandwich eating,” without coming off as stodgy. But this episode — namely the jokey “consequences of smoking” segment that featured Ted sweating while climbing the stairs and Lily talking in an insufferable film-noir rasp (by the way, they actually paid Harvey Fierstein to do the voice; see, aren’t you glad you read these recaps now?) — was straightforward, and awkward.

The plotlines focused on Marshall attempting to win over his tough boss (Bob Odenkirk, in a nod to the comedy nerds, returning as Arthur Hobbs) during cigarette breaks, and Robin attempting to drown out her bitter new co-worker, Don. As much as we appreciate all the Jason Segel screen time, Marshall’s bit was not very fruitful, and was mostly there in order to have his boss’s heart attack be a reminder to the group that they really need to stop smoking, you guys! Meanwhile, the ostensible plot development is that Robin will eventually date Don, despite the initial animosity. But, we were already told that last week. Still, we liked Don! The tighty-whities at work were solid, and the colonoscopy jokes were even better: “My colonoscopy had more viewers than this show”; “I’ve been on a network. You’re in these ergonomic chairs, feels like you’re sitting on a cloud. Which is nice, because it was right after my colonoscopy.”

So, yeah — the gang all attempts to quit at the same time, which leads to overeating, fighting, and everyone calling into Robin’s show together to talk her out of taking an apathy-confirming drag with Don on air. By the end of the episode, we’re told the dates they all manage to quit smoking for real, with Ted’s coming “two weeks into dating your mother,” complete with a dopey close-up. And, as usual, the best bit was a Barney riff:

Barney: I only smoke in certain situations. Post-coital. When I’m with Germans ... sometimes those two overlap. Pre-coital. Birthdays. To annoy my mom. On a sailboat. The day the Mets are mathematically eliminated every year. And ... wait for it ... pregnancy scares!
Ted: Why are you smoking now?
Barney: I‘m always pre-coital, Ted.

Other Recaps:
The Shame Index and we are finally of one mind: this episode was lame.
The A.V. Club asks: "Is this the first time the kids have spoken in the 2030 framing sequences? (They said "What?!" four times.)" They've spoken before, right?
TV Squad wonders, "Can a person have too many Vikings lamps?"