In the previous episode, the HIMYM writers treated their characters like real people with feelings that carry over and develop from one week to another. Last night’s installment — in which Lily gets on Ted’s case for always bringing random girls to the crew’s special private events — could have been dropped into the middle of any of the show’s previous five seasons, as it relied exclusively on the basic character sketches we’ve been familiar with since roughly the show’s third episode. That’s not necessarily unrealistic; people repeat themselves, and groups of friends definitely fall into the same squabbles and hang-out patterns. But it certainly was boring!
Things kicked off with Lily’s birthday, and one of the episodes few moments of mirth: Marshall prepared her breakfast in bed with the theme of “Spanish interlude,” complete with fake scenery of the “lyrical rolling hills of Northern Spain” and a guy playing flamenco guitar. We move quickly to the birthday party itself, where everyone’s waiting for Ted to show up with the cake. Instead, he shows up with his date, Amanda, a chef he met when he had to send some soup back (“She had such pretty hair I didn’t mind eating a little bit of it”), who’s promised to make Lily the cake right now.
And Lily gets pissed. With Amanda in the kitchen — yeah, it’s the classic “person a room over can’t hear anything we’re screaming about” sitcom technique — Lily walks Ted down “Random Skank Lane” (which is funny, but just reminded us of the funnier “Whore Island” from Archer), playing “name that bitch” with a series of photos from the gatherings Ted has marred with a plus one. It’s kind of weird: We get the intimate birthday, but Lily’s mad that Ted brought someone to New Year's? Also, of all the pointless celebrity drop-ins the show’s had, no one could have put a call through to see if the actual Slash would show up? How busy can that guy possibly be? (But the worst part was the generic hippie who shouted “meat is murder” and threw fake blood on the Benihana guy; the less said about that the better.)
After a brief flashback to Marshall, Ted, and Lily’s college days and a disastrous Paris trip, Ted defends himself: I thought every one of these girls would be the one; I’m looking for true love, blah blah blah. That all goes to hell when Amanda comes out with the cake, wishing “Lori” a happy 42nd birthday. Marshall gets heated and throws her out, at which point we find out that dude has a lot of repressed rage because he’s the one that’s had to comfort all these girls after Ted breaks up with them. This is where the wheels just completely fall off, 'cause that really makes no sense at all.
And the happy ending? Lily finds the first photo her, Ted, and Marshall ever took, and realizes Ted let her in all those years ago, so she should try to do the same with his ladies now until he finds the right one. Okay, sure. By the way, didn’t Ted’s tux seem kind of ill-fitting?
Unlike us, the Shame Index approved: "A clever central conceit, a series of amusing gags, a modicum of drama, and a heartwarming but not too saccharine conclusion. This is the way it should be."
Tuned In raises an interesting point: "There comes a point in any show about friendship where you have to ask: why are these people friends? Not how did they come to meet, but just why have they decided to bond together as a social unit?"