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How I Met Your Mother Recap: Point Taken

"Now We\'re Even" -- Just as Ted (Josh Radnor) starts to settle into his new apartment alone, Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) tries to entice him into going out every single night on HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER, Monday, April. 16 (8:00-8:30 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.   Photo: Richard Cartwright/CBS ©2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Oh, HIMYM, how you waste our time in the tiniest ways. You’re only 23 minutes, after all. But what happened last night? Lily had a sex dream, Barney bragged about dating a stripper, and Ted learned the benefits of living alone. (Yes, constant nudity is one of them.)

But while the ever-imploring Ted was discovering the benefits of drinking beer and eating old soup, the ever-swinging Barney was struggling with the hardships of being a stripper’s boyfriend. At first, it seemed like there was no end to the comic potential, but there was in fact a very real end to it, involving a double entendre about doughnuts.

Marshall’s use of swatches to match Lily’s embarrassed face was inspired (vermilion=carnal shame), and it didn’t take long to find the other man from Lily’s dream cheating: It wasn’t George Washington, or Bill Cosby, or Papa Smurf, but Ranjeet, the gang’s loyal and racially stereotyped driver. The guys’ guesses were noble — Barney had been trying to “incept” Lily for three years before Inception came out, and Ted figured Robin to be the seductress. How much better would this plotline have been if that had been the case?

But HIMYM showed us small mercies. For instance, instead of setting us on the scent of the security guard at World Wide News and his potential musical success, Future Ted admitted that his band only went on to have one song that didn’t suck. And instead of indulging Barney’s every possible whim in pursuit of a legendary night, we were treated to a highlight reel: the night they started a mariachi band, the night they ate everything on the menu, the night they brought a horse to the bar, the night they stole the mummy from the Museum of Natural History, and the night they spent with mole people (it’s somewhat unclear which, if any, of these events actually happened).

Now it turned out that Ted and Robin hadn’t been talking ever since he scored Quinn’s apartment, which had been ominously forecast a few episodes ago when Future Ted informed us that the two wouldn’t see each other “for a long time.” But the logistics of this arrangement remain a mystery. The rest of the gang sees each other with regularity and Robin and Ted didn’t officially have a falling out, so it doesn’t follow that they would be able to successfully avoid one another. Regardless, they have, and Ted wanted the dispatches of his life to scan as “pretty good” (as opposed to the less flattering details of him demolishing Fruit Loops in the nude).

Actually, Ted was admirably happy, indulging in the single life as only the truly single can, in the comfort of his Wesleyan T-shirt while shamelessly watching old TV shows (though was Sanford and Son a believable choice for a marathon?). He made the very valid point that, if every night is legendary, no nights are legendary. To Barney, this meant Ted was losing at the game of life — the one where Barney gets 114 points for arbitrarily making up the point system and Ted gets 9,000 points for banging Robin before Ted (a joke that couldn't normally fly in real life, but it’s the least weird example of the weirdness that has passed between these two). Ted reckoned they were even; Barney cited an old challenge where Ted set the stakes at picking up a girl while wearing a dress, which Ted didn’t remember, but he sabotaged himself by correcting Barney’s pronunciation of the word suave.

The real reason for the elaborate gameplay, of course, was Barney’s anxiety — he wasn’t comfortable being the boyfriend of the stripper after all, and the hours of 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. were particularly excruciating. This is perhaps poetic justice for a man who’s spent all seven seasons objectifying women with inventive slurs, but the plot didn’t play out just yet, so we’ll presumably revisit it soon.

On to Robin. The helicopter crash was a big on-air moment for her, except this time people were paying attention (remember when she delivered a baby and extinguished a fire on the morning program and none of her friends saw it?). We appreciated Ted’s observation that sometimes New York has a moment “where every eye in the city is watching the same thing.” In a city that has seen a passenger jet land on the Hudson, a coastal blackout, and monumental terrorist attacks, Robin’s helicopter landing seemed trivial by comparison. Or really, the fictional depiction was trivial, but the actual act would have been memorable. Again, this is a plot point that will prove to be more important, though it was titillating to watch the gang be titillated by the spectacle. And it brought Robin and Ted together (at least over text — so their silence didn’t last that long, Future Ted). And according to Wikipedia, they patch up their differences next week. We were barely aware that they had differences!

This was a pleasant but incredibly uneventful episode. With three more to go before the end of the season, we have to hope that things pick up next week.

Photo: Richard Cartwright/CBS