After two impressive episodes in a row, we were probably due for a lazy one. Barney’s sudden disregard for Robin might be part of a long con — certainly everything that happens “a little ways down the road” suggests as much. But their cat-and-mouse game is beyond tired (and these two are still going to be freaking out on their wedding day). In real life, that would be a huge red flag. This isn’t real life, though. The eighth season of a sitcom might be the farthest thing from it.
The premise was too familiar, but the idea was solid. Robin wants what she can’t have, or as Lily so eloquently said, “You may have closed the door, but he locked it.” Is that really true? We suppose so. The pair has gone back and forth so many times, and Barney has been consistently rejected, but he’s never ceased to be fond of Robin, and so she’s always had him in her clutches. Last night, for the first time in forever, he was preoccupied with anything but her: a stain on his tie, the creation of Bro Bibs. He played it totally straight, and it’s actually not so hard to see why Robin got so riled up. When Barney backs off the misogyny and immerses himself in a halfway decent scheme (like Not-a-Father’s Day), he’s a purely charismatic dude.
Elsewhere, Ted encroached on Lily and Marshall’s turf while nannying for Marvin, witnessing the tot’s first crawl, buying his winter wardrobe, taking him to see Santa, and turning him into a Cleveland Browns fan. The missing-out-on-a-baby’s-milestones part rang true, but would Ted really be so adrift after constructing the GNB building? Surely he’d have some steady work? These plotlines were very conveniently married, and we would’ve preferred it if Ted’s doting were because of his ticking biological clock rather than some thwarted ambition that hasn’t been referred to all season. Overall, it didn’t seem like the writers were trying very hard here.
What we liked:
- The lobster analogy. Though far from inspired, it will always be true that what’s denied us ends up being the only thing we could possibly want, thus Robin poisons herself by eating lobster the minute she finds out she’s allergic to it.
- Lily’s aggressive flirtation with Robin. A few episodes ago, we almost said, “Put up or shut up,” because this long-running joke felt like it was wearing a little thin, and we doubted Lily had any real intention of following through. But last night, she didn’t hesitate to get behind the "Robin and Lily Get Freaky” plan to help Robin win Barney back, even if Robin remained impossibly thick to her insinuations. Though it would seem that she invented the story of this being the trick that got Marshall’s attention in college. If we remember correctly from the episode with Blah Blah, Lily had been busy kissing some other guy that night.
- Bro Bibs. This did seem to be the perfect counter to Robin’s bid for attention, and we loved how both Barney and Lily seemed to be more interested in talking about them than acknowledging her. Also, good call on the Robin Williams model, a V-neck that shows a lot of chest hair. Bro Bibs = not a bad idea.
- Lily’s self-consciousness about drinking with her baby at a bar and Marshall’s defense that McLaren’s counts as a restaurant. This conversation happens all over the five boroughs and presumably beyond.
- Barney’s tie Cornelius. Though ridiculous, the seriousness with which the tie loss was treated kind of worked. NPH really committed to it, and even the baby that plays Marvin had good timing. Also: “I’m getting too old for this shirt,” a callback to the “Murtough List,” in which the Lethal Weapon character’s famous catchphrase leads Barney to try to prove to Ted that he’s not too old for anything.
- The voice inside Robin’s head that calls her a bitch before storming out and slamming the door.
- Marshall to Ted at the pool: “You’re half-naked; you’re not a parent to any of these children. Don’t offer them candy.”
What we didn’t:
- Robin. She was really detestable last night, and we don’t say that easily, because she’s generally our favorite character. But her act was too dumb, and her shrewdness was a little too on the nose. Sometimes it seems like it took the writers so long to realize how talented Cobie Smulders is that once they trained their gaze on her, that was it, it was overkill. Like the way Robin screams at Patrice now. What was once a mysterious little quirk — what does Robin have against this Patrice?! — is now a gag.
- Robin’s unimaginative gimmicks. The damsel in distress? Looking like Angelina Jolie? The placards implied that her ploys were somehow clever when they’re the oldest tricks in the book.
But we haven’t seen the end of Barney and Patrice, so with any luck, next week’s episode will legitimize this one and hasten Barney and Robin’s union once and for all.