How I Met Your Mother: Barney Cracks Open the Playbook

How I Met Your Mother

The Playbook
Season 5 Episode 8

Last night’s installment wasn’t so much a complete episode as it was a string of scenes of Barney being Barney. And we were all for it! After his breakup with Robin, an episode about Barney’s return to the ladies was very much in order, and we thought HIMYM handled it with the right balance of reality and ridiculousness. That is to say, it was mostly ridiculous.

First, let’s get the subplot out of the way: A now-single Robin insists that she’s going to be focusing on her career, which leads to Ted and Marshall claiming that this is just the type of mindset people are in when they invariably fall in love. It also leads to a pretty funny frozen-waffle quasi-metaphor and one joke that we perceived as a dig at the New York State Legislature for not legalizing gay marriage. Plus, the last scene hints that Robin will fall in love with her new co-anchor, Don. Not too shabby, subplot!

The real action is sparked by Barney’s playbook, a leather-bound compendium of every trick he has pulled, and hopes to pull, in order to sleep with a girl. And … we’re off! There’s the “Don’t Drink That,” the “Cheap Trick,” the “Ted Mosby” (flannel-and-pity based), the “Mrs. Stinsfire” (yes, what it sounds like), the “Snasa” (a.k.a. Secret NASA, whose astronauts go to the Smoon), the “My Penis Grants Wishes” (the furniture comes to life), and, best of all, the “He’s Not Coming”: Barney goes up to random girls at the Empire State Building, saying “he’s not coming” until one breaks down into tears and needs consoling. (By the way, we thought Marshall’s intentionally bad “Wow, you wrote another book? We got … uhh … a Stephen King over here!” joke might have been the most brilliant moment of the episode.)

Oh, and the “Lorenzo van Matterhorn”: Barney poses as an eccentric, hot-air-balloon-traveling billionaire, complete with fake Google results for Explorers Club profiles. When that last one is utilized on a girl Lily was hoping to set up with Ted, Lily freaks out and steals the playbook, threatening to put the entire thing on the Internet unless Barney stops his whorish ways.

But he doesn’t! Instead, he heads to the bar to pull off the “Scuba Diver,” complete with wet suit and flippers. When Barney points out to Lily who the target is, she fills the girl in on the whole story, bringing together the crew, the random blonde, and the Pringles can tucked into Barney’s wet suit at a corner bar. Barney apologizes to Robin for his behavior, saying sweetly that this breakup’s been harder on him than he realized it would be — which is enough for the random blond to go out with him and leads to the big reveal: Every part of the episode, from Lorenzo to now, has been a setup for the Scuba Diver. Predictable and totally dickish (especially the fake apology to his very fresh ex-girlfriend), but funny!

This episode was basically one of those refreshing mid-meal palate cleansers, and we liked it. And if you didn’t, have heart: Next week’s episode is called “Slapsgiving 2: Revenge of the Slap.”

More Recaps:
The Shame Index makes some good points (and a cameo in our comments section) about how easily we’ve embraced old Barney.
Television Without Pity say it’s time to update its HIMYM dictionary.
And we can’t really focus on what TVFanatic is saying, as that outdated promo shot is weirding us out.

How I Met Your Mother: Barney Cracks Open the Playbook