Seeing as this episode was all about Barney coming to terms with who his father really is, it took every ounce of willpower in our possession not to use a “Who’s Your Daddy?” headline. We managed to hold off only by repeatedly reminding ourselves that’s not a thing anyone anywhere says anymore for any reason ever, so we went with a Fleetwood Mac reference instead? Okay, actually, let’s not dwell on that bit. The important thing here? Our little Barney’s growing up.
It’s only the second episode of the season, but so far the HIMYM co-creators are holding steadfast to their season-six mission statement of re-upping the emotional stakes. A week after we find out all kinds of (ultimately irrelevant) details about Ted’s future lady, the attention shifts to the show’s most hilariously stunted character, and therefore best opportunity for a non-sitcom-y character-development arc. The show has already had Barney intermittently lose faith in his womanizing — like that time he realized sleeping with a lot of chicks to beat his grade-school rival wasn’t very satisfying, or when he was falling in love with Robin — only to backslide right back into his original ways. Last night’s episode may have held more permanent changes.
After Barney finds out his mom (once again played by Six Feet Under’s excellent Frances Conroy) is selling his childhood Staten Island home, he convinces the group to come help pack up his prized childhood possessions. While there, Barney’s bro Wayne Brady explains how their overly protective single mother would lie to them constantly to boost their morale, a pat but plausible explanation for Barney’s all-encompassing belief in his own awesomeness. The thing is, while Wayne Brady became a fully functioning member of society, Barney never stopped believing the lies — most notably a tossed-off one about Bob Barker being his dad. Wayne Brady then stumbles onto an envelope addressed to some random dude, with a photo of the two of them and a note that reads, “your son” inside, and Wayne Brady and Barney and everyone else are suddenly off to maybe meet one of the brother’s father. (Wait, should we have gone with “How I Met My Father” for the headline?!)
The crew arrives at a pleasant suburban Long Island home, where an older black man opens the door: It’s Wayne Brady’s dad! The two have a genuinely heartfelt reunion hug and within minutes are off dueting on “Stand by Me.” The ever-delusional Barney, however, convinces himself the guy is his dad, too, which is good for this line: “Guys, I’m black. Sorry, sorry, African-American. Although I can say either now.” But this is a moment of self-discovery, so when Barney gets home his mom tells him the whole truth: That guy isn’t your father; I lied to you about how you were so good at basketball the coach made you leave the team when you were younger, etc. She hands him a note with the info on his real father … and he rips it up and says something to the effect of, “Mom, you were the best dad I could have.” Happy ending, and new and improved emotionally stable Barney?