The writers' strike was tough on all of us. So it was nice of the HIMYM crew to give us a mythology episode right off the bat. That yellow umbrella really warms my heart.
Score this one 1/3 shaky, 2/3 legendary. Barney does some rather stale Barney schtick to convince Ted to go out with him on St. Patrick's Day, ditching suddenly lame Marshall and Lily (whose idea of an appropriate March 17 beverage is green tea). There's some business with Ted's phone calling Marshall's accidentally when he sits on it wrong. Pocket dialing, Ted calls it. I confess, I don't carry a cell phone -- is that (1) an actual thing (2) an actual thing that HIMYM is exploiting for a catch phrase (3) not an actual thing?
Once Ted sheds his scruples and joins Barney plus hot chick duo in line at the club, the universe starts asking screwy. The doorman says the club is full of chicks and dudes are in short supply. (?) They order champagne on some stranger's tab, and get caviar on the side. (??) A bold hot chick invites them over for bellybutton tequila shots. (?? ... oh wait, that seems to always happen on TV.) Ted calls it an "ethical-philosophical wormhole" -- the worse they act, the more they get rewarded. But Barney soon has the whole bar shouting, "No tomorrow!" Do what you want with no consequences, he says. A free pass for one night.
Meanwhile Marshall is carrying Lily over the threshold of their new apartment, with Robin along to carry the housewarming gifts. But while Lily is running from room to room looking for freebies left behind by the former owners (skateboard! salad strainer! Hungry Hungry Hippos!), Robin and Marshall discover that the castle is more like a slanty shanty. Desperate to conceal this dream house defect from Lily, Marshall claims that their consternation is because they saw the ghost of a Confederate general "out for revenge on the Union cannonade that felled him."
Now it's been established that I don't like clubbing, on-the-make Ted. He's scuzzy. And here, as he's locking lips with a married girl and thinking that he came out ahead because he escaped with a black eye instead of being hauled off in the paddy wagon, I was wondering if the rest of the season was going to be Don Juan Ted instead of everybody's best friend Ted.
But Marshall said in the third act what I was thinking in the second: "You're turning into Barney, and we don't need another Barney." Sure, the revelation (courtesy of that pocket dialing plot device) that Ted was acting like a jerk instead of accepting the miracles of a merciful universe was a little forced, even a little preachy. Sure, the crooked floor came off in the end as an excuse not to break up the ol' gang midseason. But I appreciate the link forged between the two storylines. Ted was seeing the whole thing crooked.
Clues, coincidences, and crazy-ass theories: That girl that Ted bumped into and exchanged brief "sorries" with -- was that the mother? Because if so, um, she doesn't look like the marrying type.
- I'm so glad Marshall's back. Let's all find a way to yell "Hey Lil! Free nail!" hoarsely across our domiciles this week.
- When Lily is in distress over the idea that a racist ghost inhabits her new apartment, Marshall protests: "He loves people of all races and creeds! He's just fighting for states' rights, that's all!" Shades of the classic Apu citizenship episode: "Just say slavery." "Slavery it is, sir."
- I'm so glad Robin's back. When she's unconvincingly going along with Marshall's ghost feint, she deadpans, "I felt something pass through me and I felt cold, So very cold."
- And the best gag of the night: The free Hungry Hungry Hippos game pays off in a scene opening where Lily, sitting on the downslope, can't figure out why she keeps winning.