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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

How I Met Your Mother: "Slapsgiving 2: Revenge Of The Slap"

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You're setting yourself up for failure if you bill your Thanksgiving episode as a sequel to one of the most beloved episodes of the series.  And for most of tonight's "Slapsgiving 2: Port of Call New Orleans," the failure is real.  It's all delayed gratification and garden-variety family drama until the last two minutes.  Then those last two minutes provide a high for the season so far.  Isn't that how it always is with sequels?

It's Marshall and Lily's first time to be hosting Thanksgiving in their own apartment, and in gratitude for Ted and Robin rescuing the 22-pound organic turkey from the Port Authority lost and found, Marshall bequeaths his fourth slap (out of a total of five) to the pair of them.  It wouldn't be an inheritance if somebody weren't fighting over it, though, and so after complimenting each other on their slapping prowess (Ted wants to be Robin's slapprentice, Robin calls Ted Eric Slapton), the struggle begins in earnest over who gets to slap Barney.  Meanwhile, Barney graduates from flinching every time either of them raises a hand to encouraging the fight in hopes that the sun will set before they settle on who will deliver the slap.

And the delaying tactic that the writers use to fill up the twenty minutes before the transcendent final two?  Lily's estranged father Mickey, a failed board game inventor (played by Chris Elliot), shows up for Thanksgiving.  But he's dead to Lily, along with the neighbor who used to steal her newspaper, the bridesmaid who critiqued her dress, and the bodega owner who gave her regular coffee and told her it was decaf.  So Lily and Marshall fight about whether you should welcome family into your life or hold the twenty years during which they broke your heart every day against them.

About the only part of that storyline that works is the adorable little spark-and-ash effect after Lily's murderous gaze of death vaporizes those who displease her.  Well, that and the board game that Mickey brings along to Thanksgiving: Diseases. ("The Fun's Infectious!")  So let's move on as quickly as possible to the climax, featuring abortive slaps from every single person in the room.  Ted gives up his slap to Robin because Barney treated her shabbily.  Robin gives up her slap to Mickey because he's just returned to the fold.  Mickey gives up his slap to Lily for all the times he disappointed her.  And Lily just can't do it.  After four pathetic outbursts in anticipation of being slapped in the face as hard as possible, Barney is off the hook and rising from the slapping throne when … well, you know how it ends.  Marshall sends him right to the floor.  That's four.  You just got slapped.  Yeah, that just happened.  And it was worth the wait.

Stray observations:

- For those of you who joined us late and enjoy a basic cable subscription package, Lifetime has just started over airing HIMYM all the way from the beginning.  Watch Ted's descent into douchiness and Barney's ascent into awesomeness in glorious HD.  Set your TiVos.

- One of the failed board games I noticed in the background of Mickey's basement apartment: Landmine Lunge.

- Slap bet commissioner rulings tonight: Slaps are transferable; the slap bet commissioner can deliver a slap.

- "This once pure fruit has turned into a poisoned slapple."

- Ted wants to slap Barney so bad that he'll even lie about still being in love with Robin.  That's seriously wanting to slap Barney.

- "It's not real bile.  It's just lead-based paint from China.  And horse bile."