‘How I Met Your Mother’ bounces back with solid episode as stakes are finally raised for Marshall, Lily

'How I Met Your Mother' bounces back with solid episode as stakes are finally raised for Marshall, Lily

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Rohan Nadkarni, Blogger

Welcome to The Current’s “How I Met Your Mother” blog! For dedicated fans of the show, we’ll be reviewing each and every ninth-season episode in 2014, as we barrel toward the series finale in March. We’re here to document every laugh, cry and drink at MacLaren’s Pub until Ted finally meets the woman of his dreams. 

“How I Met Your Mother” rebounded from a lackluster midseason premiere with a solid episode Monday night.

“Unpause” saw Lily and Marshall finally hammer out their differences over Marshall’s acceptance of a judge job in New York, halting Lily’s plans of moving the family to Italy for a year for her art career. Meanwhile, Robin and Ted interrogated a drunk Barney, who reached a new level of inebriation: “truth serum drunk.”

We’ll start with the B plot: Barney’s truth serum gag was kind of lame. I find it odd when shows throw random traits onto their characters after we’ve known them for so long. In nine years, wouldn’t we have seen Barney at this level of intoxication before?

Fortunately, the writers saved the bit with some clever jokes and solid flashbacks. We finally learned Barney’s job, which ended with a hilarious payoff of Barney having been colluding with the Feds the whole time. That joke was a masterful use of the show’s canon and a wonderful callback to the peace-loving Barney we met during “HIMYM’s” heyday.

Ted digging to the bottom of Barney’s sordid jokes about his mom was also a nice touch, as were the magic jokes. Otherwise, the plot didn’t inspire much. There were too many predictable one-liners, and an obvious Barney “I really do love Robin” spiel at the end.

The meat of the episode dealt with Marshall and Lily. The two attempted to resolve their conflict, with Lily repeatedly assuring that they would be going to Italy and telling Marshall he needs to quit the judgeship he already accepted.

Last week, I complained that Jason Segel was losing touch with a character that had no other place to go. This week, I thought the writers gave Segel something great to work with, specifically in the episode’s most serious moment.

Marshall called Lily out for her trip to San Francisco at the end of the first season, when she dumped Marshall in search of a more meaningful life. Lily basically ran away crying after Marshall referred to her current life as a “consolation prize” for the meaning Lily did not find out west.

Again, this whole fight seemed a little out of touch for the couple. But it finally led to something interesting. It wasn’t worth the whole road trip and all that nonsense, but it’s nice to see both Marshall and Lily stick up for themselves instead of being their usual lovey-dovey selves all the time.

I just hope the writers have an adequate amount of time to resolve the situation. It will be delicate, as wrapping things up neatly in one episode could suck all weight from the story, but letting it linger toward the finale presents its own set of problems.

Lastly, “Unpause” was bookended with lovely flash-forwards of Ted with The Mother, who was pregnant with the couple’s second child. We’ve only seen brief glimpses of Josh Radnor with Cristin Milioti, but the two have great chemistry.

We’re still not sure when in the current timeline Ted will meet his future wife, but I’m hoping it happens sooner rather than later. It would be great to see The Mother as part of the cast, and in general to have the whole gang together for some adventures.

Stray observations:

  • Was anyone else worried that Barney is going to be unemployed in two months?
  • So Robin is rich? I feel for Ted, who paid for all of their dates. You ever try that stuff in high school? You will quickly end up bankrupt and single.
  • “I was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double.” We’ve all been there, Barney.

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Twitter: @rohan_nu