A review of last night’s “How I Met Your Mother” coming up just as soon as I get to meet Sting…
It’s been an up-and-down season of “How I Met Your Mother,” and after the high of last week’s “Desperation Day,” we get the relative low of “Garbage Island.”
On a most obvious level, here was an episode of a sitcom that wasn’t especially funny. It wasn’t aggressively unfunny like some previous episodes have been – although The Captain’s personality (and Kyle MacLachlan’s performance) become much broader than it had been in his previous appearances – but I think the only time I even smiled was at Barney hearing all women who aren’t interested in sleeping with him that moment as adults from Charlie Brown cartoons. And even that was selling out Barney to a degree, since we know he’s perfectly capable of listening to Lily and Robin.
But there have been episodes of this show that I’ve enjoyed even when they haven’t made me laugh. My bigger problem with “Garbage Island” is that two of the three plots accentuated problems I’ve had with the show’s long-form storytelling for a while.
First, there’s Zoey. I’ve been saying all along that there was no possible way she could be The Mother given the previous clues, so it’s not that I was shocked or upset when Near-Future Ted(*) told Wendy the Waitress that he and
Stella Zoey broke up – and broke up spectacularly. But the show has painted itself into a corner now where any relationship Ted has with a woman who isn’t The Mother has to be really entertaining in and of itself to justify the time we’re spending on it – and this one hasn’t been. Zoey was an irritating character for a long time until the writers decided to abandon all her previous characterization in favor of “Gosh, isn’t Jennifer Morrison inherently adorable?,” so those episodes were no fun. And the idea of Ted having broken up someone else’s marriage just isn’t a place I would have wanted this show – and this main character, who has likability issues at times, anyway – to have gone. It’s too ugly, too messy, doesn’t reflect well on Ted and, again, makes me wonder why we’re spending a large chunk of the season on it. And as I’ve said, even the notion that Zoey might be a stepping stone to The Mother isn’t that appealing, since we already went through one of those with a similarly annoying girlfriend in Stella.
(*) When we’re going out as far as 10 years in the future, should the producers just dub Bob Saget’s voice in for Josh Radnor?
As for the Barney/Nora thing, I’m having a hard time viewing it through the lens of a show that A)already had Barney fall sincerely for a woman in Robin, which makes his protestations here – to Robin, of all people – ring false, and B)decided almost immediately that putting Barney in a relationship with Robin was a horrible idea. If that makes me a Barnman-and-Robin ‘shipper, so be it, but the show blew what I thought was a great opportunity there, and is now attempting to retell some version of that story with a new character we have no investment in, and an actress who (in part because she’s new) doesn’t have a fraction of the chemistry that Neil Patrick Harris and Cobie Smulders have. If the idea was that this somehow leads to the two of them getting back together, maybe I’d care, but given that Robin is the one who’s encouraging Barney to get with Nora – even as she suffers through a prolonged dry spell herself – it doesn’t seem like that’s on anybody’s mind. And that, to me, seems like a terrible use of resources by the show. If the writers feel that Barney simply shouldn’t be in a relationship, that’s fine – I disagree, but other fans are with them on that, and I can live with it. But if they’re going to go there, and Robin is still a part of the show and available… That’s silly.
I thought Marshall’s obsession with Garbage Island and the way it tied into his ongoing grief was just fine, and the scene in the dumpster between Marshall and Lily was a really sweet one – particularly since Marshall only took the soul-sucking GNB job to get out from under Lily’s credit card debt. If that had been a subplot in an episode with two stronger stories around it, it would have been fine, but it wasn’t good enough on its own to carry the other two.
What did everybody else think?