Review: ‘How I Met Your Mother’ – ‘Ring Up’

Senior Television Writer
01.22.13 54 Comments

A review of last night’s “How I Met Your Mother” coming up just as soon as a flash mob breaks out in front of a group of Korean American food trucks in Williamsburg…

First of all, I want to commend “Ring Up” for definitively putting to rest(*) a Mother theory I’ve been hearing about for several years. No, Barney’s half-sister (mentioned in a throwaway line in one of the Lithgow episodes) is not The Mother, even if making her that would have made all the “Aunt Robin” references literal. (Which wouldn’t explain why the kids also had Aunt Lily and Uncle Marshall.)

(*) Or maybe it won’t, given the number of people who are still insisting that Ted might be married to Robin in 2030, or that the Mother is someone he met long before Robin and Barney’s wedding. Pet theories are hard to let go of.

As for “Ring Up” as a whole, it felt, like much of season 8, only partially baked.

The idea of Ted struggling to relate to a much younger girlfriend had promise, for instance, which the Mad Libs scene briefly delivered on, evoking past “HIMYM” devices like the nightclub subtitles from “Okay Awesome” or Robin bringing Orson Bean to Slapsgiving. But the story very quickly shifted into one about Barney trying to get a contact high from Ted, and then led to the over-the-top wedding sequence.

(Also, while Ted and Barney’s conflict referenced Barney hooking up with Ted’s mom, it for some reason did not mention Barney explicitly choosing not to hook up with Ted’s sister, which would be the better parallel – even though Barney knew at the time who she was.)

Similarly, Robin discovering the downside to an engagement ring – in a device “Scrubs” used back with Sarah Lancaster as Gift Shop Girl – needed a little more time, whether to expand on the musical number or to give us more variations of the problems Robin never had to deal with(**) before she turned invisible.

(**) The line about her not paying rent is a kind of late-stage “HIMYM” case of pushing too far for the joke. Once upon a time, Barney was the only character on the show who lived by cartoon rules. Now, they all do.

On the other hand, the wrist cuff turning into an aphrodisiac for Lily was probably the exact right length. We got the joke, got the larger point about the difficulty of keeping the sexual pilot light lit once a baby arrives, and got out just as things were starting to get too absurd. (And Marshall’s reaction to Lily in the mom jeans fit sadly, amusingly well with what we know about him.) 

There have been episodes this season that outright irritated me, and there have been a few that reminded me of what the show used to be. But a lot of them have been like “Ring Up,” where you can still see the components of vintage “HIMYM,” even if the end result was mostly forgettable.

What did everybody else think?

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