A review of last night’s “How I Met Your Mother” coming up just as soon as I name your lady parts…
“The Pre-Nup” was in some ways an improvement on the season premiere, in that it mainly focused on what was happening to the characters in the present, it gave Thomas Lennon more to do as Klaus, and was one of the show’s better overall uses of Bob Odenkirk. And while the demands of Barney’s pre-nup (and then of Quinn’s counter) were completely cartoonish, if any live-action TV character is going to be responsible for such a document, it’s Barney Stinson.
But I think the episode made a couple of significant tactical errors.
The first is the gag where Future Ted announced that nothing interesting happened in the Summer of Love, and that we should therefore fast forward straight to the Fall of Break-Ups. And the problem is that something interesting did happen in the Summer of Love – the “HIMYM” writers just weren’t interested in showing it, because they like to keep the show tied fairly close to the real calendar. Seeing Victoria re-integrate herself into the group – and seeing how the gang (but Robin and Lily in particular) react to the news of how she and Ted got back together – is a story that’s absolutely worth telling. So, for that matter, is how Quinn and, especially, Nick, came to be treated as full-fledged members of the gang, when that’s virtually never been the case with outside boyfriends and girlfriends. Stella and Zoey and Don and the others all got a partial membership at best, and I think there was a good story to tell about the group adjusting to this influx of newbies, even if it’s just a case of the Summer of Love’s positive vibes making it easier than usual. But Nick in particular is such a non-entity, having made two brief previous appearances that spanned more than a season,(*) that we needed to get a sense of him fitting in with the others.
(*) Nick, for those who don’t know, was supposed to fill the Kevin role last season, until the “Fairly Legal” filming schedule made Michael Trucco unavailable, which necessitated the hiring of Kal Penn. Bays and Thomas said that because Future Ted had promised Nick would return, they had to bring Trucco back at some point; this is it.
(I might also lament that doing it this way skipped past the most physically exhausting part of being new parents, but given how goofy those jokes were about Marshall and Lily in the premiere, I’d just as soon we move on to a world where they’re sleeping a little, and taking turns going to the bar.)
The larger issue, though, is one where the series’ structure is getting in the way of things. Because we know that Robin and Barney will wind up engaged, and that Ted and Victoria won’t stay together, and because we know that this is the Fall of Break-Ups, these stories just turn into a mechanical exercise about how each of the three couples will split, and it becomes impossible to invest in any of the relationships. Once upon a time, that wasn’t the case for the show. We knew Robin and Ted wouldn’t be a long-term thing, but that relationship and the stories about it were written so well that I didn’t care. Had Stella and Ted started fighting in every one of her appearances after the first, I imagine I might have enjoyed having her around a while even if she wasn’t the Mother. And Quinn was fun to have around at least at first, even as I began to assume that Barney and Robin would give it another shot before the end. At this point, though, the outside characters feel only like obstacles to delay our heroes from hooking up with their true [insert Klaus’s fake German word here]. If Victoria gets more to do in an upcoming episode, I might feel differently about that one, because we know how good Josh Radnor and Ashley Williams can be together when a dumb story isn’t getting in the way. Mostly, though, I just want to get to winter.
And maybe the idea that most or all of these couples will be busted by the end of the autumn will turn out to be a good thing for this possibly final season. Maybe it means that Robin and Barney reunite sooner rather than later, and Bays and Thomas really aren’t foolishly saving the Farhampton wedding for the very end of the season/series. At the very least, ditching the outside love interests might force the show to spend at least part of the season just telling good stories, rather than setting up the pieces for the end game.
What did everybody else think?