Last night’s episode of How I Met Your Mother was heartbreaking, cruel and sad. Oh, and it was also amazing. It was like vegetables – sure, I’d rather eat a chocolate eclair but this episode was way better for the show’s overall health. Had Barney and Robin gotten together in last night’s episode so quickly after breaking the hearts of the people they were with, it would have felt all too easy. Instead what happened has created some unexpected and palpable tension. It was a really fantastic episode, even though it left me feeling angry at Robin. But more on that later, first let’s talk about the episode itself.
Cheater, Cheater, Pumpkin Eater
We’d left off with Barney and Robin kissing in the back of a cab, but it went farther than that – all the way to Barney’s apartment. The morning after, Barney and Robin had to talk about what it meant. It meant that Robin had cheated on Kevin, it meant that Barney had cheated on Nora. It meant they’d made a big mistake in that regard. But what did it mean for them?
One of the things I really liked about this episode was how much it surprised me. We’ve known all season that Robin has been harboring secret feelings for Barney, yet now that she’s met Kevin she’s waffling. Barney was pursuing Nora, that relationship seemed to mean something for him, yet it was like he suddenly saw the light and realized he should be with Robin instead.
At first, Barney and Robin agreed not to tell Nora or Kevin about what happened. It was terrible timing though, because both couples were committed to attending a cruise hosted by World Wide News anchor Sandy Sanders. Barney, Robin, Nora and Kevin would all be trapped on a boat together for three hours.
It only took about 3 seconds for Barney to panic about his and Robin’s secret once they were on the boat. Things were going horribly, but when Robin told Barney that she wished the night before had never happened, Barney responded “I don’t. What if this whole thing isn’t a story about how we both made a horrible mistake and ruined our relationships? What if it’s actually the story of how we got back together?”
It’s all about perspective. Barney and Robin both made terrible, selfish mistakes. If the show was being told from the perspectives of Kevin and Nora, they’d be the villains. But it’s not, and that meant it was possible for this to be the Happily Ever After. So Barney and Robin both decided to come clean, right then and there on the boat.
Of course, that was a terrible idea and neither of them went through with it. You don’t dump someone during a boat cruise! There are no escapes from boat cruises! That is the very reason why I usually avoid going on boat cruises, because it’s impossible for me to sneak away at 11:30 p.m. by stuffing my coat in my purse, saying I’m looking for the washroom, and secretly running home to catch Saturday Night Live! (Alternatively, you put your coat on and “go outside for some air”.) Just as Robin was about to tell Kevin it was over he was the accidental recipient of a very spicy cocktail in the face, and ended up with a possible concussion. Robin couldn’t dump him, she needed to take him to the hospital. Similarly, except not at all, Barney couldn’t tell Nora because she suddenly noticed a tiny wine stain on the sleeve of her dress. He could pile more bad news on her, you guys.
Still, Barney and Robin agreed to end their relationships and meet at McLaren’s for midnight. So Barney took Nora home, only to find her parents there waiting. It looked like he wasn’t going to do it, like he’d stand Robin up and break her heart. But after hearing Nora’s dad talk about what it’s like to find The One (and a fantastic montage scene of Robin), Barney realized he had to tell her. He broke up with Nora and confessed that he’d cheated. When she asked if he could tell her it didn’t mean anything, he said no.
But while Barney was dropping the breakup bomb, Kevin was at the hospital dropping the L-bomb. Before Robin could break up with Kevin, he told her he loved her. Robin was distraught and said she needed to tell him something, but Kevin didn’t want to hear it. He didn’t want to know about bad things she’d done in the past (even if “the past” was only LAST NIGHT, Kevin???) as long as she was committed to the relationship from there on out. (Oh Kevin, you are too good to be true. I could never let an “I need to tell you something” go unexplained, even if it was for my own good.)
Barney was at the bar, waiting for Robin to show up when the rest of the gang showed up. He told them he’d broken up with Nora but said “I think the worst part is over.” But it so, so wasn’t, because then Robin walked in…with Kevin. She hadn’t done it, and the scene where she looked at Barney and shook her head, and Future Ted talked about how that second felt like an eternity for Barney, was heartbreaking. Just plain heartbreaking.
This kind of episode is what makes HIMYM so great. It has the ability to make you laugh (I promise, I’ll get to the funny part of the episode soon) and hurt all at the same time. That’s why the storyline surrounding the death of Marshall’s father last season was so powerful. When HIMYM strikes the right chords, it is an excellent show. And this was an excellent episode. I was angry at Robin at the end of the episode. I was angry at her for being a coward, for making the wrong decision, for betraying Barney. She let him go through with it, she let him end his own relationship, she got his hopes up. I was mad about that, even though I understand it. And whether he was going to end up with Robin or not, Barney needed to break up with Nora. His heart was no longer in that relationship and it wouldn’t have been fair of him to stay with her. No one deserves to be a consolation prize, and Robin will eventually figure that out with Kevin. She stayed with him because she can’t believe he loves her, because he said all the right things, because he’s a great guy. She was afraid of what choosing Barney would do, and I think she was afraid of screwing things up between them. But eventually she’ll realize she can’t be with anyone else. I think it’s clearer now than ever that Barney and Robin need to end up together. It’s just a question of when.
Stoner, Stoner, Sandwich Eater
OK, the very powerful and heartbreaking Barney/Robin storyline was perfectly tempered by a lighthearted and funny Ted/Marhsall/Lily storyline. It was a pretty basic idea – having a kid means having to grow up, and Marshall was worried he wasn’t ready for that. But what mattered was what that said about the characters – about Marshall’s marriage with Lily and his friendship with Ted.
The three were attending a concert called Groova-Palooza so, naturally, Ted ordered up some “sandwiches” for them to enjoy. Lily had to abstain, obviously, but she expected Marshall to as well. After all, they’re about to be parents. Marshall hadn’t seen that one coming, and he “ate a sandwich” with Ted at the concert before Lily was in her seat.
Lily knew right away and wasn’t mad, but demanded some nachos instead. And so began the adventure of Ted and Marshall, incredibly stoned, wandering the stadium in search of nachos. It eventually led to them having a fight over Marshall’s inability to have fun like he used to, and Marshall’s fear that if he couldn’t even get his pregnant wife some nachos then he’d never be a good dad.
It turned out that the whole ordeal had only taken two minutes, as Lily pointed out when she found them sitting on the floor outside their section. The security tape of what actually happened was hilarious to watch after spending most of the episode seeing things from the baked point of view of Ted and Marshall. There wasn’t a lot to this storyline, but it was a great foil for what was going on in the rest of the episode and it felt well-suited for each of the characters.
At the end of the episode we saw a still-stoned Ted stumble into his apartment to see Barney cleaning rose petals off of Robin’s bed and blowing out lit candles. Seriously you guys, it was all kinds of sad. Ted was likely lucid enough at that point to know what was going on, so it will be interesting to see whether he acknowledges it.
Barney went out on a limb, and he wasn’t just left hanging – Robin took a chain saw a cut off the branch he was on, letting him fall and break like, six bones. You know, metaphorically. I still think that he and Robin will eventually end up together, but there will likely be some repercussions from this heartbreak and betrayal. Barney made so many strides in becoming a better, less obnoxious dude during his relationship with Nora. Will all that progress be lost? Will he become an even bigger player and jerk than he once was? A lot could happen with this, and I’m looking forward to seeing where HIMYM takes it.
OK, now it’s your turn – what did you guys think of “Tick, Tick, Tick”? Were you happy with the episode while being heartbroken over what happened? Did you think the sandwich storyline was funny? Sound off in the comments, and check out some of my favorite quotes and moments below.
- I appreciate how HIMYM has always maintained the sandwiches=marijuana joke. Not only did Ted and Marshall pull out a sandwich to eat at the concert (one that was laced with hard meats, no less) but some other concertgoers were passing a sandwich back and forth behind them. Good stuff.
- The guy telling Ted “Dude, it’s a sign” when it was literally a sign he was talking to, not “a sign”.
- The song Barney and Robin dance to on the boat, with lyrics like “you’re like scum on the edge of a toilet bowl/what the hell is in the place where you should have a soul?”
- Barney describing himself to Nora’s parents as “Suits, laser tag, I say ‘wait for it’ a lot.”