|Like father, like son?|
I was worried I’d find John Lithgow unsettling as Barney’s dad on How I Met Your Mother after his terrifying role on Dexter, but luckily “Legendaddy” was a strong enough episode to wipe any traces of the Trinity killer from my mind.
This episode was, really, everything I could have hoped for. There has been a lot of build up to Barney meeting his dad, and I thought it was appropriately disappointing. Not for us viewers – the show hit the right balance of humor and heart to make for a great half hour of television. But for Barney. His first meeting with his dad was far from a success. He second meeting wasn’t great either. But neither encounter was so disastrous that it will prevent them from seeing one another again. We know John Lithgow is confirmed to appear on the show some more, so I think this episode was a great set up for what should be Barney’s best story arc.
Papa Was A Rolling Stone (Roadie)
Barney’s first meeting with his dad didn’t go that well. Barney told the whole gang that his dad was a crazy rock star tour manager who drank like Barney, hit on chicks like Barney, and was just generally legen- wait for it – daddy. But of course, Barney was lying.
In reality, Jerry was now on the straight and narrow. He was a typical suburban dad with a wife and two kids. He had “switched lanes” long ago and was now employed as a driving instructor. And really, that’s the worst thing he could be.
No one wants to experience an empty, damaged childhood only to find out that some other kid is living the fantasy with your own parent. But it took pressure from the gang for Barney to realize that.
The whole crew held an intervention for Barney and convinced him to have dinner with Jerry and his family. I love that the “Intervention” banner is still kicking around – HIMYM has always been great with running jokes – and it felt right that the gang would pressure Barney into seeing his dad a second time. They’re like family, and they aren’t afraid to step in and let one another know what’s best for them. But the dinner was tough for Barney. He couldn’t pretend that he just didn’t like his dad any longer, that he simply thought he was lame. It was right there, in his face – his dad had a family, just not with him. There was a Jerry Junior, and it wasn’t Barney.
Barney trying to take down the basketball net was so funny, but so sad at the same time. And the episode wasn’t wrapped up with a bow at the end – Barney left, hurt and confused. He wants a relationship with his dad – if he didn’t, he wouldn’t have written that letter – but once it was there, it was too painful. I think this storyline could be really interesting for the show.
Meanwhile, the episode’s subplot also hit that magic balance of funny and heartfelt that HIMYM rocks when it’s at its best. Marshall had realized that ever since his dad died, no one disagreed with him. It was a power that he used to get Barney to have dinner with Jerry, actually. He played the dad card and Barney couldn’t say no.
Marshall had first noticed it at the bar, when his voice hilariously cracked (as he ordered a mojito, no less!) and no one mocked him. So he started testing everyone. He told ted and Barney that The Phantom Menace is the best Star Wars movie and they didn’t argue. He moved a possum into his and Lily’s apartment.
It became painfully obvious when the gang started pointing out “gaps” to one another. Barney didn’t know how to use tools. (At least, not ones that aren’t attached to him.) Ted had been pronouncing chameleon wrong his entire life. (Who’s with me in pronouncing “Hermione” wrong for at least the first couple Harry Potter books?) Robin had made it through life thinking the North Pole was a fictional land. Lily had no aim. But no one would point out Marshall’s gaps, even after he declared his own perfection.
It brought up a real issue – how do you treat someone after they suffer a terrible tragedy like losing a parent too soon? When do you start treating them normal again? Is it better or worse to do so? No one knows the answers.
This episode, like most of HIMYM since the Death episode, was a good one. It wasn’t funny in a laugh out loud kinda way, but in a “Isn’t that so true?” kind of way. This is the kind of stuff HIMYM excels at, so I was really happy with the episode. What’d you think?
Now, check out these favorite moments and quotes:
- “Ted this is your seduction lounge. Sex swing here, vibrating jello pit right there, rotating Vietnamese shame wheel right here…don’t ask you’re not ready.” – Barney, in Ted’s renovated house. (And FINALLY, we return to the house! When has Ted been secretly renovating it? It’s about time we heard about it again.)
- “Long story short I’ve been managing tours ever since and that dude high fives people with his face now.” – Jerry
- J.J.: “I got a paper route.”
Barney: “Hah! Good time to get into print media right Dad?” (Loved all of Barney’s insults towards his poor, eleven year-old half-brother, but this one was the best.)
- Marshall’s soul patch.
- Marshall trying to swallow a pill.