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Season 8, Episode 21: Romeward Bound

Ok.  I watched the episode this morning, so I’m all caught up now.  Overall, I’m giving this one a solid B/B+.  I’ll explain why below.

What Was Good

As usual, the humor.  Particularly with Barney, there were a few real laugh-out-loud moments.  I loved the whole “Indiana Jones would not look at this body.  Her body could melt the face off a Nazi.”  “I want to get my face melted off!” bit was great.  The line about “Please.  Use a tripod.  Shaky-cam isn’t artsy.  It just looks sloppy” was hysterical, at least to me.  (I’m really NOT a fan of shaky-cam.)

Also, the Godfather II references were great.  “Cic’!  La porto!” and the Don Fanucci outfit that Marshall wears (which, apparently, was real and not just some dream sequence like Ross and I were guessing ahead of time).  My only gripes were that (1) Frank Pentangelli actually says “Cic’!  A porto,” I think, and that Marshall’s hat could’ve used a bit of work at the brim.  But I guess the props department didn’t want to shell out for that nice of a hat.  Understandable, I suppose.

Structurally, this was also probably one of the best balanced stories we’ve seen in a while.  The Lily/Marshall story was solid and entertaining with good use of Kyle MacLachlan, but also seemed pretty meaningful.  Marshall’s work is on the slide-out, Lily’s dealing with her own professional anxieties, etc.  And the Barney/Robin/Ted triangle was well played, too.  I particularly liked how it seemed all jokey-jokey on the surface, but had a few really meaningful moments.  More on that in a bit.  But really, I think the thing that worked best about this episode was that it didn’t try to run too many different plotlines at once, and the plotlines it was running weren’t so complex as to compete too much with each other.  You just had a solid A and B story, and that was that.  For next season, I really hope they try to do more of this.  It’s a return to show’s earliest form when you’d usually only have two stories going on at most.

What Was Meh

Marshall’s job being on slide-out seemed a bit of a convenient dodge to me.  It worked, but it was just a little too wrapped-up-with-a-bow to me.  I’ll allow it, though.

I’m not sure where they’re gonna go with the whole “The Ericksons move to Rome for a year!” storyline.  I’m a little concerned that they’re doing this to remove them from the board so that Ted’s left even more alone (which seems kinda unnecessary, given that they have a kid who, by the way, shouldn’t he be headed into toddler territory by now?).  The trouble I see on the horizon is that they move them away, only to undo it a few short episodes later.  “Oh, it didn’t work out.  The Captain got bored, so now we’re home!”  I don’t like when shows make major changes and then just hit the undo button, ya know?

Other than that, no real complaints.  I didn’t “like” Barney’s behavior in this episode, but I liked it.  See below.

General Thoughts (salute)

So.  The Ericksons are Romeward bound, per the title of the episode, thereby removing more of Ted’s support structure.  While it’s unlikely they’ll stay the full year, I could see the time they’re in Rome accounting for the summer break.  Maybe when they get back they meet the Mother who’s with Ted and the first half of Season 9 will be Ted and the Mother jointly telling them how the relationship got started.  Say…  That’s actually kinda clever, if I do say so myself…

Anyway, so, they’re headed out, presumably after the wedding.  And speaking of the wedding, Barney’s getting married in 3 weeks, which apparently puts this episode actually a little forward in time to, like, the middle of the 1 st week of May, 2013.  Not 100% real-time, I guess.  Also, they have a wedding planner just showing up at T-minus 3 weeks?  Good luck with that, guys…

Now, as for the real meat of the episode…the interplay between Barney, Robin, and Ted (whom I shall now refer to as “The Triangle” in the interests of brevity and because I think it sounds cool).  We’re clearly starting to build the tension in the season, and I can see that Ted busts his hand up due to a fight with Barney maybe.  Also, Barney’s reaction to Ted warning him about being too casual with Robin?  Dude.  Bit of a dick move there, twisting the knife about “You’re not getting married, Ted.  She’s marrying me.  Not you.”

Could it be that Barney is more than a little threatened by Ted?  Hmmmmm…..  Maybe this whole “I’m staring at boobs everywhere and making threesome jokes left and right” is all a cover for Barney’s insecurity.  Likewise, Robin’s clearly acting like it ain’t no thing, but I think Ted’s right – below the surface, she’s scared, too, and Barney’s cavalier attitude…probably not helping.

I’ve been wondering how they’re gonna deal with those issues, and have been a bit frustrated at how pat the solutions to the various “I don’t trust you” issues have been.  How quick and sitcom-easy-resolved-in-22-minutes they’ve been.  Robin freaks out, Barney gives a flowery but Barney-esque speech, and all is well again.

Or perhaps not…  It could be that all those tensions come roiling to the surface again in the next three episodes.  Because, and this to me is the important part, as cool and tough as both of these characters are (Barney and Robin, that is), they are fundamentally driven by insecurity and self-doubt, which only makes them try to act tougher/braver.  I’m looking forward to seeing how all of that is ultimately resolved (hopefully by the end of this season and NOT dragged out into the start of next season).

And lastly…Ted.  Poor Ted.  Have I mentioned that it was a dick move by Barney to twist the knife like that with Ted?  I mean, on the one hand, yeah, I get it.  Ted’s an ex of Robin’s.  And it’s a bit presumptuous of him to be telling Barney how to behave towards his fiancée.  On the other hand…Ted’s right.  Robin may seem cool with all this, but it’s gotta be eating at her.  And Barney is being pretty insensitive (and, to my eye, insensitive in an almost defensive way, if that makes sense).  But I really felt for Ted.  Josh Radnor played that scene masterfully.  Actually he and Neil Patrick Harris both did.  It was the perfect balance of cruelty on Harris’ part, and appearing wounded but trying to hide it on Radnor’s part.  Really just top-notch acting there.

So, yeah, a solid B/B+.  We didn’t REALLY move the story forward, but it looks to me like we laid some important groundwork leading into the final three episodes.  Here’s hoping next week continues the streak!

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24 Comments (Add Yours)

  1. If you wonder why Solo and I try to comment right away it is because of the little box below and to the left of the Post Your Comment Button. When you check that box and Post, the website will e-mail you all the rest of the comments for that Post only.

  2. Barney’s verbal “bitch slapping” of Ted was too much! When Ted was trying to warn Barney about Robin not being cool with the new hot chick thing and Barney totally humiliates Ted, but Ted stays cool, I am feeling there will be major hell for Barney for this! I had to see if anyone else was freaking out on this too? I guess not unless there’s a bunch more comments I’ll see if I post this. I hope this isn’t too big a spoiler if you’re not wanting them just yet, but the episode has aired and you have to see what happened to get this. It was so out of character for Barney the writers must be setting something up. But that’s what’s so great about this show, you never know whats gonna happen. We were all starting to like Barney too much, they can’t make it that easy!

    • OK I got it, check the little box, I did not do it above, hope it works for this one.

      • actually i don’t think it was that out of character for him. Barney has always been kind of smug but it’s always so out of this world and over the top and even adorable at times that one doesn’t notice or even hate him for it. He usually does it because he doesn’t notice in a “haha i win, i’m better than you” even with his proposal to Robin, he had to have known had he paid attention to anyone but him that this would ultimately hurt Ted. Here too, he says it, however I don’t think its in a bitchy way that you saw it, but rather in a “I’m Barney and I can say whatever I want because I’m legan-wait-for-it-dary! That’s just his character but for once it really hurt and kinda made him seem like the ultimate d-bag.

        I also see a showdown coming and Robin being pissed and Barney having hell to pay for it. However, in a way it is a kind of closure Ted -Robin – Barney needed…after all you HAVE to acknowledge at SOME point that the girl Barney is marrying is someone his best friend/best man had been in love with for almost a decade. You can’t NOT have that talk and continue on with a healthy relationship

    • I strongly believe that Barney was way out of place saying that to Ted, especially when Ted was 100% right. I think something is going to happen to Barney… We’ll see!.

      • I think it was uncalled for in a sense, but also not wholly out of character for Barney. And Ted’s been kind of a buttinsky about the wedding already, scheduling the wedding date, trying to pick a DJ, etc. We haven’t seen a ton of it, but I can see how Ted would be treating the wedding the way he’s treated Marvin — as a surrogate for the life he wants for himself. As a result, I can see his friends tiring of that behavior.

        Thus, when Ted offers genuine, heartfelt advice, and Barney snaps at him, I can see it fitting even if it’s an over-the-top response. I also think it highlights Barney’s insecurities.

        Pay attention to his words: “You think that you know my fiancee better than I know my fiancee?” (or something to that effect) And I think the unspoken answer is “Yes. And you know I’m right.” That’s gotta scare Barney, too. As much as he and Robin have a kind of chemistry that transcends and surpasses Ted’s chemistry with Robin, there’s a degree to which Ted is more clued in to Robin.

        I think that’s because Ted’s the kind of guy who’ll pay really close attention to a girl because (A) he cares, and (B) he wants to make her happy. You know, like a good husband. That’s not really how Barney is…nor for that matter how Robin is…so with them both knowing that in the back of their minds, it’s understandable that they’d feel stressed about that.

        In light of that, as dickish as Barney’s put down was, as needlessly cruel as it was, it’s coming from a realistic place — fear that Barney can’t be a good husband the way Ted could, even if Barney knows deep down that he’s not in competition with Ted.

        • I typed my comment below before reading what everyone was saying about this episode. I just watched it twice in a row during lunch for the first time.

          That said Ted does not live with Robin, Barney does. Ted does not know Robin like he did in the past. Yes Ted picks up on some things about women that other do not. But Ted also can miss the big picture and Barney know this.

          So Barney will take some of what Ted said and re-think his relationship at some point. This will happen later. Right now Barney thinks he can do no wrong with Robin.

          Robin is going to have a couple of freak outs before the wedding. The producers/writers are building towards a moment. We have seen most of the Barney Wedding freak out and the start of a Ted Robin moment that may rival that of the Limo.

          My GUESS is that when Robin and Ted talk in the Brides room we get to a touching moment. I hope it does not go the other way and Ted over reacts to Robins insecurity. The conversation that we have seen is Ted talking Robin down from her panic mode. Ted was about to have a good conversation with Barney but went RUNNING to Robin (Lily: The bride needs …you).

          I want to see that scene finish in episode 24. I want Robin Ted closure. This Triangle needs to be broken. Victoria was right, correct.

  3. Yeah that moment really struck me. It made me dislike his smug little face for the first time in quite a while.

  4. yes! I thought Barney’s “but you’re not, I am” comment to Ted was uncalled for. Give Ted a break! I think Barney is just nervous about the wedding coming up in three weeks.
    And dammit, I wanted to see the wedding planner’s body!!!

  5. My absolute favorite part however was the bit between Marshall and Lilly. I literally (yes in real life / actually ) had tears streaming down my face. Their love is sooo real and genuine you can’t help it. Marshall is definitely my dream man. The way he loves Lilly and is there for her and understands her and it is all reciprocated back is just amazing. One can’t help but hope for a love like that and if Ted and YM are anything like that, waiting all these years is totally worth it.

  6. Lily and Marshall tell each other everything and we are supposed to believe Marshall kept this big a secret from her?

    I am glad they decided to stick with her art consulting since she made such a big deal out of it earlier this season, but man, does Marshall get hosed in the job department. How will he ever get the credentials to be a judge if he doesn’t stay somewhere longer than 2 years?

    I feel like we are seeing Barney’s fantasy Robin. She is just so over the top into whatever he is now that I can’t believe it.

    And a year where Lily, Marshall, and Marvin are abroad? How is that going to work, or will they pull a Robin coming back from Japan?

    If Marshall and Lily are gone for a year and smug jerk Barney is lording marrying Robin over Ted, that sounds like a completely new rock bottom for Ted. How will he ever be able to win over the mother in that kind of scenario?

  7. Barney was definetly staking out his territory with Ted. Ted needs some boundries in that area. Robin belongs with Barney not Ted.

    At the Bar the first Time Robin was trying to show Barney she is okay letting him off the short leash. The Second Time at the Bar Barney tried to slip the collar completely and she was NOT HAPPY.

    So Ted was wrong in over stepping his Bro-Ship with Barney and Robin. He obviously works that out.

    But Barney was right in calling Ted off. It needed to be done. I agree with the way it played out.

    So per usual Robin overplays her insecurity with Barney eying other women. Barney steps right into her little nest. There has to be more to a relationship then SEX. Otherwise it will unzip.

  8. Side note:

    For those curious what Liddy looks like under that coat, you can look her up on IMDB. I did. And they’re right. Her body is redonkulous (although in a sort of commonly redonkulous way in Hollywood terms).

  9. Hi everyone! Big fan of the blog!

    One of the things that bothered me the most about this episode was not only the fact that Marshall’s job falling apart tied up everything so neatly, but the way it was portrayed. When they did all the flashbacks to Marshall “not really lying” about work to Lily, it seemed to me like a total rehashing of the Natural History episode from Season 6 when Marshall was “not really lying” and making up words to answer Lily’s questions about when he was going to start being an environmental lawyer. It just fell a little flat for me.

    For what the episode lacked in job transition, it definitely made up for it through Marshall and Lily’s heartwarming exchange. Ya gotta love Marshall’s varying inflections of “Andiamo fratello, non mangiarti da solo tutti i Funyuns.”

  10. 1st off what happen to have you met ted.com? is it owned by someone else now or what? just wondering

    what i thought about the episode. it was alright, nothing super special but it wasnt bad. my fav part was when she finally took off her coat and light shone in robin and barney faces and it was hilarious. and i was pleasantly surprised at lilys role in this episode. most of the time i dont agree with lilys choices but she was ok this episode.

    as far as barneys tone toward ted, it may have seemed rude and uncalled for but i mean put yourself in barneys shoes. has any of u been in one of those positions were a group of friends and more than one of the friends has dated the same person? its weird. lol trust me its weird no matter how much everyone trys to look past it and no matter how much everyone says “its totally not weird!” its totally weird. i mean ted shared so many intamate moments and feelings with robin now barney is sharing intamate feelings and moments with her and its hard on both of them. always wondering about the other, so when ted tried to butt in and barney shut him down i wasnt surprised and i would have done the same thing.

    as far as marshall and lily, it sure did seem like they were moving to rome did it not? if i had to guess most of season 9 they will be in rome, or at least 3-4 episodes. i dont think they would have made it a major thing just for them to return in 2 episodes. it sure will be weird to not have them be part of the tom foolerey goin on at mclarens.

    so my questions for u guys r, what will the last 3 episodes be about? i think they need to set up something, something to allign all the stars and what not. i just dont think they will be little funny haha episodes at least they shouldnt be. i want this season finale to be HUGE. i want to be talking about everyday until it comes back on.

    and second question. r yall happy about the erkisens possibly moving to rome and everyone moving on and growing apart? or is everyone upset and wants them to stay together forever?

    • To clarify what’s going on with ted-mosby.com vs. have-you-met-ted.com, the story is as follows.

      JD owns HYMT; Ross and I never owned it. We were just commenters there who ended up taking over the posting duties. The site started under JD, who used to write all the recaps, the news, etc. I think in Season 7 or towards the end of Season 6, JD got busy with other stuff and handed off his duties in commenting and basically running the site to Jordan.

      Jordan ran the site through Season 7, which is when I became an active commenter on HYMT, and I think which is when Ross got active in commentary, too (Ross might’ve been around in Season 6, though — I wasn’t, so I don’t know). In the summer break between Season 7 and Season 8, the site went dead, much like it did recently. Basically, the comments section stopped working and, without that, there ain’t a ton you can do with the site other than just keep posting news/articles/whatever as the site admin. Trouble is, you need a higher level of access to the site to actually fix problems like a dead comments section.

      Anyway, the site got back up and running, but Jordan was getting busy with other stuff (like figuring out how he was gonna propose to his then-girlfriend/now-fiancee). So, around S8E4 or E5, he stopped posting updates to the site. Ross and I kept on commenting, as many other folks did, however. By about Episode 11 or so, we decided to approach Jordan to see if he’d let us run the posting so he didn’t have to. Jordan handed over duties to us, and we basically started running HYMT.

      Then, around S8E17 or so, HYMT’s comments section went dead again. We tried fixing it, but couldn’t. We asked JD, but he was swamped with stuff. We tried a few other things, but nothing was working — JD would be the one who’d have to fix it, but he couldn’t get around to it, and the episodes kept coming. We tried the “email us and we’ll post the comment” thing, but that was kind of a pain in the ass for all involved, so we decided to start an alternate site, since we had no idea when HYMT would be back up and running. And that’s what brought us here. We (well, Ross mainly — I just provide the recaps and ongoing blather) run this site completely now, so if we have an issue with the comments section dying or whatever, we can fix it quickly rather than waiting for someone else to fix it.

      I’ll hit your other questions in a separate post.

    • So, on the questions re: Lily and Marshall…I think they do indeed go to Rome. They probably don’t stay there for the full year, but they go for a little bit. This works both in-story and out of the story.

      In-story, it removes another crutch for Ted and gives him time to spend with the Mother. Out of story it allows Jason Segel and Alyson Hannigan to have a minimal presence in episodes early in the season, which gives them both time to shoot films, work on other projects, attend to their personal lives, etc. We know Jason was one of the holdouts for Season 9, so Marshall and Lily being in Rome lets the writers have them still in the show, but not a major force in the show. Who knows. Maybe they do the occasional Skype session with Ted to catch up on things. It also allows them to possibly do a time-jump to where everything’s fine between Ted and the Mother, and it’s the lead-in to their wedding, but they end up telling Lily and Marshall an abbreviated story about how things got started between them. This would let the Mother narrate bit, too.

      They can always bring them back early, too, say, 4 months after moving there, claiming that the Captain met a woman and decided to go cruise the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, which left Lily without much reason to stay in Rome until he came back to the states. See? Easy out that DOESN’T require Lily freaking or being miserable outside of Brooklyn.

  11. I actually liked Barney’s comment to Ted.

    Ted cannot move on until he gets full closure on Robin. Barney realises this. I’m guessing that since Lily cannot keep secrets, she’s let slip about her conversation with Ted on the roof.

    Barney has been quite determined to get Ted to pick up his life – offering him the Playbook and trying to move Ted into the Fortress. This is Barney’s way of trying to help Ted to move on from Robin. However since none of it has worked, he needed to go to tough love with that comment.

    There is more to come from the Triangle with it’s climax at the wedding.

  12. So, folks have wondered where the Triangle is headed. We already know in broad strokes where it’s going: Barney and Robin will each freak out the day of the wedding, and Ted will try (successfully?) to talk them off the ledge and down the aisle. They’ll do it, get married, and Ted will move on and meet the Mother at the Farhampton train station.

    We also know that somewhere down the line, Robin finds out that Ted let Victoria walk away rather than give up his friendship with her, which will be the second major sacrifice he’s made to ensure Robin’s happiness (well, technically the first). The other being giving Barney his blessing to propose to Robin and letting her go (the first time. Wait. The second or third time. Whatever. Baby steps, Ted.).

    The prevailing theory seems to be that Robin finds out about this at or before the wedding, and it is part of the big freakout. There’s much speculation as to what happens to Ted’s hand at the wedding, too. I’ve got a few theories.

    My bet is that Robin finds out this season. I don’t know that it matters when this season (at the wedding or leading into it), but either way, she starts to question whether she’s marrying the right guy, since Ted clearly puts her happiness before his own, and Barney….doesn’t. As evidenced by his behavior in the months leading up to the wedding. I suppose it’s possible that Robin finds out after the wedding, but I think that’s kinda doubtful. It makes sense that this would be PART of the reason she freaks out at the wedding. Maybe even makes a play for Ted a la Victoria…which Ted obviously turns down (although, maybe he gets in one last kiss or something).

    2.) Re: Ted’s hand being hurt, I think it could be something totally mundane, e.g. Barney climbing out the window and Ted cuts his hand on the window sill pulling him back in. Or it could be something more dramatic, like Robin and Barney having a fight right before walking down the aisle, and Ted finally losing it and smashing something a la the gingerbread house in False Positive when everyone else acted like idiots and Ted set them straight. Or he might get into a fight with Barney who does something like biting his hand. OR maybe he and Barney seal a blood oath to always be bros and the only reason nobody’s thought of this is that we haven’t seen any pictures of Barney — say with a matching cut hand — at the wedding other than him asking Ted about the tie.

    HA! Didn’t think of THAT one, did ya?!

    Probably because it isn’t very likely, but whatever.

    Anyway, I think we’ll see a bit more tension and Ted’s dissatisfaction/discomfort with the situation, and we’ll also see Barney maybe act like more of a dick to Robin as well as Ted. Might be that Barney being a dick this episode is set in contrast to Robin finding out NEXT episode that Ted gave up Victoria for her, and that gets her thinking “Am I picking the right tie–er–guy?” And so on. But I think it’ll be something like that, plus plenty of stuff we can’t come up with.

    I do, however, think that the bulk of this will be resolved at the wedding, since Robin and Barney do get married.

    • does marshall still have a final slap? maybe he (and slap commissioner lily) lets ted use his last slap on barney.

      • He has two, actually. As of Disaster Averted, he had one left. He let Barney take off the Ducky Tie in that episode, but it would mean an additional three slaps would be added, bringing the total back up to four. Marshall then gave him two slaps on the spot, but still has two more left. I always figured the final one would be instrumental in getting Barney down the aisle, but it looks like that’s not gonna happen, unless they cram in two slaps in three episodes (or maybe four, if they drag the wedding into next season…)

  13. Solo, I loved the call back to the broath. I have the bro song on I tunes. It does help calm me down… until I start laughing.

    There are so many paths the show can take right now. The producers typed up a big mess this season that has to bleed into next year. That or we see a giant leap again, and not across a roof to a hot tub Marshall.

    So I am just jumping in here for a minute today during Lunch. Have you discussed the Lily/Marshall move. It will be played out in the next two episodes I guess/hope.

    Like Solo said all five of the main cast are in next season. That was the line everyone drew S8 E17 to cross into Season 9 or End with 8.

    I think the lead up to the wedding will be fun the next three episodes. On the other topic I appreciate everyone joining us in the discussion. I missed this the past month or so.

    Solo4114 does such a great job with his Reviews and Leading out with the Episode Discussion. It sparks the conversation that everyone picks up.

    So if you have just been a lurker all these years afraid like I was to join in the conversation… start now. Your thoughts typed out may be the one we all need to hear.

  14. just read some comments about the slap…you can google slap bet countdown and like 6 different ones will pop up. Remeber that one episode where Marshall called Barney and said to check his email and it was a count down to slap. Everyone remeber that episode? Well you can google it and several things come up but they all are different so I can decide which one is the right one, if any are.

  • The Mother