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Season 9, Episode 5: The Poker Game

As we saw from last weeks bluff. Barney was not fooling anyone. He was pissed at Ted for holding Robins hand. Ted played along oblivious to the real game. So who is bluffing and who is not, in this weeks episode of How I Met Your Mother?

Corina has graciously accepted our invitation to Guest Host this weeks Episode on, thank you. We look forward to reading your review on Tuesday.

So, another week and another episode in season 9 of How I Met Your Mother . Honestly, I can’t even handle trying to break this down into good and bad moments. So here’s what we’ve got as of last night:

We open with Marshall and Daphne in the Hummer, at 6 PM Friday. Marshall is giving the pizza version of his “Best Burger in NYC” speech. It has some poetic elements to it, and it’s a little funny. At this point I’m hoping it’s a good start to a quality episode.

Now we jump to Barney’s bachelor poker party. When Ted tells Robin and Barney about his total of three different wedding gifts, Lily fumes. Why? Because supposedly Ted never bought Marshall and Lily a wedding present. Fine, I can buy this plotline, even though it’s thin. It is plausible that Ted forgot, or they got confused, and have been passively aggressively pursuing the issue ever since.

For me, the best scene was the flashback to Lily and Marshall six weeks after their wedding. Marshall’s shaved hair is growing back in a patchy Mohawk fashion, and it’s a perfect moment of continuity from the show. Then things get confusing quite abruptly.

Supposedly, “a few months later”, and then “a few months after that”, Marshall dresses as a wedding present for Halloween. This is his method of shaming Ted into buying them a gift. First issue is that Marshall looks like a Christmas gift in his green, red, and gold costume. The second issue is that it seems like they are referencing the Halloween right after the wedding, but that’s not possible.

Lily and Marshall were married in May 2007, so you would think this is October of 2007. But, we already know that Ted, Lily, and Marshall had different costumes that year. In 2007, Marshall was C3PO, Lily was R2D2, and Ted was the robot Luke’s uncle almost bought from the Jawas.


Then we see Lily, admonishing Marshall for not wearing his half of their couples’ costume. Lily is dressed as Paulie Bleeker from the movie Juno , and Marshall is supposed to be a pregnant teenager (as in Juno, the main character of the movie). That movie came out in December of 2007, so we must be seeing Halloween of 2008. They could have easily explained that to save the confusion, but they didn’t bother. This is just one of several inconsistencies that bothered me last night.

So the tension between Ted, Marshall, and Lily feels a little ridiculous, but I did enjoy the gift wrapping station and subsequent overly wrapped thank you note. Now let’s jump back to the poker game, where James is being a total douche. It’s too bad, because he used to be a really awesome character. Now he’s, well, a douche. And that’s douchey, not douchay.

James won’t stop talking negatively about marriage, and it’s getting under Robin’s skin. She asks Barney to intercede, but he doesn’t want to choose sides. He encourages Robin to talk with James on her own, but then later gets upset that she handled it her own way. Robin wins James’ wedding ring, and later Loretta’s shirt, because she is suddenly an amazing poker player.

Let’s address that real quick. Last night we were told that all of the Stinsons actually say the word “bluff” when they are bluffing at poker. This doesn’t fit at all with what we know about them. Loretta was holding her own in roadie poker games back in the seventies, and James and Barney both lied constantly to get sex. None of these things would have worked out well if Stinsons can’t bluff.

So I thought that was inconsistent and annoying. Also, Robin is said to both giggle and/or talk in a high pitched voice when she’s lying. She’s the obvious choice for bad bluffer, but they twisted the concept in a really silly way for not much payoff.

Next we see the gift issue from Ted’s perspective, and he did buy them a wedding present – a coffeemaker that they think is from Stuart and Claudia. Okay, this still makes some sense. Ted goes to the same Halloween party dressed as a thank you note. Apparently Ted’s costume wheelhouse is just hanging cardboard signs around his neck, but whatever.

I appreciated this scene for two reasons. One, I was wondering about the Halloween costumes this year. I have them all sorted out in an article on my blog, titled “Happy HIMYM Halloween!” Two, we saw a cameo by none other than the Slutty Pumpkin. Katie Holmes returned for a silent, uncredited cameo in the background. I approve.


Back at Farhampton, Barney turns to Lily and Ted for advice about his family drama. It’s a legitimate issue, but it seems forced to make it all happen now. Robin has already bonded with Loretta and James, so why do we have to set up this conflict? It didn’t seem that funny and it definitely didn’t seem at all necessary.

The high point of this scene is that Barney insults Lily, and we see her exacting revenge on him after his honeymoon. A flash-forward shows Barney after they’ve returned from Belize. He has corn rows in his hair. CORN ROWS on the Barnacle. But Lily’s presence at MacLaren’s, after the honeymoon, sure does indicate that she isn’t in Rome. I think most of us assumed they were staying in New York for Marshall’s judgeship, but this scene took the mystery away.

This is where the episode got nearly unbearable for me – Lily tells Ted that he didn’t buy them a wedding gift, and Ted believes her. What? Ted does not trust his own memory of purchasing a wedding gift for his two very best friends. Um, okay. That makes zero sense and it not even funny. Then Robin mentions that she was with Ted when he bought it, and suddenly everyone believes her. Because her word counts more than Ted’s in this matter, I guess.

Now Lily thinks Stuart and Claudia were lying about buying them a coffeemaker. They have arrived at the hotel (another nice moment of seeing old characters come back), so Lily goes to investigate. We learn that Stuart pulled a Robin on the wedding gift – he put his card on Ted’s gift, just like Robin switched the cards on Lily’s bridal shower gifts. Ted shows up with a new present, but Lily clarifies what happened.

When Barney talks to James alone, he finds out that James was an extra crappy husband. He cheated all the time, and went to the gym multiple times a day despite having two young kids and a husband at home. There is a moment of maturity and character progression as Barney recognizes that this behavior is not good. He realizes that he is marrying Robin so he can be part of a team with her, and they should always have each other’s backs.

This moment would have been lovely had it ended there, but it didn’t. He also tells James and Loretta that once he’s married they are no longer his family, and he says that Robin is the one who demanded this. Awesome. This sets up more unnecessary and not that interesting conflict that I personally don’t want to see.

There’s a good bro moment between Ted and Marshall, when Ted has a pizza delivered to the Hummer that Marshall is traveling in. Marshall is really excited, and Ted tells him not to say another word – save it for the thank you note. This all felt real and true to their characters for me. But, I wish Ted could have just sent a driver or something so Marshall could have gotten to the wedding sooner.

I went into this episode with high expectations. I thought they would show us a balance of Mother and non-Mother episodes, with this one being (finally) another Mother episode. But it wasn’t. There is no balance thus far. I didn’t even want to watch the episode again, and normally I happily will watch an episode several times in one night before blogging about it.

I’ve said this before but it’s a point that bears repeating – this isn’t the season we were told to expect. So many fans were disappointed about the season 9 wedding weekend format, but we were told it wouldn’t just be filler episodes. It was supposed to have quality moments between these characters that we’ve been devoted to for so many years.

Here’s what I’ve been seeing online: first, someone complains about this season, because it has had some supremely disappointing episodes. Then, someone else points out that this is all in one weekend, so they have to have these type of small, real time conflicts for the format to work. Then, we all remember that they didn’t HAVE to make this all in one weekend. Trying to use that as an excuse is stupid, because very few fans ever wanted this format in the first place.

They could have used this season in a number of more effective and entertaining ways. But, they stuck with this concept, and now people are getting disappointed regularly. My final thoughts on the matter are simple:

If we’re going to see just this one weekend, and there has to be some filler content, make it funny. Make it make sense. Respect the integrity of each character and make sure the plot stays true to who they are. Pay attention to the back story so there aren’t easily spotted discrepancies .

I don’t want an episode just for their to be an episode. I want a good episode. We all deserve a whole season of good episodes after staying true for so long. Hopefully we will see that sometime soon, but I’m not holding my breath at this point. Web Links

The Life of Ted, a Complete Timeline

Another Corina Creation FAMILY TREES




49 Comments (Add Yours)

  1. Now that was a much better episode than last week’s! And how fun to see (don’t keep reading if you haven’t yet watched!) Marshall’s hair growing in 6 weeks post-wedding and a glimpse of the Slutty Pumpkin!

  2. I hate being this guy, but I did not enjoy that at all.

    There are a few episodes that never require a callback, and even though I love the movie Amadeus, The Best Burger in New York is one of those episodes.

    Resurrecting Gazzolas made me mad until Ted surprised Marshall, then it didn’t bother me quite as much.

    The Stinson Missile Crisis showed us that the gang wore Star Wars costumes the Halloween after Marshall and Lily got married, so that whole thing made me sad, as did the pumpkin cameo.

    I liked that they had a story line about Robin and Barney’s relationship and what that means going forward, but then again, I felt like they should have handled stuff that like last season. It was way too sitcommy for me.

    James’ character has been completely destroyed, worse than Victoria.

    We’ve seen more of Zabka than the mother at this point. There are plenty of other guest stars who deserve more attention than Gunn and the “karate kid.”

    I’ll leave it there for now.

  3. Corina, how would you get the droids/robots for the rest, up onto the roof with C3P0 anyway?

    Time will tell if your Review was actually too kind to this episode.

    I just re watched and I give it a D for the dump that the arrow pointing down referenced.

    Also Solo should be able to shed some light on this episode when he gets over his Jet lag.

  4. I really, really disliked this episode. I believe it’s mainly because the Mother wasn’t in this one. Where did she go? Wasn’t she supposed to be a regular? If she had made an appearance, even brief, I might not have disliked this episode so much.

    I also agree with a lot of what Proffessor said. It feels like the writers are trying to swap Barney and James’. Now Barney is the one getting married and James is the promiscuous one. Is there a reason for this?

  5. This episode obviously frustrated me quite a bit. I know there are fans that really enjoy this season, but as of episode 3 I’m not one of them. Am I asking too much of the show? I wonder sometimes if I’m just being too picky. Based on what I’ve heard from other fans, though, I’m in good company.

  6. Are we supposed to believe that while Marshall and Lily were living with Ted during season three (after their wedding, and before the un-level floors were fixed in their new Dowisetrepla Apartment) and presumably using the Coffee Maker in question, Ted didn’t crow about the amazing gift he’d gotten them for their wedding?

  7. I’m not going to go into the whole episode, because I just don’t have the time and energy, but for what it was I did ENJOY it. I’m EXTREMELY disappointed with this being week 3 with no Mother (this is getting ridiculous, where the hell is she?), but I did enjoy it.

    Honestly, though, I understand Lily being upset about the wedding present with how greedy she can be (and that’s not an insult, I’ve always found that cute and funny about Lily, its just part of her character), but I can’t see Marshall caring that much. Ted’s an amazingly close friend and was a great best man through a lot of hard times leading up to the wedding. Maybe because I’m not a gift person myself, but I tend to be the other way around. If you never see a person and they come to your wedding, its nice to give a gift as a symbol of “Congratulations” but if you see the person ALL THE TIME and KNOW they care and are happy for you and have done a ton for you already, does it matter if they give you a gift? That seems a bit shallow. Like I said, I could understand Lily caring, but not Marshall. Drop it, dude.

    And ya know, I don’t know if I agree with everyone about James. Oh yeah, was he clearly a terrible husband? Yeah. Is it being hinted at that the breakup was mostly his fault? Yep. But…you’re surprised?

    Let’s remember something here. James used to be EXACTLY. LIKE. BARNEY! Lily even said when describing him to Robin before they met back in season 2 that he’s “exactly like Barney.” Only difference is that he’s gay and would use deceitful means to hook up with guys and have one night stands instead of with girls like Barney. But he was just as much of a player as Barney. Even though he fell in love with Tom and thought he was ready for the commitment and responsibility of a marriage and fatherhood doesn’t mean he was. It sounds like it all happened pretty fast.

    We never saw any of James and Tom’s marriage, not really. Just an occasional cameo. People say all the time that it wouldn’t be out of character for Barney to ever cheat on Robin or be a crappy husband (which I disagree with) because old habits die hard, but when you think about, why should this be any different with James? James was very much into the single life, then fell in love, it happens, and decided to get married and adopt a kid VERY quickly. Barney has had years of character development before deciding to settle down. He’s had the support from Ted, from meeting his father, from observing Marshall and Lily’s great relationship, being committed to two other women prior, AND knowing the love of his life (Robin) for YEARS before proposing to her. If anything, I think it makes more sense for Barney’s marriage to succeed than James’.

    So yeah, I think the character has been ruined in that he’s not as admirable or fun with the way he seems to have changed, but the more I think about it, its not so strange. It makes a lot of sense that James wasn’t ready to commit, and I kinda admire the writers for not acting like his life turned out perfect as we all thought it would.

    Also, yeah, since Robin and Loretta bonded in “The Bro Mitzvah” its a little strange for them to be “at war” now. Then again, Robin hadn’t yet caused any tension between Barney and his family last season, so maybe now Loretta’s finally getting defensive. Either way, I’m interested in where it will go, as we’ve already been told time and time again by Narrator Ted that the wedding will not go smoothly. I’m sure many people play a part in that.

    • You make a really good point about James. I don’t personally like where his character has gone but it does make sense and it stays true to his background. Single James is just like single Barney, and that’s how it should be.

      It is unfortunate but not surprising that he cheated. Please note in advance that gay marriage is just the same as straight marriage in terms of validity, commitment, etc. However, there are I believe more gay male couples (married or otherwise) that are more open about having sex on the side than there are among straight marriages or lesbian marriages. I do not have proof of this beyond my own observations of friends and family, their insight into their culture, and how queer culture is presented in pop culture.

      Point being, remember when that guy hit on James in “Single Stamina”? He said he was discrete, and that may have been a part of James’ expectations for marriage. I would guess that Tom objects more to the constant absence of his husband versus potential discrete encounter. Of course, James might not have been discrete at all.

      So those are my thoughts on that. As for the wedding gift – etiquette rules say that guests have up to a year to give you a gift, but gifts are never required and should not be demanded or expected. So yes it would be crappy for Ted to not get them a gift, but like you said, he’s been there for them in so many other ways. And it all could have been handled with one easy conversation.

      I find it hard to believe that this issue never came up during a drunken conversation in the span of the past six years.

      • generalizing across large groups is difficult and ultimately really unfair and potentially offensive, but I understand what you were trying to say. I just hope no one was offended.

        • I also hope that no one is offended. I realize it’s a risky topic of conversation. Much of this is based on a convo I had last night with my best guy friend. He didn’t see anything particularly odd about James cheating, and said it was not that shocking given the nature of gay male relationships. So really that only applies to his take on gay relationships, but it happens to align with what I’ve heard from others. I suspect that, if this is true, it’s more of a dude thing than a gay thing anyway. :)

          • True that I don’t know of any specifics stats or personal friends in the community, but I find it hard to believe gay males in relationships are somehow more okay with open relationships than straight or lesbian couples are. Sure, there are PEOPLE that are okay with open relationships, but a majority of Americans are in marriage for monogamy, and I’ve never heard that gay males are more or less interested in that. I think most try to treat marriage, especially how hard they’re fighting to get it, the same way most do. I wouldn’t really generalize like that. But I know you didn’t mean it to be offensive, and were going off of experience of one person, so its okay.

            • You know, despite my gay friend’s experience/feedback, I agree with you on the marriage thing. We are at a point where marriage is such a big deal and I think you’re right that most people view at as a monogomous and non-negotiable commitment. When I asked for clarification, my friend referenced grinder, gay bars, and how guys are always looking to hook up. Perhaps there is a more open view on dating, casual sex, etc in the gay male community, idk. But I am not comfortable with how my earlier post may have implied that gay marriage is not as much of a commitment as other types. It’s always good to be challenged on stuff like that so thank you for your comments.

              • Yeah, LGBT’s have singles bars and one-night stands as much as heterosexuals, I’m sure, but I just never heard or thought that any particular group was more interested in open relationships, but I know what you menat and where you were coming from.

                • I have no clue how gay marriages are, and am not in any way, shape or form an expert om homosexuals lives (being solidly heterosexual myself), but what I’ve seen from surveys and statistics indicates that promiscuity and one-nighters are far, far more common among gay males than it is among heterosexuals. I don’t remember the figures but the number of sex-partners that the average male gay had had was astounding.
                  I’m not staking my life on these data being correct, but that’s what I’ve got. And based on that, it does make double sense that James’ bombing out.

  8. I respectfully disagree with much of the conversation surrounding James. In the past James was just like Barney, but that is in the past, even for the show. The first time we meet James, he is passing on shots, not having sex in the bathroom, telling Barney he doesn’t want anyone’s number in his phone. He is ready to settle down with Tom and have a family.

    This gets reinforced in season 7 in The Rebound Girl, when we see Sadie (Hurricane). Though the actor who plays Tom is different, James has a great talk with Ted about waiting to start a family with the right person.

    In my opinion there is nothing that we’ve seen in James’ interaction with the group that would suggest his cheating now, only flashbacks and the gang talking about his past.

    • Yes, he was recently engaged to Tom, ready for the comittment and to settle down. Doesn’t mean married life didn’t get to him as the years passed. He thought he was ready, and therefore was doing the right thing. But he was still new to this. And just because we got a few happy cameos doesn’t mean their marriage suddenly fell apart recently. They probably had problems for years and just acted happy on special occasions, like Thanksgiving. Not all couples wear it on their sleeve that they’re having issues. Some are very good at faking it. Perhaps they even adopted Sadie as a way to save their marriage? Its a very bad idea, but many couples do it.

      • Yeah, I don’t see James’ cheating — in and of itself — as out of character for him. People often want disparate things, or sometimes want to want disparate things. E.G., James could “want” to be married, settled down, etc., but not be able to really feel that desire after doing so, leaving him “wanting to want” to settle down, but cheating nonetheless.

        Alternatively, maybe for JAMES, everything was going fine and he WAS happy with his marriage — on his terms. But the problem was, it wasn’t on Tom’s terms, so Tom called it off.

        Also, side note: the show has already botched — or at least failed to explain — Barney telling his “nephew” (implied to be James’ son) how to live in 20-something years (in S2E10, “Single Stamina”)…yet later showing the child to be Sadie. Same kid? Different kid? Different kid from a different marriage? No clue.

        As for Stuart and Claudia, I never really bought their relationship. They were always deeply dysfunctional people, even in sitcom-land. Having them get divorced…fits to me, and I don’t really care.

  9. I also want to state, I was a little upset the writers ‘hinted’ Stuart was cheating. Even though, Stuart and Claudie are always fighting I enjoy their relationship. I’m always rooting for them.

    • yeah especially since they have a kid together.

      But honestly, Stuart cheating is a clear violation of the reacher/settler dynamic. According to Barney, Claudia is out of Stuart’s league, so he must be the reacher. Now Claudia’s a looker, but is it possible that Stuart can do better personality wise?

    • I was really hoping that was their daughter in the shower and not Claudia :( Logistically I’m not even sure how Stuart could pull off having another woman in his hotel room, unless he and Claudia paid for separate rooms, in which case she’s probably moved on? I didn’t like the implication.

      • I meant to say their daughter in the shower and not a woman he was cheating with.

      • Well, I do hope they did throw us a red herring and that it’s something innocent, maybe even a male friend just borrowing the shower to clean up after fixing Stuart’s car or something like that.
        Stuart and Claudia go back to the very first wedding in season 1 and I really would be disappointed if they turn out to be divorcing in the last season.
        Unless of course, Claudia turns out to be the SK and she’d dispatching Stuart. That I could live with.

        • wouldn’t it be awesome if that was the mother, who Stuart and Claudia met somehow and for some reason needed to borrow the shower?! :D

        • I have a whole theory that bad weddings = good marriages in the world of HIMYM. The only wedding that seemed to go pretty well was that of James and Tom, and now they’re dead in the water, relationship wise. Lily and Marshall had a disaster filled wedding, but their marriage is amazing. Claudia and Stuart are kinda in the middle of all that though so I don’t know how to peg them. They did have several mishaps so ultimately I’m hoping that their marriage is good.

          Why? Because if they have a bad wedding but a good marriage, then the pattern holds true, and that bodes well for Barney and Robin.


  10. Haven’t had a chance to read the reivew or the other comments yet, and probably won’t have until the weekend. But after just having seen the episode, I kind of enjoyed it.
    Anyone noticed the slutty pumpkin in the background? Was it Katie Holmes, and how does that fit into the timeline? As I understood it, that Halloween party was before they rejoined, or have i got it wrong?
    New interesting SK hypothesis, might it be Barney’s mother? Maybe in cooperation with the brother, or with Tim Gunn.

  11. After having read the review I’m almost ashamed for having enjoyed the episode. But I do think it was better than the last. I think what I disliked most about it actually is that Marshall feels disconnected from the rest, he needs to arrive.
    And I can’t figure out the timeline that gets the slutty pumpkin to fit in.
    As far as the bluffing goes, well, Barney, Loretta and James might well all be skilled liers and deceivers but that does not necessarily mean that they are skilled poker players. The “bluff” tell was a bit over the top, and too unrealistic, but that they should have a tell in poker seems not unreasonable. And the vice versa, that Robin normally giggles when she lies does not necessarily implicate that she can’t keep a straight face during a poker game. Her giggling and high-pitched voice are clearly related to embarrassment when she lies (and seem to be connected to intimacy). But bluffing in poker is another cattle of fish, it’s part of the game and according to the rules of the game. So it’s a completely different type of lying.

    Regarding the quality of the show, well, might be interesting to note who wrote the episodes:
    ep 1 The Locket – Carter Bays & Craig Thomas
    ep 2 Coming Back – Carter Bays & Craig Thomas
    (ep 1 and ep 2 was the opening double and was well received if I’m not mistaken)
    ep 3 Last Time in New York – Craig Gerard & Matthew Zinman
    ep 4 The Broken Code – Matthew Kuhn
    ep 5 The Poker Game – Dan Gregor & Doug Mand

    In the coming episodes it will be
    ep 6 Knight Vision – Chris Harris
    ep 7 No Questions Asked – Stephen Lloyd

    and I’m frankly quite concerned about the variety of writers. It does not bode well. I hope we see CB&CT returning as writers soon, and that they will be heavily involved in the writing of coming episodes. As far as I can tell, all episodes written by them have been good.
    And I trust they can handle the Serial Killer issue competently.

    • Solo and I had that debate and not all Producer written episodes passed the smell test. Usually they have a significant moment but for me some of those episodes kinda smelled.

      • Yeah, not all CB/CT episodes are gold. Matt Kuhn has had some terrific episodes, too, as I recall, and I quite liked Last Time in New York. I even somewhat enjoyed The Broken Code. This week’s episode was a bit “meh” though, but I’ll post my review a little later.

    • Dolf, i agree, I was slightly embarrassed about having liked the episode after having read the reviews. But I am glad I watched it before having read the reviews.

      My only problem was with James.

      • Hey now, nobody should feel embarrassed for liking the episode. Even at its worst, HIMYM is always chuckle-worthy and features some fun little bits to enjoy.

        I know we nitpick and criticize quite a bit here, but it’s usually because HIMYM can be SO much better than just “ha-ha-funny” like the average sitcom. It has an established history and continuity, it has heart, and it SHOULD have a point. This episode, while funny and enjoyable on that level, lacked those three things (mostly). That’s why people were disappointed, I think.

        • That and the Mother. They gave us a good teaser and now without more it feels like a cast member is missing.

        • I feel really, really bad that I might have influenced someone to feel bad about enjoying the show!

          You should never feel bad about that, no matter what! I like so many ridiculously crappy books, movies, shows, etc and I have no shame. I think there’s really something to be said for finding joy in the little things, and if you loved that episode I say good for you, sincerely. I don’t want to ruin that for anyone.

          • you don’t need to feel bad about it. The operative word is “almost” and, anyway, truth be told, the shame would not be for the enjoyment, but for missing your analysis points. The question is if just forgot to switch on my brain or if I should put in a claim for a replacement one due to the current one being having serious manufacturing flaws.

          • Corina, you have to tell the truth. If the Episode did not fit your expectations of a good HIMYM story then stay true to your feelings. Solo and I do not always agree on how an episode turns out but we try to agree to enjoy the parts of every episode that we can. You did a great Job and we all enjoyed reading what you typed.

  12. Aaand here’s my second review. I’ll start this off by saying “Don’t give up hope just yet.” I’ll explain why I say that later in the review. Let’s get to it.

    What Was Good

    For starters, Robin toying with the audience on the ring issue. It’s clear to me that, based on that bit, the writers know about the whole “But the flash forwards where she has no ring…” thing and are just messing with the audience. I’m also curious as to whether this will eventually be used to resolve a longer-standing question about Robin not wearing a ring, but I’ll get to that in a bit.

    I liked the use of flashbacks to help get us out of the rather claustrophobic environment of the Farhampton Inn, too, and enjoyed the resolution to the gift/note “war.” To some extent, I liked the callbacks, too, like Marshall’s hair starting to grow back in after the wedding, and the reappearance of Stuart and Claudia.

    What Was Not As Good

    Honestly…quite a bit this episode. First, this episode is one where the humor seemed quite forced in many respects. It’s still funny, as the show always is, but it just seemed a little over the top to me. Second, the specific elements, taken individually, never quite pulled together.

    The gift/note war seemed stupid, since why wouldn’t Ted and Marshall just resolve this with a discussion? They’ve been pretty communicative with each other over the years, and I can only conclude that neither REALLY cared that much about this, which means that this whole plotline was just an excuse to manufacture tension, which in turn robs it of its comedic element. This bit also introduced some really stupid timeline inconsistencies like the Halloween costume debates. Although, in fairness, I suppose they might’ve done different costumes at different parties or something. Still…lame. Don’t go messing with the timeline unless you’re prepared to explain away how you messed with it. A simply “Wait. I’m mixing that up. It was TWO years after blah blah blah” from Future Ted would help, but still.

    The poker game itself was only mildly amusing. I get why Robin would want to prove a point to James, but why not just give the damn ring and shirt back?! Why turn it into a big thing and pit Barney against his family? Why not just have Robin say, “James, look, I know you’re pissed about marriage, but could you just stop crapping on marriage in general AT MY WEDDING? Thanks, bro.” Again this seemed like an excuse to do over-the-top humor and to engineer new “drama” between Robin and Loretta, which will likely be resolved in the next episode or two. And what the hell was up with the “I’ll win the war” thing? Jesus, Loretta has been on board for this wedding for ages, and only NOW we’re seeing this tension pop up where it’s “Choose between your family or your trollop of a bride” crap? It’s just a lame way of stirring the pot.

    Further Thoughts

    In retrospect, this episode really was pretty weak. The weakest of the season, thus far, actually. It’s our 5th episode, too, at least by the official count. And at this point, the Farhampton Inn is getting boring. I really don’t see how they can keep this pace up for the rest of the season, without having tons of people tune out, particularly when the Mother hasn’t been in the show since Episode 2. The episode is, in my opinion, the show at its worst. Nothing important (apparently) happens, the jokes are ha-ha-sticom-funny jokes, but aren’t really NATURALLY funny as much as they are funny because of the exaggerated BS, and it’s REALLY feeling like the show is dragging plot-wise.

    The one interesting thing that came out of this, in my opinion, was the ring thing. Robin bets her ring, and James bets his. I suspect that the whole “It’s just a ring” thing will come back to impact Robin down the road. What matters isn’t the trinket itself, but the relationship the trinket stands for. Same deal with the wedding, for that matter. The bumps in the road, the trinkets, etc. are all unimportant in comparison to the relationship ITSELF. So, maybe Robin will decide that she’ll forego wearing her ring or something.

    Anyway, back to the whole seasonal structure. I said I’d address this, and I meant it. I know this episode was pretty weak overall, at least in terms of signaling where things are going. Frankly, I’m not surprised that it was weak. The show has a history of starting of terrifically and then having an early-season slump for a few episodes. Also, week-to-week, the show is OFTEN not as good, but when viewed as a larger story (e.g. binge-watched), it holds together better. So, frankly, I was prepared for a lame early outing for the show. I knew we’d get a bunch of episodes of wheel spinning and boring wedding hijinks, particularly based on the originally stated plan for the season taking place ENTIRELY at the wedding, which was later “clarified” to include lots of flashbacks and flashes forward (albeit so far with fairly unimportant ones, aside from Ted and the Mother one year later).

    My point here is simple: don’t give up hope yet. I think what we’re seeing is the result of the early plan which was later shifted. There’ll still be wedding hijinks all season, but I expect we’ll see some time jumps, more flashes back/forward, and of course, more of the Mother. I think we’ll have to get through, oh, one or two more episodes of entirely pointless stuff before we start getting to more important episodes to Ted’s story.

    I certainly hope so, anyway, because right now this episode seemed like an only somewhat more important episode than the Bromitzvah from last season, which is possibly one of my least favorite episodes in the entire run of the show. I know the show can do better. I expect it will. But there are always filler episodes, and they almost always happen in a particularly noticeable fashion after a dynamite opener and a solid followup or two. So hang in there, and let’s hope we get better stuff in the next few episodes.

    • I didn’t catch the ring thing at all and I’m so glad that you did! I’ve noticed that you’re better at seeing the seasonal arcs than I am, so I really appreciate seeing what you have to say about each episode.

      Here’s an additional thought regarding the ring – perhaps Robin not being attached to a trinket will be essential to the issue with the locket. Robin can tell Barney, it’s just a ring, what’s important to me is you. This then means that the locket – which has deep personal significance, but not as much as an actual wedding ring (I don’t think) is not going to as important to her as Ted thinks it is. Or at least that will help Barney – and maybe Robin – realize where her priorities truly lie.

      As for the Halloween thing…it TECHNICALLY makes sense, but it wasn’t handled well. They made it seem like it was Halloween 2007, after Lily and Marshall got married earlier that year. But it had to be 2008. Not just because they already had established Star Wars robot costumes for 07, but also because Lily was (and Marshall was supposed to be) dressed as a character from Juno. That didn’t even come out until December of 07, so it’s highly unlikely that they dressed up like a movie that was barely in previews at that point.

      But why didn’t they just label it “over a year later” or “a year and a half later”? Instead they left it confusing and it could have been so easily resolved. I didn’t mind the legwork because I’ve been kinda obsessed with their costumes for a long time now. But any normal person viewing would immediately recognize that it doesn’t make sense and it could have been easily fixed. So thumbs down to that.

      Anyway, glad to see you back and reviewing. Thanks for the excellent points per usual!

  13. Ring UP from last season. Robin does not like the effect of wearing a wedding band or ring. She likes the attention without the ring. If Barney was okay with Quinn taking shots from Robin’s Boy Toy “Barney’s on Board” then this is okay with me.

    The Mother has got to come back in play soon. AND if that is going to be the game this season so be it. IN THE FUTURE we can always fast forward through season 9 and hit the mother highlighted parts of episodes and skip the rest.

    NOT LIKE I have DVDs marked up already and Episodes of I tunes not even downloaded.

    The Mother is just around the corner again. Go re-watch S9 E1 and E2. go here for more Mother Photos

    Corina can list all the mother Episodes of each season for you.

    and Solo here is the Marshall trip: The distance between St Cloud and New York City in a straight line is 1069 miles or 1720.02 Kilometers.

  14. I feel like they save the best episodes for the weeks where there is going to be a 2 or more week break between new episodes. When they have back to back to back new ones they probably feel like they can afford to throw in some filler since there will be a new show the following week. This is probably why it consistently seems like the best shows come later in the season and around the holidays.

  15. Am I the only one who thought that the whole idea of throwing in the slutty pumpkin again was just to show that she had always been around the corner but never was the one? Ted could have met her back than, but he didn’t and even later it didn’t work out between them. To me it felt like the authours were bringing attention to the fact that Ted liked the idea more than the girl.
    Or I completely misunderstood the timeline, haha)))

    • No, that was definitely the point. In fact, that was the point in The Slutty Pumpkin Returns (which was originally titled “Perfect on Paper”). It was all about how Ted had IMAGINED how perfect this girl was, only to discover that something was just….off and they weren’t right for each other.


  16. I guess I stated the obvious but I was just surprised no one pointed that out. Too much sarcasm never hurts)

  17. Ok I may be totally out there, but I’ve been doing some thinking about why bringing back Gazzolas bothered me so much and I’ve come up with two larger issues. But to start, the Gazzolas road trips were Ted and Marshall’s thing and then Lily got added which bothered Ted. Now we have Marshall trying to get an almost complete stranger to go? That’s not cool Marshall. I still think in this day and age it is ok to have something that is just for you and a best friend. And c’mon, Tantrum was the best part of the original episode, bring that back at least.

    The larger things that came up when I was thinking about it:

    1. They aren’t afraid to bring back any trope or joke or concept if they felt it worked. In an interview early on, one of the creators said they really wished they hadn’t written themselves in a corner regarding where the pineapple came from, and it seems that from then on, nothing is done, even if we think it is.

    For example, Trudy from the pineapple incident. Ted says he calls her but when she reappears he said he always meant to call her.

    Coat check girl coming back, the playbook not being destroyed, the ducky tie, and Robin Sparkles, yes Robin Sparkles.

    The Robin Sparkles story changes each time, she was a one hit wonder whose second song bombed, except later it was said to have gone maple and everyone seems to know all the words to all her songs, even the one from the “failed kids TV show.”

    2. The Gazzolas thing seems to be boundary breaking, which at least to me, upon further reflection, has been a major theme for the last several seasons. Breaking the Bro Code, Marshall and Lily keeping stuff from each other, Ted and Barney keeping stuff from each other. Will Victoria really be right in the end about that?

    • Some of the stepping on their own backstory thing is less of a big deal to me if it’s minor stuff that Future Ted might have just mixed up.

      The Robin Sparkles thing I don’t recall her being a one-hit wonder. But we also have to bear in mind that Robin would have lied about her success if only to prevent further embarrassing videos from being discovered. Yet each time, we discover she was, in fact, a success, and on the story goes. So that one I’m ok with.

      The Gazzolas pizza thing in and of itself didn’t bother me since, I think, in the episode it was less about “This is OUR thing” and more about “we don’t do stuff just us together anymore.” Gazzolas was just the vehicle by which that happened, and anyway, it still kinda stayed as a Ted/Marshall thing with the pizza delivery.

      What bugged me about the Gazzolas thing was Marshall’s slip back into the annoying eloquent voice describing the food which harkens back to Best Burger in New York, and that, I think, gets more to the core of what you’re talking about.

      Callbacks and fan service can be fun, but it needs to be done right and very delicately. Right now, for the last few episodes, and it seems for large parts of the season, the show is kinda coasting on “Hey gang! Remember this?!” jokes. And yeah, it’s funny and cool when done right (e.g. Marshall’s hair growing back in after the wedding). But when it’s really obvious and in your face, like a cameo for no reason or a really obvious call back like Marshall’s reverie on the pizza, it’s just….cheap. It’s too easy. It’s resting on your laurels and trotting out somethign that worked before rather than doing something new.

      And here’s why it bugs me. The opening two episodes of this season introduced several new characters that struck me as decent people to have show up periodically. The front desk clerk, Daphne, Linus, and especially THE MOTHER, all seemed kinda interesting. Instead, we’re getting cameo after cameo after cameo, and it’s coming across like, well, sequelitis. That phenomenon in films where they go BIGGER but not better, and where they recycle old stuff rather than invent new stuff or adapt new stuff to old approaches.

      So, while I love Tim Gunn and Billy Zabka appearing at the poker game along with Ranjiit, I’m also thinking “wait — these guys will be at the entire wedding?” You can’t add characters like this and then NOT use them, and if you overuse them, the show loses focus. I think this is part of the problem with the “bottle story” of the wedding itself. Everyone’s stuck in this enclosed series of events, at a specific physical location, and we just keep stuffing more and more characters into the bottle. It’s gonna get crowded and noisy in there FAST unless the show can regain some focus.

  18. Juno is partially set in Saint Cloud, MN. Marshall and Lily reppin’ Marshall’s hometown is a really cute touch by the writers.

  • The Mother