No show has been able to balance together comedy and tragedy quite like “How I Met Your Mother” over the years — at one point we’re laughing, but then we are pretty much on the verge of tears just minutes later. With this in mind, we have to say that Monday night’s episode was something beautiful, something sad, and a notable standout from the series as a whole.
When it comes to Barney, there was perhaps no storyline that managed to be quite as sad. We have a mind hiding behind his own insecurity and turning himself into this over-the-top figure — one that brags about going home with women, but who ends up spending his nights watching them dance at a club. While we laughed at his interactions with Becki Newton’s well-crafted new character of Quinn, the revelation that she was actually a dancer in this club taking notes on Barney made the whole situation more than a little awkward — we want to be happy for him, but at the same time we don’t know what exactly she is trying to get out of him. Does she genuinely like him, or playing him for a great purpose?
With Robin, this episode also touched on what happens when someone is forced in making a life-altering decision in an uncomfortable situation — in this case, while at a retreat with Marshall and Lily, who were trying to brag about their relationship in the midst of spontaneously fighting with each other over the very points to hand over as advice for long-term relationships. In sending away Kal Penn’s Kevin, Robin is now without a foil who embraces her quirks without too many flaws of his own — but the fact that Ted is now confessing his lingering feelings for her means that she is not going to be away from relationship drama for very long. While we don’t expect Ted / Robin 2.0 to last for week, we deeply admire the producers here for creating a character in Kevin who did not leave just because he was a jerk.
Eight seasons in, it’s pretty rare that we see a show that actually manages to develop its characters in a real way without just playing up stereotypes or completely re-hashing themes from the past. Even with Ted and Robin revisiting their past relationship, they are doing so from a new perspective. With Barney, meanwhile, this episode provided us with both belly laughs about Quinn and his inability to find love aboard a “drunk train” — but it also made us realize just what kind of guy he really is in the midst of his stories and pick-up lines.
Do you prefer “HIMYM” when it is all laughs, or when there is something more dramatic at play?