Well now. That was…unexpected. I’ll admit, it caught me off guard and I’m having to process it. Great episode, on the whole, but in terms of its place in the larger arc…yeah, having to sort through this one. So, bear with me.
What Was Good
I actually think this was one of the funnier episodes in recent memory. Not as good as last week’s, but in terms of the ha-ha funny, yeah, this was pretty good. The use of Mike Tyson was funny, too. Great cameo. I’m glad they didn’t make a joke about ears when he said the “I could just eat you up” bit to Marvin. That would’ve just been cheap. Although, show of hands, who here had that same thought? Right. Me too. Which is why we don’t write for top-rated sitcoms, I guess…but I digress. I also loved the use of the Boba Fett outfit and — anyone else catch this? — the return of one of the two crossed swords that Ted and Marshall had on the wall of the apartment. Oh, and the cuckoo clock bit was funny, too. Lastly, nice to see the kids — Marvin, too — again.
What Was Not As Good
While I liked the storyline with Robin, and appreciate her softening (and the potential that opens up — more on that in a second), I found the pacing of it and the gag of “X years later” to be a bit…hmm..weak? Disruptive? Something like that. I kept wanting to get back to the Ted bit, which seemed like the “A” story, but the use of the “B” story felt like it was interrupting, rather than playing into. I wonder if this is one of the episodes they rejiggered after the S9 announcement?
And a few other criticisms, some more niggling than others. First, Barney and Marshall felt…lame in this episode. I gotta say, I saw less good-natured ribbing in their behavior, and more smug “We’re not single, but you are” attitude. I’ll touch on that a bit more later. Also, interesting how they’ve played with future-everyone’s makeup. Remember when Lily 10 years later had put on weight and had bad hair, and Marshall was bald? Maybe she had work done… Robin we KNOW had work done. Mostly at Barney’s insistence, I’m sure. Anyway, lastly, Jeanette…Ok, she’s hot. Admittedly. But she fails the Vicky Mendoza Diagonal test. She is not SO hot that you’d expect a guy to put up with that level of crazy.
Which brings us to Ted, which….yeah, you know what? I’m just gonna skip ahead here. Get comfy. You know what, get a snack, THEN get comfy.
Sweet sassy molassy, Ted, what the bloody hell are you doing?!?! Well, actually, I think I get it. I’ll try to explain, because it took me a good bit of thinking and some Macallan 10 Year Fine Oak to figure it out. Here goes.
First, I know folks don’t like it and want to smack the crap out of Ted. That was my initial response, too. Ted. Tedward. Teddles. To paraphrase Frank Zappa, “Ted Mosby…honey…what’s got into ya?” Well, I think I know. Actually, I’ve got a few theories, and I’m not entirely sure how the show will play it. One’s a bit more goofy/funny/upbeat. The other is considerably darker. I can’t tell which is going on right now, or if there’s something else I’m missing.
So, Theory 1 goes as follows: Ted does enjoy dating. The intro to this week’s episode touches on this. It’s fun, and by now he’s fairly good at it, at least at the early stages. Casual dating poses no challenge and some reasonable upside of, you know, gettin’ some. So, you know, low risk, decent reward, what the hell, right? It’s just fun, and where’s the crime in that, right? He can always look for The Mother with the next girl, or while he’s killing time with whatever random chick he’s dating casually, right? Well, no, wrong. If you got for the easy, quick-fix, you’re distracted and NOT looking for what’s got more long-term potential. I think Ted’s forgotten that, and it will take him finally having an experience where the risk far exceeds the meager reward before he says “No more dating. I’m ready to get serious.” Sometimes, in the course of one’s dating experience, you need either a sufficiently BAD or a sufficiently unsatisfying experience in the “just fun” category before you say “Enough of this crap. Let’s get serious.”
Theory 2, though, brings the pain. See, I could see where Ted is in BAD shape right now. Not really showing it overtly (as he often doesn’t), but engaged in some seriously self-destructive behavior. Not at the level of “No Tomorrow,” though. Worse, actually. In “No Tomorrow,” he was at least enough of a dick in the course of one evening that he could look at himself and be ashamed. In this, I think it’s more sort of a slow creep that is gradually eating away at his sense of self confidence and even his own sense of identity.
See, I suspect Ted’s always viewed himself as “marriage material.” Except…he’s not married. Instead, he’s the last single member of his group. And meanwhile, his friends kind of look down on him. Robin and Barney are busy planning a wedding, Marshall and Lily are raising Marvin…and Ted’s just…single. I think there’s gotta be a degree to which he views this as massively unfair, as far far less than he deserves, and as a result, he’s just kind of giving up. Moreover, I think if Theory 2 is accurate, he’s…angry. Really REALLY angry. He’s not showing it because, let’s face it, aside from crying at movies (and lots of other stuff) Ted’s not a guy who usually lets out his “bad” feelings. He bottles that stuff up and it’s only when he’s pushed that he finally