April 28th, 2008
A true sign of a show’s commitment to continuity is when they flash forward to the future during an early episode, and then when they reach said moment in time (If this is a show that pays attention to time) they actually deliver on this moment. Needless to say, there are not many shows with the same commitment as How I Met Your Mother in this area, and so it is not too surprising that they live up to their promise: having reached the story of Ted’s 30th Birthday, it is time for the goat…maybe.
Of course, after last week’s episode left us on Barney and Robin about to hook up, are we really thinking about the goat? The aftershocks of the events of last week are perfect because they affect most the character who is usually so inscrutable: within seconds of returning to McLaren’s, Barney is assaulted with reminders left, right and centre of his deed. Sleeping with his best friend’s ex-girlfriend is something that Barney has never quite done, even considering how much he’s done.
It’s even more delightful that Robin is (on the surface) far less affected by it, as Barney is a nervous wreck by comparison; actually, you don’t even need the comparison to know that Barney is destroying himself inside and out. This takes the form, most directly, Barney scrambling a legal defense against the Bro Code.
What is the Bro Code, you ask? Why, it was a legal document written in 1776 in Philadelphia by Barnibus Stinson, contemporary of Benjamin Franklin and George Washington, while they were having a drink. And, yes, it’s delightful.
Barney sleeping with Robin breaks the Bro Code, a sacred document that Barney quotes often:
- Article 1 – Bros before Hoes.
- Article 89 – Mom of a Bro is always off limits, but a Stepmom is fair game if she initiates it or is wearing leopard print.
- Article 34 – Bros cannot make eye contact during a Devil’s Threeway (Two Dudes).
- Article 87 – A Bro should at all times say yes.
- Article 29 – A Bro will, in a timely manner, alert his Bro of a girl fight.
- Article 53 – A Bro will, whenever possible, provide his Bro with “protection.”
This creates one of the episode’s best constructs, bringing together Barney with Marshall – it’s a combination that creates great comedy, and is perhaps my favourite pairing for sheer humour in the series. Barney’s secret transfers to the show’s most nervous character, and the result is extremely engaging television. It’s a great return to their Slap Bet dynamic, and whatever it is that these two do it just plain works.
But this is really not wholly Barney’s episode: his struggle to prove that his actions do not break the Bro Code in an irreconcilable fashion is admirable and broad, but Robin’s much more internal struggle is the other side of the coin. It makes Barney seem more normal, that he in a moment like this is even more wrapped with his own form of guilt.
Ted’s reaction is similarly nuanced: he starts off appearing all supporting as Robin does, but then within moments he’s tearing into Barney for being incapable of finding another catch. Their catfight (With commentary by Ranjit!) is a charming turn, and Ted is right: this isn’t just about Robin. There was always a sense that there was a limit, but now most certainly he has reached the limit: Ted decides that he no longer has any use for Barney.
Yep – it’s a brobreakup. Ted doesn’t think they can be friends anymore. It’s a heartbreaking moment, mainly because Barney is actually sorry – he didn’t just consider Robin a conquest, but rather knew what he had done and despite searching for a loophole still knew it was wrong. It was a Barney that we like, which makes it all that much more tragic that we end on Ted moving on with his life independent of one of his closest friends (Oops, sorry Barney: his BEST friend).
It was a poignant half hour on that front, so one wonders how a goat figures into all of this. Lily buys the goat to save it from being killed, he brings it home, Robin discusses how it clearly wasn’t Musk Ox turds, and then it’s on the roof…but then it’s not actually IN their bathroom until Ted’s 31st birthday. When, as we learn just as the episode fades out, Robin is living in the apartment. So, we’re going to have to wait another year for the story of the goat…but then I don’t get it, was the goat at this party the entire time? Or was Ted just placing the goat into his story out of memory? And will we get the same side of the story next year around this time, or no?
It was a confusing turnaround, but it does give us yet another mystery with which to test continuity in the future – and, considering recent ratings trends, that future seems pretty secure.
- This episode might just end up being Neil Patrick Harris’ emmy submission, although admittedly I think that it is not quite to the level of last year’s “Showdown.” Barney did something awful here, but NPH did a fantastic job of displaying his struggles even though he never quite got enough of a chance to show that sensitive moment or the truly engaging story. Still, I figure that considering the strike-shortened season, it’s definitely his best selection yet.
- Everyone’s view of their ideal 30th Birthday: Ted and Barney are the first to hit it, Marshall is going to hit it soon, Lily is going to go all out, all night and with a clown, and Robin will ignore the clown to be at Lily’s. I’m going to Lily’s too.
- Loved the flashback to 18th Century discussions if only for the so not funny they’re funny antiquated versions of modern Brodiscussions.
- Really enjoyed Lily’s curiosity about Robin sleeping with Barney, which just got more and more unfortunate and disturbing as it went along.
- Seriously, if we don’t get to hear the goat story CBS, I will cut you.