February 2nd, 2009
I feel at this point that Bays and Thomas have conditioned us long term viewers on how to watch an episode of HIMYM: the second Barney announces that he has an online video resume, I’m in Firefox typing in the address and making a note that the site is, of course, real. If the show had a resume, it would include many of these types of moments, the little throwaway lines built into entertaining side projects or the quirky facts we learn show up on each person’s resumes emerging as quick flashbacks.
“The Possimpible” doesn’t try to be overly sentimental, or even overly ambitious: it just looks back on its past, makes a reel of the various ways the show has been charming in the past (most related to Barney) and then crafting an episode around them. It’s something that doesn’t always work for the show, sometimes feeling more like a pastiche of its better episodes, but this one really worked for me. Between the invented words, the humorous websites (Barney’s Video Resume and Ted’s Mysterious Dr. X Website), the continued tension between Barney and Robin and the clever and humorous way of working Alyson Hannigan’s pregnancy into the episode, this one earned a spot on the show’s resume.
Robin’s unemployment has always been something of a problem for the show in that there were really good reasons to keep it going and a whole bunch of logical reasons it couldn’t go on forever. Robin not having a job gave her time to become a Woo girl, time to sit around and eat ice cream, time to argue and have sex with Ted, and time to become quite a comic force on the show. But it couldn’t go on forever: Robin’s work visa would eventually expire, and to have a likeable character settle in unemployment would either have to become a commentary on the financial crisis (which seems a bit dour for HIMYM) or a forced way to keep a character in a specific position. So her needing a job is a good thing, and a storyline that gets some momentum here.
Really, the episode is never about Robin: instead, it’s about sending everyone else back to their resumes, back to their employment histories, and Barney back into both his awesome job skills and his pining after Robin modes. I love the mediation of these last two ideas: Barney isn’t doting after Robin or willing to treat her differently because she is in love with him, but instead shows more effort than he would in other situations while not losing what makes him, well, awesome. I loved Barney being so willing to propose to Robin, behind her back, before that idea was squashed, but his assistance in working with Robin on her video was wonderfully mediated by his meanness (not letting her use his word, telling her that this isn’t the 50s anymore, etc.). Barney is the best when he is showing his softer sides while still being his usual self, and that was done very well here.
As for the rest of it, the show was most clever in its use of Alyson Hannigan’s rapidly expanding stomach, creating the fantastic resume entry about hot dog eating. They film her from the chest up for the rest of the show, but to be able to let her show off her stomach as a result of hot dog-related bloating was incredibly charming, and even thought I knew about it ahead of time it played out extremely well. The same goes for Ted and Marshall: Marshall’s dancer’s hip was charming without going too far, but Ted’s Dr. X persona was so Ted, and so well executed. The entire episode came together well in that fashion, which is what we expect from the show.
It was just all really well executed: the show has moved past possible, expanded to the impossible, and has transcended to the place where they meet: where Barney sings his own theme song, interviews himself in a Scottish accent, and stands next to a horse. I love The Possimpible.
- This is like the shortest review I’ve written in a while, but it was a lot of fun: it’s just short because there really isn’t anything to complain about.
- The cold open was really quite fantastic, with Barney’s clever Lottery game proving a nice foreshadow to later in the episode while also remaining quite funny. Both HIMYM and The Office had cold opens that connected to the episodes, that rarely happens.
- Robin’s dangerously expanding signoff was quite funny, but I think Robin’s humour is better outside of her job; here’s hoping the new morning job brings some new depth to her profession.
- Red Deer, Alberta represent! I always love references to Canada, but these actually felt a bit tepid compared to some of the show’s past examples.
- Marshall as Vanilla Thunder? A great nickname, no question. But I do wish we had seen more of his dancing, and not just from behind the door. Maybe he has no rhythm: I wouldn’t be surprised.