“As Fast as She Can”
May 11th, 2009
After “Right Place Right Time” was sold as a rather ‘epic’ episode in the grand scheme of things, evoking the titular story while providing one of those stories that separates itself amongst the various characters, “As Fast As She Can” was perhaps necessarily slower and less eventful. While it doesn’t directly connect the dots as to how these events relate to Ted’s discovery of the future mother of his children, it does provide events that feel like they put Ted into a particular location where those events could take place.
I just wish that it could have been a stronger episode overall: whereas last week was ostensibly about Ted but realistically more about Robin, Marshall and Barney, this week’s episode was primarily Ted and more Ted, and that’s problematic. I don’t mean to rag on poor Josh Radnor, who really wasn’t bad in thise episode in terms of acting like a total tool, but the character just isn’t that funny, and since we’ve already established Stella (Sarah Chalke) as a black hole of comedy it meant that the drama and the comedy were isolated within the episode.
So while I’m still excited for the finale, this didn’t do anything to build any momentum and, in actuality, probably slowed things down a bit too much.
The arrival of Stella wasn’t a huge shock, as a knew she was coming back, but this didn’t get any less predictable as it went along: everyone and their mother knew that Stella couldn’t be the Mother, and the show quite cheekily acknowledged that with Mrs. Patson jumping out her door in the hallway as if they were reconciling when that simply wasn’t going to happen. Instead, this was about Ted gaining some closure on what was a tough period in his life, and getting him to the point where he admits to himself that the romantic side of him that he thinks died when Stella left him still exists, and still wants to find “the one” just as Stella did.
That final moment in the car with Stella was both really effective and necessary: while Ted often seems to be living in his own world with these kinds of things, it’s hard not to empathize with Ted when he mentions how he wants to have what Marshall and Lily have. That’s the relationship that the show has held up as this charming romantic standard, and it’s natural (and not selfish) for Ted to feel jealous and covet the closeness that they share with one another. This is one show that works better when the drama and comedy are not mutually exclusive, so I wish that Stella was capable of being funny (even the joke that got her out of a speeding ticket was just downright lame) so that this could have hit a bit harder. Still, on an emotional level, it worked.
I don’t know how I feel about Jason Jones’ Tony being prominently featured: on the one hand I thought that his various scenarios led to some fun moments, especially Ted, Robin and Marshall’s reactions to Ted potentially designing a murder house (the jokes weren’t that funny themselves, but the reactions totally elevated them). On the other hand, the character also isn’t that funny, and it felt like a reason to delay the inevitable Stella and Ted conversation that could have just happened at the beginning of the episode or saved until later and opened some room for some more material elsewhere. Plus, Ted turning down the teaching gig, especially, was just plain ridiculous, and in an episode where I had to empathize with Ted turning him into a short-sighted dreamer with no grip on reality wasn’t helpful with that.
My biggest disappointment with the episode was that the end of last week’s episode, where Barney indicated that his next logical step was to pursue Robin, was entirely ignored. In some ways, I understand this: Lily was gone (until the end of the episode, due to Alyson’s pregnancy), and since she has been his trusted confidante in the issue perhaps it wouldn’t have worked for them to play that card this early. However, unfortunately, Barney’s storyline wasn’t worth the delay: not only did it disturb HIMYM continuity (Barney didn’t know how to drive last I checked, or own a car), but it never really hit a joke that worked really well or felt particularly original (Robin’s was particularly derivative, although Marshall’s was kind of charming).
The only thing that consistently worked for me in the rest of the storylines was Robin, who was just on fire. She got to be one of the guys, and in most ways better than Barney and Marshall. Sure, they all dropped some decent one-liners in the jokes about how big a cheque would be, but Robin’s just felt like they were hitting harder, and “so you manipulated an officer with your sausage” was just plain funny. On top of that, she was the centerpiece of my favourite moment in the episode, when we come back from commercial to find Ted and Stella in their big dramatic moment and there’s Robin, sitting on the couch, interrupting their moment to demand that Ted “bump this” for convincing Tony to break up with Stella. It was unexpected, hilarious, and I wish there was more of it in the episode.
All we really got here was to set Ted up to fall in love again and, in a more subtle turn, setting up future interactions with Tony and Stella, as it appears that The Wedding Bride, his hit Hollywood film that looks oddly like it may tell the story of Stella’s non-wedding with Ted, releases in May 2010. That’s one more thing to look forward to (and our only thing after the goat is dealt with next week) in terms of the show’s grasp for continuity, and that’s at least something to go by. In the end, definitely just a setup episode for the finale, which apparently went out to critics today so you can look forward to some horrible teases on people’s twitter feeds this week.
- I enjoyed Tony’s observation that Ted was like a Daschund with a bad back that has to wheel itself around – it seems like a good description of Ted at his most puppy dog-esque, even if he didn’t actually get to that point in the episode at the end of the day.
- Considering that “professor” is on a short list of potential career paths, I hope that I fulfill Marshall’s requirements: talk well, be knowledgeable, and be capable of growing a handsome neck beard. Damnit, only two out of three!
- Barney being in jail was funny, but I really wish they’d save storylines like that for entire episodes as opposed to throwaway gags: Barney being freaked out by teenage spraypainters was something that could have been played a lot more, in my books.