Recap: How I Met Your Mother

This recap will be full of spoilers, so if you haven’t seen it, don’t click ‘Get the whole scoop.’  Even if you enjoy spoilers in general, this episode needs to be experienced with the actors, especially Alyson Hannigan and Jason Segel, who I finally trust enough to write for my beloved Muppets. After last night’s episode, I’m an unconditional Segel fan for life.

Now that the peeps who haven’t seen it aren’t reading, HOLY SHIT.  As this article in Pajiba says better than I can, Scrubs has always been the master of creating something fluffy and light and then setting a flamethrower of reality to it, ripping the rug out from under the audience at the last minute.   (P.S.  I dare you to watch all the clips in that post.  I’ll be here with cocoa, a teddy bear and a warm hug when you’re done.)  HIMYM has been able to pull off touching fairly regularly, but last night they went full “GIVE MY DAUGHTER THE SHOT.”  (That’s a Terms of Endearment reference, for the Youngs.)

I went into the show prepared to be emotional, the brief description on the Tivo mentioned Lily and Marshall were struggling with getting pregnant.  As an Infertile, these stories are always hard to watch.  I was bracing myself to mourn with Lily or with Marshall or both about fertility loss, and the whole tone of the episode was building to something big and fitting with the title “Bad News.”   Then the show punched me in the gut.

The story opens with Marshall and Lily in the doctor’s office, after a brief set up where they were panicking six days into their reproductive efforts.  Months later, when Lily still isn’t pregnant, their doc sends them to a specialist, who turns out to be Barney’s elusive doppleganger.  Lily is convinced it’s actually Barney for a few scenes, and there’s some humor.

Meanwhile, Robin has started her new job at the big news company.  Her least favorite co-host of all time, Sandy Rivers,  is the anchor, and he sets out to make her life miserable.  He starts by saying he and Robin slept together, and goes on to expose all of her most embarrassing onscreen moments, including her complete Robin Sparkles videography.

Lily finds out she’s extremely fertile, and as Marshall goes to call his dad -it’s established Marshall tells his dad everything – but realizes before dialing that Lily’s results mean the problem must be with him.  He puts down the phone, and we see Mr. Erikson happily working in his shop, tools and Old Number 36 beer on the workbench.

After Robin shares the details of her second horrible day on the new job at McClaren’s, Marshall’s phone rings.  It’s his dad, but Marshall wants to get his stuff checked out before he talks to him, so he ignores the call.  There’s an adorable montage of Marshall sharing all the various wonderful events in his life with his dad, who gets twice as excited as human muppet Marshall.  He only likes to call his dad with good news, b/c telling his dad is what makes it feel real.  (Shit the bed, on rewatch this show kills even more of my insides.)

Marshall is at doctor dopplebarney’s and is given a cup to fill.  He chokes at the office and asks to be allowed to go home and take care of business where he’s comfortable.   He darts home on a deadline, as the doc is headed out of time, and finds both his parents at home with Lily.

The following scene of Marshall in the bathroom trying to make the magic happen while his parents yell at him through the bathroom door is one of those really uncomfortable, totally inappropriate comedy moments I normally don’t appreciate, but I laughed all the way through the commercial break.

Eventually Lily spills the beans, as Marshall is unable to, and there’s a nice scene with Marshall and his parents when they tell him they don’t care one way or another if he can father a baby.

Ted, in a moment of Ted like chivalry, goes to kick Sandy Rivers’ ass.  Instead, he catches a picture of Sandy without his toupe and with a bear in a bra.  (Apparently Sandy is very open about the latter.)  Robin goes to expose his poor uncovered pate on her fourth horrible day of work, but thinks again and decides to own it.  Including wearing her denim Robin Sparkles jacket.  I’ve always liked Robin, and I think Cobie Smulders is as hilarious as NPH.

Back at Doctor Dopplebarney’s, Marshall is told he doesn’t have the sperm count to impregnate Lily, and he’s crushed.  Turns out, it’s Barney dressed as Doctor Dopplebarney.  The real doc comes in and tells Marshall he’s fine.  By now most watchers have noticed the odd placement of random numbers counting down on various props.  It was right about the time I saw the number on the file folder in the doctors office that I figured out what was going to happen.  This requires a baby animal break.

Small brown bear cub reaches for a cream colored teddy bear with arms outstretched.
You've been warned.

At the bar, Marshall heads out the door to call his dad, who doesn’t answer.   Lily pulls up in a cab and he hugs her, ecstatic.  Lily tells him his dad had a heart attack, and that he didn’t make it.   Marshall says “I’m not ready for this.”  It’s a perfect, horrible, real moment.

I lost my mom in August.  I went into the show expecting to cry about babies and the unfairness of fertility, I came out weeping with Marshall and missing the hell out of my mom.   Well played, HIMYM writers, you bastards.

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[E] Selena MacIntosh*

Selena MacIntosh is the owner and editor of Persephone Magazine. She also fixes it when it breaks. She is fueled by Diet Coke, coffee with a lot of cream in it, and cat hair.

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