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I admit I was a little surprised tonight to see a new How I Met Your Mother, since last week there was a re-run and I figured we were done for the season. I guess all is fair in love and writers’ strikes, though, so tonight we were treated to an episode that felt like a very, very well-structured clip show. Ted has decided he’s going to go on a date with doctor set to remove the tramp stamp he got in the first episode of the season-- one of those great continuity things I love about this show. Barney knows it’s a bad idea, and in an effort to tell Ted why, he lays out the platinum rule. Not familiar with the platinum rule? That’s where Barney Stinson comes in. It comes down to eight rules. So instead of doing five moments, we’re going to do eight. That’s right, it’s a Christmas miracle!
1. Attraction. It’s the first step to breaking Barney’s platinum rule, which is “Love your neighbor, but don’t love your neighbor.” You know attraction? Robin, Barney, Marshall and Lily do. Robin’s new sports anchor, Kurt “Iron Man” Irons, is cute! Marshall and Lily’s neighbors across the hall (one of whom is Mel from Flight of the Conchords!) are totally cool. And Barney definitely has the hots for Wendy the waitress at McLaren’s, and since he’s Barney, who is he to say no? It’s worth noting that this is the incident that started Barney’s rule to begin with, so we’re pretty sure this isn’t going to turn out well.
2. Denial. “He used to play hockey, and I’m Canadian.” “They’re really cool, and they’re right across the hall.” “She’s gullible, and I’m bored. We’re perfect for each other!” Yeah, you’ve heard those kinds of excuses before. And even though everyone tells Barney “Don’t kill the bar, dude,” by dating Wendy, he doesn’t listen. No one listens!
3. Submission. “I’ve got two tickets to the Rangers game.” “If we want to play charades, we go right across the hall.” “Can I get a gin and tonic?” I mean, if you’re not going to get free drinks when you sleep with the waitress, why do it?
4. Perks. That would be visits in the locker room with hockey players no one has ever heard of (“What’s the opposite of name dropping?” Barney asks Robin), going right across the hall, and hey! Free nachos!
It’s worth noting at this point that these flashbacks are all told nested within each other, with Marshall and Lily telling their story and Robin warning them based on past experience, then a flasbhack to Robin telling her story and Barney warning her on his past experience, and a flasbhack to Barney, with everyone warning him. Because, if you’re going to sleep with the waitress at your favorite bar, that’s a terrible idea, right? Anyway, the storytelling format is really clever, and a great example of how How I Met Your Mother takes an idea that could be lame and makes it original and funny.
5. The tipping point.Ironman the sports guy celebrates “one-weekiversary,” and you know how commitment-phobe Robin feels about that. The neighbors come over with chips and charades plans when Marshall and Lily are planning to go out (I mean, what is McLaren’s without them?) And Barney can’t exactly mack on other girls in the bar when Wendy the waitress is there, now can he? We see all four in a triple split screen saying to themselves “Oh, no.” 6. “Step six,” Barney tells Ted in the present, “Step six is purg... wait for it... wait for it some more... wait for it until you realize there’s no escape... atory.”. Basically, everyone realizes they don’t like their people anymore, and not only do they not like them, but they have to see them every day... forever. But Barney gets in a good line, about how he was once a king cat at picking up women at McLaren’s and now... “Put a bell around my neck and scratch my belly, kids, for I am just a docile house cat now. Meow.”
7: Confrontation. Robin tells Ironman she likes him, but... Lily and Marshall tell the neighbors, we like you, but... Barney tells Wendy the waitress, “I don’t like you. I like parts of you, but I want to see those parts on other girls. Other girls and you, if that’s what you want, but the other girls have to be there. That’s the important part.” Way to be tactful, Barney.
8. Fallout. Ironman blames the Knicks’ loss on his break-up... or something like that. Lily and Marshall are convinced the neighbors will be outside every time they leave the apartment, so they’re afraid to even let Ted in the door. And Barney, in the funniest scene, is convinced that everything Wendy gives him at the bar is poisoned, because she says “There’s no hard feelings,” and therefore she must be crazy. This is where Robin realizes there actually was no fallout from Barney’s break-up, and in typical Barney fashion, he figures everything is more important when it’s about him.
And that’s when we learn that there doesn’t have to be any fallout, in typical happy HIMYM way. Ted’s date turns out to be pretty uneventful, since doctors aren’t actually legally allowed to date their patients, which is a really anti-climactic conclusion to the episode. Still, it was a fun one, with the great story structure and, as always, some hilarious Barney lines. And in all of the flashbacks Lily’s hair was different, including her season season red hair. How’d they do that? Ah, another Christmas miracle.