How I Met Your Mother: The Platinum Rule
by Joel Keller, posted Dec 10th 2007 11:43PM
(S03E11) As a fan of How I Met Your Mother, I bet it's tough for you to explain to non-fans why the show is a bit different from other sitcoms, isn't it? You could tell those non-fans to watch an episode, but if that person runs into a standard-grade, linearly-told episode like some of what we've seen this season, he or she will just shrug their shoulders and go "So what? I have no idea what the big deal is."
So here's a piece of advice to my fellow HIMYM fans: mark this episode as "Save Until I Delete" on the TiVo, sit the next person who asks you about the show down, and show it to them. No, it's not the funniest episode of HIMYM ever. But it is a perfect example of how Bays and Thomas utilize time shifting to tell a story in a way that no one else on TV is doing right now.
I mean, how many sitcoms tell stories using related, four-level flashbacks that tie together both backwards and forwards? None. Bays and Thomas did a great job of showing each phase of Barney's "Platinum Rule" through the experiences of each member of the gang (with Lily and Marshall counting as one member). And as we dove into and back out of the past, segments were connected via common phrases like "God, I'm such an idiot," "That's what I thought," and "Well, I think it'll be OK." In one case, the segments were connected by the person who violated the rule banging his or her head on the table. You'd think it would be hard to keep track of, but somehow, the writers make it easy to follow (and not just via Lily's various hairstyles from 2005 to now).
Gallery: How I Met Your Mother
So the violations of the Platinum Rule: Ted tries to date the doctor who is lasering off his "tramp stamp;" Robin dates "The Ironman," who does sports on her station; Lily and Marshall do the unthinkable and befriend a new neighbor couple; and Barney decides to sleep with Wendy the McLaren's waitress. The last three cases are there to illustrate to Ted what a mistake "pooping where you eat" is.
As we went through each stage, I was trying to pinpoint which story I liked the best. I think it was Robin's. Know why? Because it seemed like kismet: she's Canadian, and he was a former hockey player. She got to meet the left wing on the Vancouver Canucks ("What's the opposite of name-dropping?" Barney asks). But he was a bit clingly -- he actually used the term "weekiversary" -- and when she broke up with him, he did a sportscast by saying "the Knicks lost because they were afraid of getting hurt!"
But who didn't like Barney's "Bar Killer" tryst with Wendy? Especially because his paranoia made it seem like he was suffering from the last phase, Fallout, when he really wasn't. That's my Best Barneyism of the week. In an episode full of Barney goodness, the fact that his very own rule was built on a false sense of dread brought the episode to a nice conclusion. It also made Ted's calling out of all of Barney's rule making just a little less obnoxious.
- As usual, the insults were flying: "How's everyone gonna know you're a stripper from Reno with daddy issues?" Lily mockingly asks Ted after he talks about his tattoo removal.
- By the way, the eight phases of the Platinum Rule are: Attraction, Bargaining, Submission, Perks, The Tipping Point, Purgatory (or, as Barney calls it, "Purg --- wait for it... keep waiting... keep waiting for all eternity only to discover there's no escape -atory"), Confrontation, and Fallout. Ted makes up a ninth phase, called Co-Existence.
- It's a sitcom cliche, but couples hanging out is kind of an equivalent of single people dating, isn't it? "Are you going to go antiquing, aren't you? You're going to antique the crap out of them," says Robin in one of her funniest moments of the season.
- The rule where you don't talk to your neighbors -- and Ted's addendum that you only acknowledge their existence when you haven't seen them in a few days and a strange smell is coming from their apartment -- doesn't only apply to New York City. I've been living in the same apartment here in NJ for a long time, and I still don't know some of my neighbors' names.
- Robin to the Ironman: "I'm getting a little sick of the charade" Lilly to the Gerards: "We're getting sick of charades."
- Speaking of charades, when Lily and Marshal were in their Perks phase, Marshal uses charades that they can go across the hall to play charades.
- Present-day Robin's bustier was quite nice, wasn't it?
- "Don't kill the bar" is a refrain that everyone should adopt. It just rolls off the tongue.
- Interesting how Barney's ignorance of the Golden Rule -- he thought it was "love thy neighbor" -- led him to create the Platinum Rule -- "never, ever love thy neighbor."
- Also interesting how Lily's hair is consistent with when each flashback took place, but Ted's clothes aren't (remember Season One Ted wore a lot of blazers and party shirts).
- Robin's sympathetic remark to Barney during his Platinum Rule tryst: "Wendy the Waitress-hyphen-Stinson."
- The Gerards were always there, weren't they? Lily and Marshall were so afraid of coming across them that they'd rather shimmy down the fire escape than let Ted in, only because the Gerards were leaving their apartment at the time. Of course, they somehow ran into them in the alley.
- Are Lily and Marshall ever going to move into that apartment in Dowisetrepla?
- I like how, after Barney musses with Ted's hair, Marshall automatically offers Barney a napkin. I guess ten years of living with Ted gave Marshall a good idea of just how much gunk his roomie uses in his hair.
- At the very end of the episode, Old Ted tells us that the AMA rule kept Young Ted's doctor from dating him "at least for the time being." Hm... interesting. Are we going to hear more from Dr. Stella Zinman once the butterfly disappears for good?
I think this is the last episode of HIMYM that was produced before the strike started. If that's true, at least the show goes on its forced hiatus on a high note. Like I said, save this one on the TiVo and play it for people over the holidays. Hopefully, they'll become converts. At the very least, you'll get to see the episode again, which is a pretty good thing, too.
|Ted dating his doctor||15 (2.5%)|
|Robin dating The Ironman||117 (19.1%)|
|Lily and Marshall dating the neighbors||116 (19.0%)|
|Barney dating Wendy the waitress||364 (59.5%)|