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October 24, 2014

How I Met Your Mother: Benefits

by Joel Keller, posted Jan 12th 2009 11:33PM
HIMYM: Benefits(S04E12) When I saw the promos for this episode, my heart sank. I really thought that this was going to be the standard sitcom "exes have a relapse and have to deal with it" trope that we've seen since at least Cheers. But I have to give Bays and Thomas credit; they put enough of a twist on the old game to make it entertaining. And they added a B-story that was light, but funny and relatable. More on that in a sec.

Back to the A-story. For the twist, we can thank Barney. And not just because he broke all those TVs.

Barney's pain at seeing Ted and Robin settle their roommate disputes with sex was that twist, and it was excellently played by Neil Patrick Harris. For the first time since the beginning of the season, we're seeing a vulnerable Barney that's barely hiding behind the Awesome exterior he puts up for himself. What was interesting was that we had a lot of the standard elements of such a story: the friend warning that exes getting back together will only result in someone getting hurt, the "ground rules" a la Seinfeld, the slip-up where one of them lets things get too emotional. But at the end of the episode, Ted and Robin were OK, and Barney was the one left with the sucking emotional chest wound, especially after Robin told him that friends shouldn't get involved with each other. If anyone saw that coming at the beginning of the episode, they'd be wrong.

The story led to some nice Barney moments. His Best Barneyism of the week is his careful selection of TVs at the electronic store, considering colors and black levels, just so he can smash them in the alley of MacLaren's. You know that Barney can't help but flex his alpha-male muscles just so he can find the perfect TV to take the brunt of his frustrations. First runner up is feelings hour in Lily's class. Second runner up is the "Gaza Strippers / Apart Thighed/Tear Down Your Pants" theory, especially because he came up with it after sex with Madeline Albright.

Boy, could I relate to Marshall's "reading a magazine" problem. At my old job, I used to print out pages from web sites to read in my "other office," just so it looked like I was walking around with important papers instead of the latest Slate think piece on Laguna Beach. Speaking of awful reality shows ... now we know how Heidi and Spencer of The Hills were used on the show; they mocked Marshall from the cover of the magazine he brought to the bathroom, as did Kendra Wilkinson of The Girls Next Door (had to look that one up) and Kim Kardashian, who -- OMG! -- "might cut bangs!" "You're right, woman who I don't know but my wife assures me is famous," (someone give me the exact quote, please!) was my favorite line of the night.

More fun stuff:
  • "That's aws... ful." - Barney to Robin after she said Ted broke things off.
  • Ted broke it off because he knows about Barney. How could Ted not figure it out after Barney tried to settle every one of the roomies' disputes?
  • Do they spell "weird" differently in Canada?
  • Lily: "My cuteness interferes with my message." Boy, does it ever.
  • "That didn't last long," for both Marshall's 8th floor bathroom and Ted/Robin's benefits break.
  • Barney: "Read a magazine means masturbating, right?"
  • Boy, Barney's mis-read "I love you" was a kick in the teeth, for him and us.
  • Ted/Robin saluting "Private Thing." Nice callback to last year.


How I Met Your Mother' Photos

    Actor Neil Patrick Harris arrives in an Audi to the Entertainment Tonight Emmy Party at the Disney Concert Hall on September 21, 2008 in Los Angeles.

    Kevin Parry/WireImage.com

    Presenters Kristin Chenoweth and Neil Patrick Harris on stage at the 60th Primetime Emmy Awards held at the NOKIA Theatre on September 21, 2008 in Los Angeles, California.

    Mathew Imaging/WireImage.com

    Presenters Kristin Chenoweth and Neil Patrick Harris on stage at the 60th Primetime Emmy Awards held at the NOKIA Theatre on September 21, 2008 in Los Angeles, California.

    Mathew Imaging/WireImage.com

    LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 21: Presenters Kristin Chenoweth and Neil Patrick Harris speak onstage during the 60th Primetime Emmy Awards held at Nokia Theatre on September 21, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Kristin Chenoweth;Neil Patrick Harris

    Getty Images

    LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 21: Actor Neil Patrick Harris (R) and David Burtka arrive at the 60th Primetime Emmy Awards held at Nokia Theatre on September 21, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** David Burtka;Neil Patrick Harris

    Getty Images

    Actor Jason Segel attends CBS Comedies

    Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic.com

    Actress Cobie Smulders attends CBS Comedies

    Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic.com

    Actress Cobie Smulders attends CBS Comedies

    Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic.com

    Actor Neil Patrick Harris attends CBS Comedies

    Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic.com

    Actress Alyson Hannigan (R) and her husband, actor Alexis Denisof attend CBS Comedies

    Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic.com

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42 Comments

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Sina

I'm sorry but I was mistaken. The typo on the list was 'releif'.

January 15 2009 at 2:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sina

I think the "is this how you spell 'weird'?" part refers to the "50 reasons to have sex" list on the napkin that was posted weeks earlier. 'weird' was spelled wrong on that list, if I remember it correctly. Maybe they were making fun of themselves?

Greetings from Germany. Love this site! Keeps me updated.

January 14 2009 at 6:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
M. Stephen Lukac

Am I the only one wondering about Lilly's comment about exes hooking up, followed by Future Ted's "more on that later" statement?

January 14 2009 at 12:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
SISSERS

I thought Barney's poster behind him in his office said "Awesomeness". Or didnt I see it right?

January 13 2009 at 9:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
MERVE-THE-PERVE

@Andrew : I know that but I was wondering if the people that were throwing those sets out just decided to buy new hd tv's and chunck their older inferior ones and Bays and Thomas were having fun with it since this episode aired close to the supposed transition deadline. I've never seen 4 or 5 tv's in 1 dumpster before except maybe at a tv repair shop.

January 13 2009 at 8:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
stg

I usually print out long wikipedia articles when I go to the bathroom at work

January 13 2009 at 8:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
superrrguy

For those motivational posters check out http://despair.com/

These are more like demotivational.

My favorite is:

Meetings
None of us is as dumb as all of us.

=)

January 13 2009 at 4:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dave

How is it possible that Lily has kept the fact that Barney loves Robin a secret for so long?

January 13 2009 at 3:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
MERVE-THE-PERVE

I wonder if all those tv's in the dumpster have anything to do with the digital conversion.

January 13 2009 at 1:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to MERVE-THE-PERVE's comment
Andrew

The digital conversion has nothing to do with your TV, just your TV service.

January 13 2009 at 5:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gabi

Loved this episode! I love seeing two sides of Barney, and that this side of him only comes out every now and then. God I want him and Robin to be togheter, but not to quickly though, I still need him to be his old awesome self a little bit longer. But it will be reallt interesting to see Barney in a relationship, I hope we get to see that, if only just a little bit.

Neil Patrick Harris should have won at the Golden Globes! Between his fantastic Barney and his amazing performances on SNL this weekend, he sure is one of the best actors on TV. I love him!

January 13 2009 at 1:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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