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Review: How I Met Your Mother - The Rough Patch

by Joel Keller, posted Nov 9th 2009 11:30PM
HIMYM: The Rough Patch
(S05E07)
During most episodes of HIMYM, you tend to forget that this whole show is told from the perspective of Old Ted, who's telling his kids the longest, most boring meet-up story in history of the world. Bob Saget's narration often just goes in one ear and out the other, like the background music. But there are some episodes where the storytelling aspect of the series is firmly in place, with the exaggerations, changes, and bad memories often associated with this activity.

This was one of those episodes. Was Barney really that fat? Was Robin really that haggard? Did Archisexture really accidentally "fly" into Ted's VCR? Of course not. But those whoppers from Old Ted were what made this episode so entertaining. That and Alan Thicke. But Alan Thicke always makes things entertaining; he's Alan Thicke, for crissakes.

For all of this episode's zaniness, I have to say that I didn't find it to be nearly as funny as the two or three episodes that preceded it. Maybe it was too jokey, with NPH in his fat suit and the argument about how Stormtroopers aren't robots and Alan Thicke throwing his name around. But I still enjoyed this one, mainly because of the relationship truths we saw in it, and how Swarkles reacted to it.

Have sex or order a whole pizza? Who hasn't thought of that dilemma? The "relationship gut?" That's as common as the "freshman 15." Eating at the same diner every night? Of course every couple has an "our place" for that kind of thing. And every couple goes through what Lily described as "a rough patch," as two people get used to being around each other all the time.

The interesting part about Swarkles, though, wasn't that they were so right for each other; it was, as Ted put it, how two "alpha dogs" were going to be able to handle being in a cozy, comfortable relationship. And it didn't take us long to find out how that would work out, did it?

Are we going to see the "Fat Man and the Old Lady" get back together, or is it better that they're just friends? Well, Barney running with glee from MacLaren's when the words "failed Canadian variety show" came spilling out of Alan Thicke's mouth after the break-up is a good sign. I can see there being some more Robin Sparkles in our future, and Barney had to be back being the "real" Barney for us to be able to see it.

Though I must say, I admire Lily's absurd talent for breaking people up (I think Marshall called her "The Cracker," but I could be wrong). Her strategy for combining Swarkles' four main skirmish points -- The Battle of the Dirty Dishes, The Ex-Girlfriends Conflict, The Star Wars Altercation, and The Canadian-American War -- were brilliant... if only the two of them hadn't already broken up. If only the other participants in the stakeout cooperated... Lil could have put her plan in motion sooner.

More fun stuff:

  • Loved how Barney's porn stash just stayed in the living room during the entire episode. And Barney's 2005 pre-taped plea to Ted to break up whatever relationship he's found himself in was the Best Barneyism of the week. He even knew that Marshall would be sitting to Ted's right if both of them viewed the tape.
  • Lily after going through the stash: "I got squat." Marshall: "You got nothing?" Lily: "No, I got Squat." Gotta love made-up porn titles.
  • During the Star Wars Altercation, you have to give Robin credit for calling those seemingly diaper-clad guards "Stormpoopers."
  • Here's how we know how much being in a relationship changed Barney: "Legen -- wait for it -- ds of the Fall!"
  • Ted's porn viewing must have been at record levels when the pizza guy showed up at the stakeout station wagon; he thought everything the guy said was a line from one of the movies.
  • And, Marshall's right; a proper stakeout vehicle is a van. Preferably without windows.
  • Nice to see Crazy Meg again. It's fitting that she knows some of Alan Thicke's previous residences, doesn't it?
  • Don't get me wrong about NPH in the fat suit: He was comic gold. Harris does seem to be the cast member most willing to go through hours of torturous makeup to get a laugh, doesn't he?
  • Great way to signal that the old Barney's back: "Do you feel a chill?" Followed by Barney going "Daddy's home."

[Watch clips and free episodes of HIMYM at SlashControl.]

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jolene_fan

i thought this ep was very creative. they always write those 2 sides to every story pretty well. the kraken is also a pirates of the carribean reference. Barney is always so funny. Him and Robin as a couple wouldn't have been good long term.. glad that ended.

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November 23 2009 at 10:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
xnifex

I still don't understand the Swarkles nickname. Please explain.

November 10 2009 at 1:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to xnifex's comment
malren

This was one of the worst episode of this show I can remember. It was stupid, it NAILED the "Why would you tell your kids this story" flaw, the fat suit was terrible, and they stole a joke from Clerks without acknowledgment.

The only moments that were good were Lily and Marshal trying to score porn and Barney's triumphant return to the bar in full predator mode.

November 10 2009 at 11:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tanner

I don't think Marshall was calling Lily, "The Cracker". I think he was calling her "The Kraken".

November 10 2009 at 10:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dave

I feel like such an inadequate fan. Who's crazy Meg? I don't remember her.

November 10 2009 at 10:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Shaun

"And, Marshall's right; a proper stakeout vehicle is a van. Preferably without windows."

Sounds kinda dangerous.... maybe they should have just tinted the windows darkly :)

November 10 2009 at 7:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
plinstrot

I just started watching this episode but the part where Barney says "New catchphrase: Yes!" had me dying laughing.

November 10 2009 at 4:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to plinstrot's comment
Martin

I have to agree, "New Catchprhase: Yes!" would have to be the best relationship-barneyism of the week!! This speaks volumes of being in a relationship!

November 10 2009 at 9:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ryan

I agree with you a bit about this episode not being as funny as the past few episode... and yet as I read your review now I remembered all of those moments fondly and I even chuckled at a few of them when I play them back in my mind. Then again we already knew that an "okay" episode of HIMYM still beats a lot of things on TV right now.

It's a bit sad to see the "end" of Swarkles. I mean it's not like the show didn't give them time. We're already about 1/3 done through the season after all. I predict will see those two crazy kids again by the end of the season somehow.

Speaking of alpha dogs though, sometimes it's easy to overlook Lily, but she's as much an alpha dog as Robin and Barney. It's nice to see Alyson Hannigan really own this character. She was somewhat hindered for the latter half of last season due to pregnancy, but she's been full force since the first episode of this season.

I, for one, can't wait to see that Canadian TV Variety Show with Alan Thicke and Robin Sparkles. Maybe the 100th episode later this season?

November 10 2009 at 1:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tingrin87

Rapist van, Stakeout van, what's the difference?

November 10 2009 at 12:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
iuqiddis

I thought it was 'Swarley', unless you just made that nickname up.

November 10 2009 at 12:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to iuqiddis's comment
Chris

I believe thats the name the barista kept giving to Barney.

November 10 2009 at 12:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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