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'How I Met Your Mother' Season 6, Episode 21 Recap

by Joel Keller, posted Apr 19th 2011 1:00AM
'HIMYM' - 'Hopeless'['How I Met Your Mother' - 'Hopeless']

John Lithgow spilled the beans to us a few weeks ago that he was going to be back as Jerry, Barney's estranged father. And this week's appearance was, as you might expect for a character who's making a return visit, an improvement over the first appearance. Not that Lithgow was bad the last time; he was just more subdued than what we would have expected.

This time around though, we saw a glimpse of the "Crazy Jerry" that Barney's mom banished in 1983. And, even though this episode had a few glaring flaws, Barney's quest to see the "awesome" side of his dad more than made up for that.

Yes, this episode contained a lot of soul searching for the ol' Barnster, which is a touchy subject amongst fans. Some want Barney to grow and change, and some want him to never change. Still others want him to stay the Barney we love, but not become a one-note caricature. As we found out today, Barney's probably just as confused about what he wants to be as the fans are.

"I love my life, but I don't like that I love it," he tells Jerry as they ride back to Jerry's house after a long night of supposed debauchery in the city. It was a pretty telling line, because at 35, Barney is really at a crossroads. He can either be Awesome Barney or a Barney with a settled but boring life. At he's not quite sure he knows which way to go. He hates that Jerry dropped his roadie lifestyle for family life, but he loves that Jerry can go fishing with his young son on any given weekend.

Barney's day with his dad pretty much took up the meat of the episode, in order to give the topic the proper time needed to explore the consequences of Jerry's "never stop partying" edict to an 8-year-old Barney as he left. This didn't leave much time for the other members of the gang. It seemed like Barney's desire to give his friends more interesting lives in order to impress Jerry could have had a lot of comic possibilities, but Barney pretty much forgot about it as soon as he left club Hopeless with what he thought was his very drunk father.

The show didn't forget about it, but it was only there to service some silly side plots. Somehow, exec producers Carter Bays and Craig Thomas not only figured out how to show us Ted's ridiculous red cowboy boots again -- bought while he and Robin were still a couple -- but link them up to what is going to be a continuing story about Robin's secret crush. He's a crush, by the way, that seems to have very poor taste in clothes; I don't even think The Situation would be caught dead in that loud shirt he was wearing.

The other bit of silliness was Marshall and Lily's relative openness to pretending they were in an open marriage. We always knew that Lily would let her freak flag fly if given the chance, but she was so eager to pretend to find other lovers that Marshall should have been more alarmed. It was funny that in their phone number quest, Marshall almost hits on Robin, and the fact that their "usual" bet pays off with sex in the bathroom no matter who wins. But the plot really didn't go anywhere useful.

Back to Barney. It was fun to watch Jerry pretend to be drunk -- we even got Lithgow making fun of his own character from 'Footloose' -- but I wish there was more than just a montage of the two of them having their night of recklessness, because it would have made the impact of Jerry telling Barney he faked it all the funnier. It all happened too quickly, but it gave us enough space to get Barney's self-reflection at the end, so it was for a good cause.

One more thing: Gotta love seeing the cast sing the theme song. I wish it was longer, and I hope they use it on an ongoing basis. Just a really fun surprise that I hope Bays (I can say Thomas, but Carter does most of the interviews) talks about at some point. Loved Josh Radnor awkwardly kicking over the mic stand.

More fun stuff:

-- I'm going to give the Best Barneyism of the week to Young Barney, mainly because he almost had the 'Legen -- wait for it -- dary' bit down at such a young age. At that point, though, he was saying "legendjerry," which I'm guessing his dad taught him to say.

-- Loved the Abbott and Costello-esque routine where the gang and Jerry figure out what clubs are open and which aren't. We put it in our TV Replay clips, and if someone has the patience to transcribe the whole thing, please do so and leave it in the comments. My favorite part is the homages to 'Who's On First,' namely that Third Base is yet another club in the list. Also great, that OK is Lame, which is also the name of a gay club -- which Marshall says he was in by accident once. "I think it's called Lamé."

-- A fun sight gag was the stack of multicolored cards given by Barney to Ted when everyone else just got a single card. He knows Ted way too well when "Don't quote Oscar Wilde" was at the top of the stack.

-- More on the "secret crush" story -- and, no I'm not going to explore Lily's secret crush on Mila Kunis. What's the smile coming across Robin's face there at the end? Was she thinking of the crush, or just going back to fond memories of her and Ted together? Remember, this is while Barney is starting to realize that he had a pretty good thing going with Robin; he not only mentioned it before Jerry came by, but in the car on the way back to Jerry's house.

-- Jerry must be some teacher if he was able to get one of his students to drive him back to the 'burbs in the middle of the night. Also, if she's just a driving student, how dangerous was it for her to drive back alone?

'How I Met Your Mother' airs Mondays at 8PM ET on CBS.

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Remember in season one I believe the scooby gang went to OK. Robin was a VIP and she flashed the bouncer and Marshall was on X.

April 20 2011 at 12:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You totally missed an incredibly creative joke. Little Barney was complaining that he wasn't going to be able to see Led Zeppelin with Uncle Jerry...and that it was going to be Led and Jerry. Brilliant!

April 19 2011 at 1:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to DCstewieG's comment

Yeah, I called it "legendjerry," so I guess I must not have connected it together. Or I was getting sleepy again. I can fix it in the review.

April 19 2011 at 3:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I instantly thought that Robin was the girl he was talking about, but let's not forget Nora. I know at the bar he gave that little speech about Robin and how he was so happy with her, but he was happy with Nora, too, and more recently. So it could be her.

April 19 2011 at 11:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Barney - Let's see. What club should we hit first? There's club "Was". There's "Wrong".
Marshall - Uhmm..Those places shut down a long time ago.
Barney - Oh no.
Marshall - "Oh NO" shut down too.
Ted - There's "Where"
Jerry - Where's "Where"?
Lily - "Where's" where "Was" was, Isn't it?
Barney - No, "Was" wasn't where "Where" was, "Was" where "Wrong" was, right?
Jerry - Ok
Ted - Not "OK", that place is lame
Robin - "OK" is "Lame"? I thought "Lame" was a gay bar? Or is that "Wrong"?
Marshall - That's wrong, that's "Not Wrong".
Ted - Guy's focus
Robin - Ooooh, I like "Focus", let's go there.
Ted - Where?
Robin - Not "Where", "Focus".
Lily - I thought "Focus" was closed?
Barney - No, "Was" was closed. Once "Was" shut down and reopened as "Closed"
Marshall - So "Closed" is open?
Barney - No, "Closed" is closed.
Jerry - "I don't know, third base, right"?
Robin - "Third Base" is all frat guys.
Lily - I'll go any place, OK?
Ted - Not "OK", "OK" is lame
Robin - "OK" is not "Lame", "Lame" is a gay bar
Lily - Guy's, shut up.
Barney - No, "Shut Up" shut down.
Marshall - For the record, I was in there once, by accident, and I'm pretty sure it's pronounced "La'me"
Barney - It's hopeless, isn't it?

----Cut to "Hopeless----

I hope I did that right.
I know there was more near the end before Marshall "La'me" speech, but I don't remember it.

April 19 2011 at 9:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Weekend with Jerry and a Led Zeppelin cover band = led & Jerry.

Ok, so I was late to the game, and just saw thr episode in which Barney claimed he grew up thinking Bob Barker was his father. So none of that was true? I guess kind of like the episode I saw in which Marshall claimed, quite sincerely, to have never been in a fight, which was followed by an episode that showed Marshall to be the closest thing to Tyler Durden.

In any case Barney seems at a crossroads only because he's in love with one person.

April 19 2011 at 7:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to junkyard9's comment

Barney was always told that Jerry was his uncle. He didn't learn until recently that Jerry was his dad. And Marshall said he had never been in any fights except with his brothers but they were extreme so that he became a bad ass.

April 19 2011 at 9:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to CassieW's comment

Fair enough on point 1, but on point 2 you're incorrect. In that specific episode Lily keeps saying Marshall has only fought his brothers, but in the licking the liberty bell episode Marshall threatens a guy and, when the guy turns out not be hitting on Lilly he gives the guy a womanly hug and cries "oh thank you I've never been in a fight before."

Something the writers later chose to ignore. And while yes, this is giant nitpicking, I'm only aware because the two episodes were right next to each other on my DVR as two stations air syndicated episodes out here.

And, to Gord, in Robin's first comment about Wrong it shouldn't be in quotes, I don't think, as she wasn't asking if it was the club Wrong but rather if she was factually wrong, which is then interpreted as her meaning the club Wrong (which is the joke - every time someone says a word someone else interprets it as a club, hence why that wrong isn't Wrong.)

April 19 2011 at 9:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down

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