Last week, inspired by the sort of nostalgia that leads Ted to tell the story to his kids in the first place, I was all sorts of easy on How I Met Your Mother. I enjoyed it the same way you enjoy seeing old friends after a long time apart.
This week, with “Sorry, Bro,” I don’t need to cover my analysis in any excuses. This episode was one for the record books. The plot was one of the all time simplest: the gang sits in the bar talking. Within this conversation, they wove two distinct plot threads (a and b). The B-story involved a semi-hilarious bit featuring a pants-less Marshall and the ways that Barney tortured him. The A-story recounted the complicated, pretentious, hurtful relationship between Ted and Karen (Laura Prepon, aka Donna from That 70s Show).
First of all, I love it when the individual episode’s structure is referencing the overall show’s structure (e.g. this episode’s emphasis on the flashback). Add to that the fact that the flashbacks tonight were especially amazing, and you’ve got a classic of structure and plot development. This was a particularly heavy episode for continuity, with shout outs to (among others) “The Platinum Rule” with Barney’s fear of Wendy the Waitress as well as Robin’s relationship with Kurt and to “Brunch” with Lily’s obsession with Marshall’s calves. It also features other HIMYM favorites, like the gang all trying to top each other in a joke telling contest about Robin’s target audience at 4:00am, the references to Robin’s gun insanity, and the intensely awesome focus on Ted’s occasional douchery.
The b-pants-story was the perfect offset for the sad story that hid between the group’s jokes about Karen. It featured a ridiculous, semi-evil Barney (also a pretty pervy one, as when he admitted to Lily he’d probably reciprocate to Marshall if she were to give him something), an embarrassed but sweet Marshall, and a loving, if trying to hide her pregnancy, Lily. Robin got less to do, but damn if I don’t love watching Colbie Smulders act like a dork giggling about chimpanzees.
But it’s the A-story that really worked for me. My biggest problem with the Stella storyline was how poorly written she was. When the writers needed it, she turned into a huge bitch, but the rest of the time she was just sort of blank. Karen is starting out all sorts of evil, and I love it. Plus, Laura Prepon has a great energy, and has the kind of charisma that causes her to stand out even among our fabulous fivesome.
This is one of my all time favorite episodes, a sweet, friendly, not-too-broad but still quite funny half an hour with five of my favorite television characters on TV. And it also featured some truly fun one liners, a lot of which I transcribed right here (and a lot of which come from Lily, who sometimes has to sit out on the funny, but today really got to bring her A-game):
Lily: ” How could you break bread with that woman?”
” Ted honey, I want you to go outside and bite the curb. I’ll be out in a minute.”
Marshall (regarding Karen lingering as Lily painted him naked): “in Karen’s defense, I had just worked out.”
Robin: “Yeah, that’s pretty funny, but it’s no chimpanzee with two tuxedos. I mean, what did he forget he had the first one on?”
Barney (imitating the shorted Marshall): “Please sir can I have some more pants?”