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Worldly Distractions: How I Met Your Mother 9.13 - Bass Player Wanted




Nine episodes of this series left. How is that possible? And why am I so happy to see that?

Well, let's just say that half a season covering a twenty-four hour period doesn't exactly fill me with confidence.

Marshall is still stranded outside the bus, and has just made the ill-fated decision to walk the five miles to the Farhampton Inn. With luggage. And a baby. No way that will go wrong. We get a musical number called "Marshall vs the Machines", which looks a lot like the Bonanza theme. I think it's sung by Jason Segel.

Soon enough, he's exhausted, and even catching Bigfoot smoking by the side of the road seems like no big deal to this cryptozoologist. Just then, a woman pulls up in her car and offers them a lift. No points for guessing who it is.

Yes, guys, that is how Marshall met The Mother. And don't worry - if you're exceptionally inobservant, Ted narrates it for you. Opening credits.

Robin, Barney, Lily and Ted hang about bemoaning the missing part of their group - the fancy scotch Ted broke about six or seven episodes back. It's recent to them, but one of the problems in stretching this weekend out is - well, who cares about a bottle of scotch over six weeks? We get a flashback, just in case.

Lily's still mad about the judgeship, but she's not forcing her friends to choose sides. Yet. Barney and Robin, of course, side with Marshall and Lily respectively - Barney because a judge friend could smooth over his considerable legal shenanigans, and Robin for no apparent reason. We are interrupted when a douchey-looking guy sits down at their table. They awkwardly wonder if he's going to try to hit on Robin or Lily. Douchemaster is played by Andrew Rannells, whom you may remember from such original cast recordings as The Book of Mormon - he played Elder Kevin Price, also known for being a massive douche (though he got better in the end, of course). He was also Elijah, Hannah's gay ex on girls, notable for the cocaine episode and also somewhat smarmy - though to be fair, everyone on that show has the smarm going on. I don't know what it is - something in his face?

Anyway, Robin and Lily think he's in for a threesome, and talk about it telepathically. I am not making this up. Predictably, Robin finds it ridiculous, while Lily's governed by her longtime crush on Robin. Why these two never got romantic even for ten seconds is beyond me. It totally would have happened on Girls, is all I'm saying. The guy reveals that he's connected to the wedding in some way. Robin can't come up with his identity. Lily's no help either. I wonder who he could be?

The Mother manages to "guess" all of Marshall's story. She reveals that she rode the train up with Lily many episodes back, but he has fled the front seat in terror. For someone who chases giant monsters for a hobby, he sure scares easily.

Robin and Lily still can't figure out who the guy is, but he's winning them over with his sad childhood stories and plethora of compliments. He especially seems to know Robin well, which just confuses her further. Lily whispers to Ted that he can replace the scotch at the Farhampton Liquor store. Oh, god, the entire B-plot (C-plot? sd;lkjdfjklsdjksfddkjl plot?) will be a madcap dash to move half a kilometre, right?

Oh, it should be pointed out that Lily is not suggesting buying the liquor. In fact, she's sure to point out that there's a really high window in the store. As if maybe she's done it before. Ted declares that he won't go to jail for Barney. Unfortunately, Barney overheard him and is highly offended. Going to jail for a friend is the most noble ("broble") thing a man can do. In fact, he informs Ted that it's "the dream", prompting Ted to recite a long list of other inane things Barney has dubbed "the dream". Ted then challenges Barney to make "going to jail for a friend" the dream, the only dream, forever, and never use the phrase "the dream" again. Since this is Barney, challenge accepted.

Lily and Robin are still chatting with the mysterious guy. Italy comes up, and the guy mentions that Robin told him she was on Marshall's side. Lily is shocked and insulted, of course. In fact, it's so bad we have to cut to another story.

Marshall and the Mother are getting along famously, making her 2/5 in the friend group so far. She mentions that she's part of the wedding band, but she's changed her mind and will turn around after dropping Marshall. See, the lead singer is evil - he likes to find sore spots in people's lives and manipulate them into misery. He's especially good at ruining friendships. His name is Darren. We cut to find that she is, as 99% of you have probably guessed, talking about the man who just dropped a bombshell in the middle of Lily and Robin's friendship. And he's just about to work his magic on Barney and Ted...

Lily and Robin fight like mad while the Mother explains Darren's process and Darren himself chats up Ted and Barney. He butters people up, complimenting them left and right. Then he takes a tiny detail from a person's background to make himself seem familiar. Then he tells a tragic story about his childhood - usually stolen from a Disney movie, such as "my mother was killed in a hunting accident". Back at the inn, Ted and Barney are in tears. Then when one friend goes, Ted asks the other how he's doing, which leaves the remaining friend a spot to open up.

Robin tells Lily, legitimately, that there are two sides to this. Lily plays the "best friend" card and has... no real argument. However, Robin apologizes and says she supports Lily no matter what. Just as they hug it out, Darren reappears and mentions casually that no friend steals the bride's thunder with her own problems, right? And we're back to square one.

The Mother tells Marshall her own tragic Darren story. She had a band back in business school, "Superfreakonomics" (which is an actual sequel to Freakonomics that got published, I might point out). Darren joined, then pushed the Mother out of the band. Originally she was lead vocals, but now she's been demoted to bass. And it turns out that she might even be losing that, because Darren has just posted an ad online looking for a new bass player. Side note - of all the bands Barney and Robin could have chosen, they pick Superfreakonomics???

She tells him it doesn't matter, because she quit anyway. He protests that she should fight for it. The Mother tells him that she didn't think it was worth it, until she met a crazy woman at the inn who told her to steal Darren's van. Yep, it was Lily. Marshall chooses this moment to casually bring up his judgeship and The Crushing of Lily's Dreams. Turns out that after The Mother stole the van, she was supposed to run Marshall over with it.

However, The Mother is not wholly unsympathetic, merely suggesting that they have a Big Talk. Marshall counters that she should have a Big Talk of her own with Darren (but not before possibly peeing in his stolen van, which she is driving right now). The Mother says she hates confrontation, which just makes her seem more eerily like Ted. Seriously, guys - anyone notice the resemblance? They should check and make sure they're not kissin' cousins or something.

They decide to have their various Big Talks and everything is good.

Well, it's good in the car, but over at the Inn, it's not so hot. Robin and Lily have just made up again when Darren mentions that Robin feels abandoned by Lily's departure. (Bitch please, my best friend and I have had two years of trans-continental and it's NBD.) Not content with ruining one close relationship, he crosses the room and mentions that Ted is moving to Chicago.

We come back from the commercials to the inevitable fallout. Barney is thunderstruck and hurt by Ted's move. Ted tries to smooth things over, but come on, there's no way to smooth over disappearing with no warning right after you're best man at your bro's wedding. Like, at least Lily and Marshall gave them warning, right? Barney gives the devastating line, "It'll be easier to say goodbye knowing how much I mean to you," and storms out.

Lily and Robin have a talk on the patio, where Robin admits that she didn't really want Marshall to win - she just wanted to keep Lily nearby. To make it up to her, she has brought Marshpillow, Lily's stuffed Marshall substitute who is used for questionable bedtime activities. Tonight, however, he has a different purpose. Robin holds on to the creepy husband-doll as Lily gives it the pummeling of a lifetime.

Barney and Ted have a similar encounter in the lobby, where Ted "swears to Hef" that Barney is important to him. At first Barney dismisses his apology, rightly pointing out that friends tell each other about major life changes such as moving somewhere. To prove his friendship, Ted produces - the magical expensive scotch. This is the third bottle, which would make $1800 spent if it hadn't been for Lily's sticky fingers. And it looks like Ted took a page out of Lily's book - he swiped the booze. Which means that he was willing to go to jail for a friend. Barney gets this right away, and is overwhelmed. He's still upset, but realizes why Ted is going - the new Barney/Robin/Ted dynamic. They admit they'll miss each other and hug like the best friends they are.

Marshall and The Mother arrive at the Farhampton Inn. The Mother is about to leave, but abruptly changes her mind, and vows to go back in and reclaim her band. In the process, she and Marshall accidentally teach Marvin a vulgar phrase - his first word. Oops.

The Mother practices her Reason Darren Sucks Speech, but she can't get it together. Linus the bartender, hovering nearby, offers her the Kennedy package. Like Lily, The Mother will spend the weekend ridiculously wasted.

Speaking of Lily, she's still murdering Marshpillow when Robin asks her to stop. That's right - the non-pillow Marshall is right behind them. Segel and Hannigan absolutely nail the scene. The look of hurt in Lily's teary eyes, Marshall's stricken face. A brilliant moment of feelings laid bare for one of TV's most stable couples. However, they mutually agree to "pause", and embrace each other and Marvin. The reaming-out can wait until January. For now, they are a family.

The Mother gets progressively drunker and wonders about how the world's villains escape justice. Karma doesn't always work. The five friends share the scotch on the patio, reunited at last. Darren steps in just as Ted is pouring the drinks - causing him to drop the bottle for the third time. The Mother contemplates on how sometimes you don't get your revenge on the bastards - just as Ted punches out the man who deserves it most.

Everyone laughs. Darren runs in and asks for ice, telling everyone that the best man just punched him. The Mother is amusedly curious - and Darren quits upon seeing her reaction. The Mother buys this anonymous Darren-puncher some of the bar's finest scotch. The gang, who happily each managed to get a glass filled before the scotch's untimely destruction, wander back into the bar. Linus hands Ted the drink - without telling him who it's from.

Tag scene - Marshall apologizes for missing the rehearsal dinner. Barney acts like he doesn't care, which is the thinnest of veneers. To make it up to them, Marshall has a special gift. However, it has to wait until after the wedding photos. Barney insists he needs it now, so Marshall reaches behind him. Bringing his arm up, he prepares to deliver the final slap...

This marks my final holiday special (at least for the American networks), and it was a good one! There were a couple of gags, but the storyline resolutions were what made the episode worthwhile - as well as the setup for the second half. Everything is beginning to fall into place, and in spite of myself, I admit - it's all starting to work. The Mother is an interesting character in her own right, and she fits in with the group friendship. I think we can all acknowledge that this dynamic is what drives the show in the first place. To see it coming together is a real treat for any fan. Happy holidays, readers. Join me next week for Downton and Call the Midwife!

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