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Worldly Distractions: How I Met Your Mother 9.15 - Unpause




So after last week's atrocious episode, we have nowhere to go but up, right? Right?

Well, before that bizarre little adventure, we had a more important issue on the plate - Lily and Marshall's big reunion, and the settling of the Judgeship vs Italy problem. I assume this is the "unpause" of the title. First of all, though, we get a scene of Ted and the Mother a few years down the line. They're on a weekend away, she's just gone into labor, Ted is the supportive dad you know he'd be, and they continue to tease each other in their perfect Ted-and-the-Mother way. For all the criticism we've (deservedly) thrown at this season, they really did get this dynamic right. Ted tells the Mother that the baby had better hurry up, because it's late, and nothing good happens after two in the morning. The screen tells us that they're at the Farhampton Inn, and it's 2017.

We go back to the present Farhampton, where Robin and Ted are mercilessly teasing Barney over his very visible hand-shaped bruise. I have got to say, that thing looks painful. You'd think Robin would be mad about it ruining the wedding pictures, but nope, for a bride she's pretty cool. In the corner, Marshall and Lily alternate loving and hating each other. The fight is just around the corner, but they're keeping it cool for the sake of the gang.

Ted gives us a recap of the "pause", and explains it's been a longstanding tradition in the Eriksen-Aldrin relationship, either to cool down or refocus the argument or simply attend to other matters. Anyway, they have agreed to hold the pause until they stop hanging out with their friends, and Marshall finds himself desperately trying to prolong the night as a result - though since the slap occurred around one AM, doesn't that mean it's at least two or three by now?

And indeed it is two o'clock, there are sixteen hours to go, and eventually even the closest of friends must go to sleep. Opening credits.

Marshall displays the highlight of his roadtrip, a show called "Embarrassing Souvenirs I Picked Up From Ted's Childhood Home". Everyone sets in a for a giggle. A shameful chronicle of Ted's life follows, including a picture of him dressed as a cowboy with his best friend - a balloon. The entire gang makes fun of Ted for his dorkiness, while Ted pretends to laugh it off. However, he soon crumbles under the pressure.

Barney gets completely wasted, as Ted recounts tales of his various levels of drunkenness in the past. This includes an intriguing phase called "Marcel Marceau drunk". The worst level, however, is "Jabba drunk", where Barney's speech becomes so unintelligible as to resemble the infamous Hutt. Sixteen hours away from marriage, guess where he's at now?

Robin decides that the party needs to be broken up, though Marshall keeps trying to delay it. Reluctantly, he leaves, ready to face a verbal pummeling. However, the minute Lily has him out of the room, she pulls him onto the bed for other plans.

While they're occupied with that, Robin tries to get Barney out of the bar. However, he suddenly starts saying a whole bunch of embarrassing things. Ted realizes that Barney has reached a new level of drunkenness. Like Jim Carrey in that one movie, he is now incapable of lying. As Ted and Robin realize the possibilities, all possibilities of going to sleep disappear...

Marshall and Lily continue their activities, though Lily assures him that once they're out of bed, the fight is going to happen. The proverbial lightbulb goes off, and Marshall realizes that if he can prolong the sex, he can put off the argument. DUDE. Rip off the band-aid and take this fight like a man. I get that it's unpleasant, but really? Permanent sexytimes instead of owning up to your mistake? That's downright ridiculous. Well, he gives himself a little pep talk, and off they go.

Ted and Robin continue to interrogate their best friend/spouse-to-be. Barney embarrasses himself several times over. Ted finds out things he didn't want to know about his mom. Robin almost gets to the bottom of the "ring bear" crisis - but is thwarted when Barney reverts to Jabba drunk. Like the responsible people they are, they pour more booze down his throat.

Marshall is quickly driven to the brink by the marital shenanigans, so  to keep on going he forces himself to think of unsexy things, like fingernail clippings and roadkill. A song accompanies this. Yes, they wrote an actual song about it. Putting all your effort in the wrong places, guys. The unsexy thoughts begin to work a bit too well, so Marshall reverts back to sexy thoughts (and his are truly terrifying). It still doesn't work, though, so he tells Lily he'll be right back.

Barney's super wasted again and blabbing all his secrets when Marshall comes running in dressed in a bathrobe. He pleads for some sort of bedroom help. Barney gives him some kind of terrifying aphrodisiac (which Robin has not heard about until now), and Marshall is on his way. Robin and Ted continue with the truth-telling session. Ted learns that Barney spends a "crapload" on suits every year, but that's okay, since Robin's family is rich. Like, 6000 craploads rich. Yeah, that's about the price of your average house in Vancouver. Ted immediately gets snotty about how he paid for everything while they were dating. Really, Ted? Really?

They get into a huge argument, Barney wandering in with inane answers from time to time. This causes them to realize what's truly important - humiliating the man in front of them. We are given a selection of Barney's subsequent answers, including the intriguing "Yes, but not while she was Secretary of State" - twice. This goes on for a while, until we get to the big question - what does Barney do for a living?

Aaaand we cut to Marshall, who has successfully fucked Lily to sleep and is reveling in the victory. However, he steps out of the bathroom only to step on one of Ted's embarrassing childhood objects, which makes a noise and wakes Lily up. She screams "Unpause!", and the game is up.

Ted explains the mystique of Barney's career to the audience, and along with Robin eagerly awaits the answer. Unfortunately, even this level of drunkenness can't cut to Barney's deepest secret, as he just scoffs "please" like all the other times. Robin is about to give up, but Ted realizes that Barney is telling the truth after all. He asks Barney for more details. We get a recap of Barney's conversion from hippie to awesome, during which he went crawling to the businessman who stole his girlfriend and prompted the makeover in the first place. During the interview, a guy gets dragged away by the police screaming that he was set up, to which the businessman decides that they suddenly have an opening. Barney Stinson: HIRED.

Barney's job is literally called PLEASE: provide legal exculpation and sign everything. Basically, in exchange for sixteen craploads a year, Barney has to put his name on all the documents and hang himself on the line if they ever get in legal trouble. How he didn't get arrested in the past nine years is beyond me, but hey, it sounds like a pretty good deal otherwise. Ted is horrified at the danger he's put himself in, but Barney loves his job, which I guess counts for something.

Lily and Marshall have finally unpaused. They set ground rules for the argument, reassure each other of their love, and proceed. It's pretty brutal. Marshall refuses to believe he did anything wrong, and calls her job a "hobby" to boot. She shouts desperately that they are going to Italy, and that he is selfish for destroying this with no warning. He brings up the old breakup from Season 1/2. Lily stares in horror, and so do I.

Robin and Ted plead with Barney to get out of this awful job, but that's when Barney reveals his master plan - in about two months, he will tell his company that he's been colluding with the Feds. And no, it's not for legal or ethical reasons. It all comes back to the girlfriend. Adjusting his tie, he walks out dropping the mic while his boss squirms under the grip of several officers. The "Barney Stinson's Awesome" song plays. Well played, bro.

Lily and Marshall's argument continues, and just gets uglier and uglier. He calls her selfish even now, and asks what would have happened had she found success in San Francisco. Is he a consolation prize? Lily runs from the room in tears. Guys, this is getting pretty edgy. If I didn't know they last until 2030 from the show's canon, I'd have some pretty big doubts.

Robin finally gets the truth about the ring bear situation - it is a human child ringbearer, and nothing will go amiss. She's massively relieved. The bride and groom go off to separate rooms for their last night of singledom, and the best man is of course tasked with Barneysitting. Ted asks one last question - how is Barney feeling, hours away from marriage? Fortunately, Barney can honestly answer that he feels good, since he loves Robin so much - and no longer has cause to feel broken, as he has for decades. They have a happy bro moment, Barney goes back into Jabba mode, and the two head upstairs, though Ted's horrified to be stuck with the bar tab. He charges it to Robin's room instead.

Ted reiterates that nothing good happens after two AM. Lily tearfully asks someone if she can stay with them after her big fight with Marshall. Aaand of course it's the Mother. In the same frame, we move up to 2017, where the Mother and Ted lug their sleeping toddler Penny out to the car and drive off to the hospital. Ted explains that all rules have exceptions, and in their case the exception is their son, Luke.

Tag scene - an unseen creature is dragged on a chain, and he has the same name as the ringbearer. His noises, though, sound suspiciously unchildlike...

Next episode: "How Your Mother Met Me". We learn what the Mother has been up to in the past eight years. Sounds pretty promising to me.

As for this episode, I have to admit, I really enjoyed it. Barney's drunken truths could have been awful, and got a tad corny at the end, but provided lots of laughs along the way. His job revelation was no letdown and had a satisfying conclusion. The glimpses into Ted's future were also nice. I also thought that Lily and Marshall's fight, though unpleasant to watch, was surprisingly well-written and true to their characters. It added a touch of much-needed gravity to this off-the-wall season, though Marshall became really, really unlikable (and the sex stuff was just ridiculous). Compared to last week, yes, it was much better, but I think it stands as a decent episode overall. And considering what we've had to put up with since September, I'll take decent in a heartbeat.


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