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Worldly Distractions: How I Met Your Mother 8.21 - Romeward Bound




Romeward Bound


Phew, that was a long wait. After a lacklustre episode a few weeks ago, it was nice to get a break, but I’m glad to be back with Ted and the gang (well, the gang – who’s ever glad to be back with Ted?). Let’s see where the mind of Mosby will take us next.

We begin with a quick recap of Lily and Marshall’s life. Lily is doing wonderfully as the Captain’s art consultant, Marshall is an awesome lawyer, and everyone’s happy – even baby Marvin. Leave it to Lily’s boss to ruin everything. He’s moving to Rome for a year, and wants Lily to join him. Apparently he can’t live without amazing art, even though I’m sure he can find a suitable replacement in Italy? Whatever his reasons, Lily has the chance of a lifetime, and less than a day to decide. This is a perfect set-up to lead us into the opening credits.

At MacLaren’s, Barney is trying to leave after only a few minutes. After a brief argument about the word “literally†(guess which side Pedantic Ted is on – I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised), he devolves into a rant about why people go to bars, anyway, and how lame bars are, making every viewer spit out their coffee in the assumption that they have accidentally added LSD instead of sugar. Barney denigrating a night out? Barney wanting to spend time at home with his wifey? There’s got to be a catch, right?

Before we get to find out, however, Ted interrupts him when he notices a girl from his yoga class at the bar – “The Girl in the Big Coat†(Mircea Monroe). He claims the two had an instant connection, so it means she’s probably the one and they’ll totally get married and have kids named Luke and Leia yada yada yada. Her “redonkulous†body under the big coat might have something to do with the attraction, too. As soon as Barney hears that he’s not going anywhere.

Lily bursts in with news of an offer. Barney immediately assumes – what you can imagine Barney would assume, but she clarifies the true nature, and is definitely considering it. Turns out living abroad and working in art has been a longtime dream. Ted excitedly tells her that Marshall has long dreamed of Italy, too. Looks like a fabulous opportunity, right?

A quick phone call to Marshall shatters this idea. Lily dreams of her stunning career, while Marshall is bored and lonely at home with the baby. Eventually, Ted predicts, it will devolve into “an angsty, existential black-and-white Italian movie.†Do we get the Italian art cinema homage to go with it? We get the Italian art cinema homage to go with it. At a little cafe in Rome, Marshall is lured away from his marriage by an Italian beauty who wants to go to Minnesota and learn his mother’s recipe for ham casserole. Yep, that is definitely too big a risk to take.

Lily is interrupted from her reverie when the room suddenly becomes very hot. Turns out Barney slipped the bartender $100 to heat up the bar in the interests of getting Big Coat Girl to undress. Lily’s horrified. He’s engaged, not dead, guys! And Robin totally understands, he promises. With a sigh, Lily calls the Captain to turn him down. He’s not taking no for an answer. When she insists, he hangs up the phone and Lily’s career as an art consultant is over.

Just then, Barney is distracted by Big Coat Girl taking off – sorry, putting on a scarf and adding to the portion of her skin that’s covered. He is bitterly disappointed, but instantly cheers up when Robin walks in and kisses the girl on the cheek. By his reckoning this is going to be the greatest night of his life, and he can totally rub it in Ted’s face forever. Robin walks over and introduces him to Liddy. The wedding planner. Barney hastily rebuttons his shirt and introduces himself. Sorry, Barn, maybe one of these days. Ted sheepishly tries to butt in. Lily flees the scene to go tell Marshall about her day.

She is met with an enormous discrepancy. Marshall had told her of a “big work project†keeping him away from home. Turns out it was a house of cards, they haven’t had a client in ages, and the firm is slowly dying. The promising career Lily gave up Rome for has turned out to be nothing. When she tells Marshall, he is immediately besotted with the idea. He runs to the Captain’s place himself.

Josh Radnor has the world’s best goofy face, and it’s on full display as Ted ogles the wedding planner. Liddy, meanwhile, has no idea that both men are hot for her and keeps “Tobiasing†the conversation – that is, obliviously peppering her speech with double entendres and driving the guys mad. Unfortunately, she’s still wearing the coat. When she leaves to go to the washroom, Robin immediately interrogates Ted and Barney. They confess to everything. She’s a little exasperated – but extremely curious to know what’s under the coat too. Barney declares that she’s the coolest fiancée ever. Ted tells The Story of the Coat Removal in Yoga Class, which only tantalizes them further. Barney bemoans the fact that Marshall isn’t there, because he would just ask to have the coat removed. Having met the girl of his dreams, Marshall does not give off the air of desperation that would seem creepy if, say, Ted asked. Robin picks up on this and suggests that Barney ask. He hesitates. BIG DILEMMA.

Liddy comes back and launches into more wedding plans. Barney is still terrified of asking. He steels himself. Opens his mouth. Says nothing. Silently tells himself to man up. Nothing’s happening. Finally, he manages to ask. She gives him a blank look, and there’s a very tense moment... and then she smiles brightly and says “Sureâ€. He passed the test, AND gets to see Liddy’s body. Barney is pleased that he finally seems to have gotten his raging libido somewhat under control. Until Liddy removes the coat, revealing a body which gives off a ray of light that temporarily blinds both Barney and Robin and renders them speechless. (It makes sense in context.) Thunderous music plays. Something spectacular has changed them both forever.

At Marshall and Lily’s place, Robin excitedly recounts the Saga of the Coat. Barney comments that Robin has given him a great gift – he can be as big a creep as he wants without a problem. (Side note: Is this why women keep inexplicably falling for Pete Campbell on Mad Men?) If this is what marriage is like, he’s going to enjoy it. Just then, the Captain calls. Marshall has convinced him to offer the job again. Lily pauses for a moment – and then gently tells him no.

Everyone is horrified. Lily comes out with a ton of silly excuses, like having to get a new passport photo, but Ted stops her and asks to know the real reason. She imagines massive failure while Marshall has the time of his life home with the baby. At a cafe (in black-and-white), a beautiful Italian woman chats her up. When she hears Lily was an art consultant, she mentions that her husband used to be married to one. You guessed it – Marshall turns up on a scooter with Marvin in a Snugli, and the Italian woman gleefully runs over.

We go to Marshall in Little Italy, wandering around in a white suit inspecting fruit just like The Godfather. Before you can say “Simpsons already did itâ€, he gets a text from Ted letting him know that Lily has turned down the job again. He curses in Italian.

Okay, question – is this elaborate setup just a way of getting rid of Jason Segel and Allyson Hannigan for the final season? I’ve heard Segel was reluctant and Hannigan certainly doesn’t need the show for her career. Hmm. This could be interesting. Let’s see if they actually leave first.

At MacLaren’s, Barney is rhapsodizing about his upcoming wedding day, and the very low chance that Liddy will be wearing the coat when she attends. Ted advises him to stop waxing eloquent about Liddy. Robin may be cool, but Barney is still being pretty inappropriate, and just might push her too far. Barney points out that he’s the one getting married in three weeks, and Robin’s marrying him, not Ted. Ouch. Just freaking ouch. Way to twist the knife, Barney. Ted concedes that it’s not his place. With a resigned expression, he orders the next round.

Marshall, Lily and Marvin are sitting out on the steps, Marshall still in his Godfather regalia. He tries to get her to talk to him about it. She admits that she’s afraid – she came back from Paris and San Francisco early out of loneliness, and is worried about repeating the same pattern. She can’t leave New York. Marshall points out that the difference between Minnesota and New York is pretty huge too. Lily asks how they’re going to overcome the language barrier, since Marshall only knows one sentence (which is pretty hilariously translated, if you ask me. The stoner phrase is “Come on, bro. Don’t Bogart the funionsâ€, only Bogart becomes Mastroianni in translation. Clever, clever, HIMYM). Marshall tells her, by repeating the same Italian sentence over and over and using subtitles  that he only knows one sentence, but he is sure that at least she will always understand him. He’s scared, too – but sometimes risks have to be taken. They’ve decided. It’s a beautiful moment.

Barney returns to his apartment. Robin is curled up on the couch, clad in an enormous puffy coat. He’s thrilled. She’s hot – in both senses of the word. Barney reaches for the thermostat. End credits.

This episode was oddly reminiscent of the early seasons, especially during the Marshall-Lily storyline, which made a nice change. Its use of clever tricks like the fake subtitles worked really well. The Barney/Robin/Ted story was considerably weaker, though it allowed for that nice setup of potential conflict between Ted and Barney in a way that seemed not so repetitive. There were some good jokes and heartfelt moments of friendship, which is really the heart of the show. Season Eight isn’t completely stale, guys, even if it doesn’t quite have the quality of, say, Seasons One and Two. This episode is not perfect, but it is emblematic of the show’s appeal and was a nice reminder for all those HIMYM viewers who might be getting a little jaded. It started off in a predictable manner, then grew into a nice little story, and that is a great thing to see. I hope it doesn’t indicate that we’re losing Hannigan and Segel, though I don’t think a show with just the Ted/Barney/Robin angle would be horrendous either. I guess all one has to say to that is che sera, sera and hope for the best – whatever form that takes.

 FJ Discussion Thread


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