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Worldly Distractions: How I Met Your Mother 8.23 - Something Old





As we approach the end of this season, we also get closer to The Wedding. Barney and Robin are finally tying the knot. With “Something Old†and “Something Newâ€, the final episodes of Season 8, we mirror Season 2’s “Something Borrowed†and “Something Blue†for Lily and Marshall – and get one step closer to Ted’s inevitable meeting with The Mother.

We flash back to 1994, where Robin and her dad take a “father-son trip†to New York. Strolling through Central Park, she comments that she almost died on last year’s wolf hunt. Dad is not sympathetic. He hates New York, seeing it as “Edmonton without the arts and cultureâ€. While he goes ahead, Robin takes the opportunity to bury a locket in the ground. All the while she recites her dreams for her future in this city with the perfect man, complete with a full description of his mullet. This locket will be her “something old†on that far-off day. In 2013, Robin and her father have returned to the park, where the necklace has been waiting for nineteen years. Robin remarks that she’s glad to no longer have to hide her femininity from her father. Robin Sr. responds by taking a call from Barney where he addresses him as “sonâ€. Ouch. Barney (AKA “B-Dawgâ€) has invited his father-in-law for the greatest game of laser tag ever. Robin covers her true feelings and tells him to go. She can find her “something old†on her own.

Meanwhile, Lily and Marshall are getting ready to move to Rome. They find it sad to see their apartment packed up. As do we, guys, as do we. Marshall says it’s an excuse to throw out all the crap they never got rid of – only they cling to items of dubious value. We’ve all been there, right? To settle their argument, they bring in Ted, who uses it as an excuse to look cool and fails miserably. It takes 12 minutes to get started – but Ted does it. Opening credits.

Ted characterizes himself as a “packing legendâ€, complete with epic tales no one wants to hear, like the time he travelled all over Spain with only a fanny pack – which he insists isn’t actually a fanny pack. Impatient, Marshall and Lily beg for his help. Ted agrees, but he has an interview for a new design at three, so they have to make it snappy. All discard items will go in the “Bermuda Triangle†– a section of the curb that has the power to make anything disappear. Damn, I wish I had one of those a few weeks back. He brings out the golden rule – “Have you used it in the last year?†And so they proceed, albeit with a few bumps along the way.

Just as Robin Sr. delights in finally having a son, Barney delights in having someone to call Dad. Robin Sr. is extraordinarily talented at laser tag, paving the way for a great relationship. Everything’s going great. Together they destroy the competition.

Voice-Over Ted admits he may have overreached a bit in his throwing-out blitz, tossing beloved items with abandon. However, at a stained and leaky old beanbag chair, he balks. Too many memories are associated with this filthy piece of furniture. Cue some Berlusconi jokes. Marshall and Lily accuse him of favouring the things he likes against those they like. A flashback to a Destiny’s Child karaoke session occurs, with Ted as Beyonce. The packing problem remains unresolved.

Barney and Robin Sr. are still enjoying themselves at laser tag. However, they quickly get into an argument about who will be point guy (and Barney proves he can’t name more than one hockey player – BOO!). In a rage, Robin Sr. quits the team. Barney adamantly declares that he is a stubborn bastard, to which Robin Sr. replies that he’d better get used to it, because he’s marrying a Scherbatsky. No way, says Barney – Robin’s not that stubborn at all. Cut to Robin digging what looks like her dozenth pit in Central Park, looking for her lost locket. Filthy and attracting the attention of onlookers, she is still determined. Attagirl.

Marshall protests that the beanbag chair hasn’t been used in a decade. Ted says he’ll give in...but sits on it so they can claim it’s used. He claims it will feel like home, and finally Marshall and Lily say that they could use it, and a couple of Ted’s “hands-free belt satchels†too. While Ted is off getting them, they have the chance to slip the beanbag chair out to the triangle.

Barney gathers a small army of preteen boys for the war against his father-in-law. Giving them an inspirational speech, he rallies them together with one rule – for every three 10s you bag, throw a bone to a 5. Robin Sr. gathers his own army on the other side of the room. It’s on, and I get the feeling a great deal more than laser tag is at stake. Barney asks that they leave “Oldie†for him. Uh-oh.

Just as Ted returns with the fanny packs, it suddenly occurs to him why he was sent on the errand. He gets there just as Lily and Marshall are setting the beanbag chair on the curb. Ted, Ted, you really need some hobbies! He lunges and lands on the chair, and cries that he knows of Lily and Marshall’s plan. He vows to stay on the chair until they decide to keep it. Why was this so important again? Marshall points out that he has a job interview in half an hour. Uh-oh. The decision is simple, though – he will skip it. Damn, someone needs to meet the Mother, and soon.

Robin continues to dig up the Park, getting filthier and more frustrated by the minute. She calls Barney in despair. Unfortunately, her fiancé is in the middle of the game and asks if whatever she wants can be put off. Feeling that her “something old†is pointless, she backs off. Barney pulls off a spectacular hit – and has to ask some preteens to help him from his perch. Weak.

Lily and Marshall plead with Ted to give up the beanbag chair. They suggest that he take it himself, but he insists that it must go with Lily and Marshall. It’s the first thing they bought in New York, and he feels like throwing that out will be like throwing him out as they take this enormous step. Marshall and Lily assure him that that could never happen, though Ted warns them that things can change (though since they’re still “Uncle Marshall†and “Aunt Lily†in the voiceover I think it’s safe to assume they won’t). He asks for a moment with the chair. They acquiesce, while Ted narrates about how they can’t cling to the past. 2013 Ted leaves the chair, turns around and finds it gone. Aaand Jason Segel and Allyson Hannigan are gotten rid of (if my hunch is right).

As Ted returns home, he gets a phone call from Robin asking for help. He tells her he has a meeting, to which she again brushes off the task’s significance. (Side note: I’m willing to bet Robin Sr. is thrilled that Robin isn’t marrying Ted!)

Robin Sr. addresses his army of preteen “cockroachesâ€, gearing them up for the final confrontation. It’s now or never, to the point where one of the kids is called to sacrifice himself for possible cannibalism. The kids think Barney’s team, with promises of “candy for all!†and some sneaky cigars, sounds way more fun. Still, Robin Sr. persists. The team defects faster than a Soviet chess player.

Robin sits in the grass, about to give up, when who should walk in but Ted. We all saw it coming – there is no one more loyal – but it’s still very sweet. Tears form in her eyes. He explains that he understood that “nah, it’s stupid†means “it’s important†when Robin says it. He’s here to help, and though she is touched, she is also amazed that her father and fiancé couldn’t skip laser tag, but Ted could forfeit a “nah, it’s stupid†meeting. If Ted can sense this and Barney can’t, she wonders what’s up.

Meanwhile, the Barney-Robin Sr. battle has come down to the final confrontation. The two leaders face each other. Barney has swiped Robin Sr.’s batteries, leaving him defenceless. Dun dun DUN.

Robin finishes telling Ted the story. He remarks that it’s sweet to think of unsentimental Robin Scherbatsky wanting “something old†at her wedding. They argue over which one of them is a girl. Just then, Robin finds it! As soon as she unearths it, however, she admits that she has doubts over marrying Barney. Sure, he’s grown up quite a bit...

...cut to Barney threatening to shoot her father with a laser tag gun, giggling like a maniac...

...but she’s concerned about whether he’s ready. Or, for that matter, whether she is. All along, she has taken the locket as a sign of whether it will work – if it’s there, then the universe wants them to marry. Hey, I’ve heard sillier. To his credit, Ted does not laugh at this. Robin opens the box...and the locket isn’t there.

“Any last words?†Barney asks Robin Sr. In fact, Robin Sr. does have some. Seeing Barney’s ruthlessness in battle has convinced him that he is the ideal son-in-law – or even son. “Shoot me already,†he says. Barney suggests that they could keep playing, but Robin Sr. thinks it’s stupid. Barney calls his team to witness the execution – and he and Robin Sr. turn on the young soldiers. Progress!

Just as Robin is about to dissolve over the locket, Ted gets a picture text from Marshall and Lily. They stand next to the beanbag chair holding up a sign that says “Italyâ€. He texts back “I love you guys... but lose that piece of crap chair.†They breathe a sigh of relief, salvage the kinky sex costume Ted threw out, and run off to use it.

Robin is back on her “sign from the universe†thing, saying that the locket’s absence totally means something. Ted reassures her that it doesn’t, but she will not be convinced. He points out that their roles are reversed – usually he looks to fate and she is the skeptic. The universe is not sending her a sign. Just then, a thundershower breaks out. Ted tries to pawn it off on science while Robin cries. Heh, rain. Remember the Season 1 rain dance? Using one last attempt, he says that maybe it’s silly to look for signs from the universe, that maybe it’s concerned with greater things. He points out that following perceived signs hasn’t helped him much. Maybe there isn’t meaning in every little thing. He suggests that we really know what we want without the universe’s help. Robin takes his hand. She accepts this, as flimsy as it is. The rain clears.

Wow, this went to some dark places (though we know how it will end). The Lily-Marshall storyline started off well but ended up being kind of...stupid. Flanderization is a problem in most long-running sitcoms, but it is especially bad with Ted. At this point I can’t understand why they would be friends with him. What could have been funny and poignant was wasted on Ted’s whining. However, his moments at the end with Robin are excellent. This show always does well when it focuses on the Robin-Ted friendship, and it’s a treat to see it even as her marriage approaches. The payoff of Robin finding her necklace was genuinely rewarding. The Robin Sr./Barney war was amusing, if not quite as funny as Community’s Changlourious Basterds. Overall, I look forward to the next (and final) episode of this season – and hope that it will bring to mind some of the themes it touched on tonight which make How I Met Your Mother so memorable.

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