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Worldly Distractions: How I Met Your Mother Recap - 8.20 - The Time Travelers




Spacesuits and singing and Ted, oh my!
Spacesuits and singing and Ted, oh my!

Hello, readers, and welcome to Worldly Distractions! Here we will recap some of the not-so-Godly diversions that television has to offer. Special notation will be taken when its content happens to coincide with FJ themes, but series of all types will be covered. Let’s begin with our very first recap, arriving at How I Met Your Mother’s penultimate season. Spoilers abound.

Okay, so we can acknowledge this show has been off its game for a while, right? I still don’t know how they’re going to stretch it into Season 9 (and yes, Season 9 has been confirmed). Regardless, Season 8 has had some fun episodes so far, and there’s no reason to think that this one won’t be interesting.

We begin with more Bob Saget voice-over, this time filled with Mother clues! She lives near Ted, she’s getting a degree in economics and dating some financial bigshot, she’s not a barfly like Ted and his friends. At this point I’m wondering if she’s going to be too perfect to be fulfilled by any one actress. Whoever plays her is going to have big shoes to fill – and we know we have to meet her by the season finale at the latest, since she attends Barney and Robin’s wedding. Still, it’s fun to get details like this, even if I do think it will fill in too many blanks.

This leads us into MacLaren’s, where Barney invites Ted out to - Wait, this is another episode dealing with Robots vs Wrestlers? We were done with that a few seasons ago. Perhaps viewers will finally get a chance to see it? Anyway, Ted turns him down, which prompts Barney to discuss how “Twenty Years From Now Barney†calls the shots – ie, he leads his life in a way that will seem awesome twenty years down the line. In this case, it means he can sit in a Jacuzzi tell his four future wives (oh?) about how Robots vs Wrestlers was the greatest thing ever and Ted almost missed it.

Side note. Despite Barney retaining his perverted ways, it’s kind of dull to see the two couples plus Ted all the time. Between the new baby and the Swarkles engagement, we’re a bit too deep into the domesticity pit. Writers, feel free to throw a wrench into the works.

Prompted by Barney, Ted closes his eyes and is face to face with Twenty Years From Now Barney, who is wearing some kind of shiny motorcycle space suit, but otherwise looks pretty much like Current Barney. Interesting gimmick...and here come the opening credits.

So we’re back with Ted, Barney and Twenty Years Barney, who is horrified that Ted doesn’t want to see Robots vs Wrestlers. Twenty Years From Now Ted, also clad in a motorcycle spacesuit, is brought in to convince him. Seriously, guys, you couldn’t make even a tiny bit of effort to age them? Put a couple of gray hairs on Ted or something. Okay, first storyline is a total gimmick. Will it be successful? That will be answered after we cut to the Robin/Marshall/Lily storyline, which appears to be a fight about Marshall’s drink (“Minnesota Tidal Waveâ€) vs the “Robin Scherbatskyâ€, named after the drink Robin has been ordering for weeks. Yes, they hope to get an entire plotline out of this. Yes, I’m confused too. Marshall appears outraged.

Meanwhile, with Barney, Ted and the future versions, we get a few jokes about Ted’s perpetual singlehood before they decide to leave for Robots vs Wrestlers. However, they are interrupted...by a rumpled and pissed-off Twenty Hours From Now Ted. The trip is in danger!

Waaaaait a minute... is this a bottle episode?

Apparently Robots vs Wrestlers is going to result in great intoxication and a bunch of injuries, causing Twenty Hours Ted to come back and slap Current Ted upside the head for his stupidity. More debate ensues. Finally it’s agreed that Ted will go but not get wasted, which Twenty Years Barney vehemently protests because Sober Ted would never kiss a female robot. Twenty Years Ted attempts to mediate, the Barneys screech about it, Twenty Years Barney insists that it’s necessary. Back to square one.

Marshall is still angry about the “Robin Scherbatskyâ€, and claims Robin is “Zuckerbergering†him (ooh, reference to The Social Network, how timely). The name will be settled in court...a dance court. Yep, Marshall and Robin are having a dance-off – until the idea is quashed by Lily. Marshall appears to give in, but instead writes Robin’s name in the men’s washroom. Charming. Robin writes a retort in the ladies’ room, and after a brief debate about the double standard about men in women’s washrooms vs women in men’s washrooms, Marshall is coaxed into checking it out. Rather than an insult, it appear to be some kind of weird confessional about how Baby Robin was treated like a cat and had to crap in a litter box – yep, this storyline’s going nowhere, let’s check back in with the Teds and Barneys.

Current Ted has decided to go to Robots vs Wrestlers, until they are joined by Twenty Minutes From Now Barney. Who has a stain on his shirt. From a meatball.

Still in the women’s bathroom, Marshall is moved to tears by Robin’s cat crap confession, at least until she ends by mentioning that she wrote it specifically to trap him in the stall when a lady came in. Foiled by Midwestern good manners!

Twenty Minutes From Now Barney, who has since become Twenty Seconds From Now Barney (okay, completely pointless), is here to tell them to “Watch that door!†Twenty Years Barney and Current Barney exchange some barbs. In walks a beautiful strawberry blonde. Turns out she’s the coat check girl from a club seven years ago (Glee’s Jayma Mays, who appeared in 1.05, “Okay Awesome†– AKA the episode where Barney grinds with his cousin). Ted thinks he has a shot with her. All the guys urge him on.

In order to get out of the stall, Marshall puts on a Mrs. Doubtfire voice. Thinking the coast is clear, he steps out, scaring a bunch of women. He has his freedom, but embarrasses himself in front of the entire bar, prompting the bartender to call creepy behaviour a “Marshall Eriksenâ€. And the drink still has Robin’s name. Point Scherbatsky.

Ted goes to hit on Coat Check Girl, but is stopped by Twenty Months Coat Check Girl – that is, the two different versions of her. One is clingy to the point where he’s sick of her, and the other is dismissive and sick of him. Either way, the relationship has an expiry date. Ted lets her go.

So, Ted is lonely, Barney’s anxious to go out, Marshall and Robin are still fighting. All seems lost when Lily fiddles with the jukebox and prompts a dance-off. Ted says he’s going home. Barney tells him that the drink-naming incident happened five years before, and everything else never happened and WHAT?! Seriously, writers? That was pulled right from your asses! I know Ted’s unreliable narration can be fun to play with, but – what?! Instead, Marshall and Lily are on baby duty, Robin and Barney are wedding planning, and Ted is at the bar living a generally sad life. No one can go to Robots vs Wrestlers. Ted is all alone, and the writers have managed to sneak another bottle episode past us. Well played.

Bob Saget comes back and tells the kids how Ted would have spent his evening, playing with baby Marvin, watching Barney and Robin fight over the wedding. But first, he leaves MacLaren’s – and talks to the Mother (or rather, just her hand) at her apartment. He tells her all about their future life. We’re finally given a specific timeline. 45 days and counting until Ted meets the Mother! It’s very romantic, at least until the Mother’s boyfriend shows up and gives Ted a punch in the face.

We close with Ted, standing on the sidewalk in front of the bar looking sad. He turns and leaves. Wow, that was depressing. And weird.

Cut to Twenty Years Barney leading the Current and Future Teds and Barneys in a barbershop rendition of “The Longest Timeâ€. I’m always up for a few minutes of NPH’s singing voice. And so we end one of the most bizarre – but oddly heartwarming – episodes of the season. I’m not quite sure what to think of it. The writers brought out a real Ass Pull on us, but the unexpected twist is something How I Met Your Mother specializes in. Overall, I think it could have been much better with a simpler plot and a less abrupt mention of the twist – and the Robin/Marshall storyline was ridiculous, all in Ted’s head or not. The coat check girl’s cameo was also fairly pointless. Mostly I just want them to hurry up and bring in the mother, if only to keep Ted’s kids from starving to death after eight years.

Join me for Modern Family on Wednesday, but until then, keep it legen – wait for it...


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