By this point, they should change the show's title toÂ That Stupid Wedding Which Somehow Managed to Take Eight Months.Â Ted's kids have probably lobotomized themselves by now. Well, if they air it, we will watch, so let's go.
We open with the kids, who are still trapped on the couch. 42.5 hours to go. Ted recaps the whole Lily-and-Marshall-go-to-Italy saga, right up to Daphne texting Lily about Marshall's judgeship. He's furious, of course, but Daphne just gloats over getting to hear his inevitable groveling. He picks up his phone to an angry Lily - but she's not mad about the judgeship. No, she's mad about getting left alone in a hotel all weekend. A hotel with aÂ ghost.Â Huh? This is the Halloween episode? Anyway, they're in room 13 (which most hotels don't even have!), and it's haunted by the famous ghost of Captain Somethingorother. Marshall is thrilled. Opening credits.
Ted explains that about a month ago, Marshall saw a very low-quality ghost story on TV which featured Farhampton Inn. A long-ago captain named Dearduff ("Dearduff the Hooker") murdered a whole bunch of people with his hooks-for-hands, and he still haunts the room where he died to this day. Sure, it's possible he was just a prostitute who died of illness, but that doesn't stop Marshall from believing. The others are not convinced, however. Even Lily is dismissive, maintaining that it's just a bad room and the hotel uses the ghost as a cover.
Robin and Barney get into an argument of their own, because Barney's people are going to release doves after the ceremony, but Robin's family is going to fire a 21-gun salute, which will inevitably end in a bloody mess while O Canada is played. Yeah, Canadians don't do that (you...really are thinking of rural America there), but moving on. Barney proposes firing blanks, but Robin is aghast - that's not nearly good enough for a wedding! Jesus, Barney, get with the program.
Lily might not be as skeptical of the ghost as she thinks, because she lies awake all night tormented by horrendous visions. When someone comes in her window, it's too much and she turns the lights on - but it's only Ted. He of course has an explanation for his presence. Marshall called and asked him to delete the last text on Lily's phone. NO QUESTIONS ASKED. Ted owes Marshall (who once had to drill him out of a mailbox - no questions asked), so he has to comply.
Like a true friend, Ted takes the challenge, working out an elaborate plan in seconds and ignoring Marshall's repeated statements that the room's lock is broken. Rather than - I dunno - waiting until she goes to get ice or something, he climbs up the drainpipe like a character in a bad college sex movie. Ted stammers a response. Marshall has asked him toÂ checkÂ on Lily, to make sure she'sÂ safe.Â Lily insists she's fine, but then jumps at the next thunderclap. She hedges that maybe Ted could stay until she falls asleep. And if he could sing her Marvin's lullaby, maybe that would help?
Finally she falls asleep, but as Ted looks around for her phone, he hears a strange disembodied voice... "The hooker's here!" he cries. From the air vent, Barney insists that no, he'sÂ notÂ going to cheat on Robin, though he could go for a lap dance. And why is Barney hiding in Lily's room? Marshall also called in a NQA favor from him.
We go back to a few minutes ago, when Barney and Robin were arguing about guns vs doves. This of course snowballs into the larger issue - that they never consult each other before they make decisions. They just do what they want, when they want. It could be a real crisis. However, Barney is interrupted when Marshall calls. He asks Barney the same thing he asked of Ted, once again citing a NQA in the past. Barney thinks it was the time he crapped his pants at work, but no, it was actually the time Marshall had to sign him out of the hospital after he swallowed the "real" versions of the Lucky Charms (horseshoe, star, etc) on a bet. Damn, Marshall is everyone's bitch, isn't he?
Barney agrees, but like Ted, he ignores Marshall's tip that the door is unlocked, instead deciding to come in through the air ducts. Again without consulting Robin. Ted helps him out of the duct, which wakes up Lily, who is confused once again. Barney tries to come up with an excuse, but he's even worse at improvisation than Ted. Fortunately, someone arrives with room service at that moment. The only problem? Lily never ordered room service. And it's a $400 bill. She runs out in a huff to talk to the manager. Just guess who's under the tablecloth.
Yup, it's Robin, who got the same phone call and ignored the same key information from Marshall. Her NQA from the past? Something involving a bunch of people in multicolored spandex bodysuits. Even Marshall's still confused. That man isÂ suchÂ a mensch. The three intrepid would-be spies set out looking for the phone...
Meanwhile, Lily argues with the front desk. The clerk tries to charge her for all of her ghostly complaints, saying she caused the damage, plus ring her up for the room service. Lily's outraged, of course. And then we see the fatal flaw in Robin and Ted and Barney's plan - Lily took the phone with her. Yes, Virginia, in this technology-obsessed world we even sleep with out technology. To be fair, my smartphone is never more than a foot or so away from me at all times. Anyway, the gang sets out (complete with Robin in unitard) to get Lily's phone or die trying.
While this is happening, Barney and Robin somehow manage a conversation about making decisions together. Robin says they are lone wolves and can't possibly make a joint life. "You know, I bet even lone wolves can learn to work together," says Barney in what possibly qualifies as the Sweetest Thing Ever. NPH is perfect in his delivery. However, their talk soon gets increasingly predatory and weird. Let's skip to their secret agent-style plan. It involves hiding in air ducts and shooting guns and throwing doves and assorted other references to the episode. The dove will grab the phone and throw it to Robin while Lily's back is turned...
However, when they get to the lobby with their props, they find Ted calmly having a drink. He explains that Lily has long since returned to her room. He has taken care of the text business, and is enjoying a fine brandy - or at least, he enjoys it until one of the doves shits in it. Since his drink is ruined, he decides to explain his brilliant scheme instead. Lily calls Marshall so he can help her deal with the annoying clerk (say, why does the Farhampton only seem to employ the shittiest of clerks?), but decides to check her texts during the call. Just as she is about to do so, Ted comes in and commands her to stop. When she asks why, he flounders for a second, but then brilliantly commands her to destroy her phone - "no questions asked". Okay, there's loyalty and then there's just stupid. Lily falls into the latter category this episode, because she does it.
We also get a flashback to the NQA Lily owes Ted - the time he saved her from being taken hostage by a bunch of insane kindergartners. Oh, Lily my dear, I sympathizeÂ soÂ deeply. If only I had a friend like that in Moscow. Anyway. The phone is destroyed, the day is saved. Ted gloats that even though Marshall called him third (actually ninth), he solved the problem. On the phone to Marshall, Ted wonders why heÂ didn't call NQA, as they must have built up a few in their decades-long relationship.Â
Marshall proceeds to list the Tolstoy novel's worth of NQAs he owes Lily. There's the time he got friendly with a raccoon. The time(s) he tackled Russell Brand, believing he was Bigfoot. The time he made a robot out of the TV. Basically, Marshall can never ask Lily for a favor, ever. But he tells Ted that he neverÂ wanted to ask such a thing, since she's the love of his life. He knows what has to happen. It's time to come clean. He asks Ted to hand Lily the phone, and tells her about the judgeship that will torpedo their plans. Lily...does not take it well. Allyson Hannigan has the most vicious scary face. Marshall begins to fear for his life.
We get a tag scene of Ted sending a stupid, pretentious love letter to some chick he just met. He seals the envelope, drops it in - and instantly regrets it. He notices the mailbox door is open, and climbs in to get the letter. Just then, a postal worker comes by and locks in. Cue a NQA call to Marshall. End credits.
Well, despite some rather unbelievable adventures (by the show's standards)Â , I really did like this episode. In fact, I'd call it the strongest of the season. Lots of history between the gang, lots of weird adventures, and some great jokes, along with a couple of character moments to seal the deal. Is it the best of HIMYM? No. Not at all. But it's a great improvement on what we've seen so far in Season 9. And they did somehow manage to work in a Halloween theme. Tune in next week for some more...time trapped in a hotel. Oh boy.