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Worldly Distractions: How I Met Your Mother 9.8 - The Lighthouse





What an appropriate title. Virginia Woolf's stream-of-consciousness prose paired with my stream-of-consciousness rambling. Somehow I think this episode and its recap will be a little less prestigious. Still existential torture, though.

33 hours before the wedding. WOW, that was quite the leap! My heart's pounding. Aren't we moving way too fast? Eleven whole hours. Ted tells the kids about Robin winning Loretta's shirt in poker, and Loretta's subsequent declaration of war against her daughter-in-law-to-be. Charming. We cut to the "present", where Barney pleads with his mother to back off. To him, "daughter-in-law" = "illegal not to treat her like your daughter". Hey, why aren't there laws like that? It would save a lot of bitching on Internet forums. Loretta reluctantly gives in - until Robin shows up bragging about her "new blouse". Opening credits.

Jerk Clerk is back at the front desk, counseling Ted not to go to the famous Farhampton lighthouse, because apparently it's too romantic and poor lonely single Ted will have no choice but to kill himself. Okay, that might be the most distasteful thing the show has said (at least in a while), and they've pulled some doozies. Ted is not having any of this, and gives his most pissed-off look, which still vaguely resembles a fish.

Lily is reeling from Marshall's startling news. Their trip to Italy is off thanks to his impending judgeship, which I'm sure you know because it took half the fucking season for Marshall to work up the courage to tell her. Ted recaps anyway in case we're stupid. So Lily is drunk and pissed, scaring everyone around her. She can't even hear the word "judge", in context or not. Linus the bartender comes back to keep the "Kennedy Special" going.

Marshall and Daphne have arrived in Cleveland, which has a "Birthplace of Ted Mosby" sign, or so Ted claims. They crash with Ted's mom and her highly touchy-feely and inappropriate boyfriend, Clint. It gets awkward, fast, especially when he wants to try "couples therapy" on the barely-acquaintances Marshall and Daphne - using only a guitar. They quickly flee, but Marshall takes some embarrassing relics of Ted's childhood first.

Lily is still angry and bitter, Robin and Loretta trade bitchery. This turns into an insult about Robin's liking for ketchup on scrambled eggs (how Canadian!), which continues into a discussion of how every musician in the 1970's was hot for Loretta's famous scrambled eggs. NOT HELPING, BARNEY. Robin calls ZZ Top "Zed Zed Top", which makes me fall in love with her too. It is so demoralizing to teach Russian kindergartners "Zee". Anyway, Robin maintains that her mom makes the best scrambled eggs. Cue horror from Barney and Loretta.

This segues into a long montage of all we know about Robin's mom, which is three inconsequential anecdotes. Certainly we've never met her, though Robin says she's coming any minute. Loretta taunts her, saying she's sure Robin's mom puts maple syrup on the eggs. Robin says yes, Canadians put maple syrup on everything and proceeds to pour it - yes - all over the blouse. Loretta flips out. Robin 1, Loretta 0. It's not the end, though, as Loretta calls for an omelette maker to prove her superiority once and for all.

Meanwhile, Lily's still bitter and it's a wonder she hasn't cut her hands to shreds with all the glasses she's smashed. She wanders out of the dining room, where Ted is still negotiating with Jerk Clerk for a map to the lighthouse. FFS, does no one have a smartphone? Lily asks what happened to Cassie, Ted's hookup from last night. Apparently, he's done with her after she cried all night. Smart move, though I doubt it will last long. Unfortunately, Lily is pissed off and ill-advisedly tells him to "just end up with her already". Ted is too picky (true), but really, Lily? To be fair, a flash-forward has her acknowledge the idiocy of this move.

So Ted invites Cassie to the lighthouse. No way this will go wrong.

Marshall is trying to get Daphne to play one of his convoluted road trip games, but she's vehemently against it. He wonders if maybe they should have some conflict revolution. Like the movie "Candyman", as soon as Marshall says it Clint pops out of the backseat, scaring the crap out of both of them.

Ted figures he'll settle for Cassie, but she's a boring drip with no personality whatsoever. Furthermore, fate seems to be sending them a clear message, as various mishaps keep occurring en route to the lighthouse. Ted's doubt grows.

Lily advises Barney to pretend the eggs are just okay for Robin's sake. However, the power of childhood breakfast nostalgia is too tempting to resist. Barney basically has a culinary orgasm. Robin's not please. Loretta's triumphant. Score: 1-1. Lily, too, is overcome with egg glory, and before long all the hotel guests are demanding a share.

Clint explains to Marshall and Daphne that he is just that devoted to his incredibly sketchy job, plus Ted's mom kicked him out for a few hours, and oh could he possibly get a ride back to Cleveland when this is done? Daphne suggests throwing him out, Marshall says it would be horrendously rude. Clint breaks out the guitar and launches into a song about "Marshall and his mistress."

Cassie has messed up her ankle in the mishap, but she insists that they continue. Hmm...could it be that Cassie has the exact same "settling" plan as Ted? What a shocking twist!

Robin places a quick phone call to her mom, in which the gang learns more about her than they did in the previous nine seasons. Loretta taunts her about her mom's not-so-delicious eggs. Robin claims that not only is her mom better at making scrambled eggs, but so is she. The guests happily proclaim a "scramble off!" and the contest is on.

Back in the car, Clint introduces some dubious exercises. They get talking, which results in more arguments and a horrible solo from Clint. Marvin starts to cry. Apparently, Clint's music makes the baby's bowels go into overdrive. Daphne and Marshal bond over the resulting toilet humor. Hey, whatever works, I guess. Unfortunately, Clint can't take being the butt of a joke (heh) and tries to attack them with his guitar.

Ted has had to carry Cassie all the way to the top of the fucking lighthouse. He's winded, she's clearly not interested in being there, and she turns to him and asks "So what do we do now, fall in love or something?" Ted - pukes, Roger-Sterling-after-too-many-oysters style. Charming.

Robin's plan isn't going too well, since she's searching for an "egg opener". Finally, she has to break down and admit that she can't cook eggs. Loretta snipes that she's worried about the kind of breakfast her grandchildren will get to eat. Oh, you did NOT just go there. (Quick recap of seasons 7-8: Robin is both childfree and infertile. Everyone knows this in the core gang.)

Tears in her eyes, Robin tells Loretta that she will never have to worry about that. She walks off, and Barney tells his mom that Robin can't have children, which is the first confirmation we have that he knows this. Loretta, for once, shuts up and looks remorseful.

Clint rants about his terrible working life up to now, most of which was his fault. He suddenly clutches his head and claims he's having a "blood attack". The cure? Meditation. Marshall is skeptical. Daphne is outraged.

Loretta is having an honest-to-God talk with her son about the kids issue. She thought he always wanted children, but he says no, he always LIKED children. Big difference. Thanks, HIMYM, for finally summing up what so many childfree people feel. Kids are great, but on a permanent basis? Nah. Loretta laments not having grandkids (um, James and family? Hello?). Barney tells the story of how he found out about Robin's infertility, which I should point out has not been on the show yet. We saw Robin finding out after a pregnancy scare, then her telling Lily, Marshall, Ted and her then-boyfriend as it became relevant. Glad they're addressing it. On to Barney.

Barney and Robin go on a date at an underground (literally) bar. On their way home, Barney makes her promise that if she has kids, she'll get a babysitter and go for an epic night. (They weren't engaged yet.) She immediately, bluntly, says "I can't have kids, so that's not an issue." Barney stops, right in the middle of the sidewalk, and hugs her without another word. That's it. Pure and simple support, without qualification. It's honestly pretty beautiful, and a moment happening entirely out of friendship - until it starts to rain, on which they both agree that it's weird.

Barney explains that he is marrying Robin, not the chance at a family, and though he may not have minded kids, Robin means more to him than any of that. With this said, he pleads to his mother to give his wife a chance. She nods, and that is that. For now.

Clint is still meditating after a ridiculous length of time, and Daphne insists they drag him away and move on. Marshall doesn't want to rock the boat. This launches Daphne into a speech about the "Marshalls" and "Daphnes" of the world, the former of which are always controlled by the latter. Daphne explains that Daphnes look out for themselves, while Marshalls are so laissez-faire that they wind up pushed around. Marshall will have to take a stand or never go forward. And so he does, driving on and leaving the aging hippie behind. If I didn't think a convenient van was going to come by and bring Clint home in, like, half an hour (hippie types always seem to get by), I'd be pretty pissed at Eriksen there. Hell, even Daphne's shocked - and delighted. When she tries to turn on some music, he tells her, with the most deadly quiet anger I have ever seen Jason Segel exhibit, that she "threw a live grenade" into his marriage and may have ruined his life, so it's his music now, dammit! It's The Proclaimers, of course. Daphne crumbles.

Lily comforts Robin over the Loretta incident, and suggests taking Robin's mom for something fun once she arrives, though she can't get past anything more specific than "avoiding jellyfish". Robin admits that her mother's not coming. She's scared of flying and never got on the plane, which would explain why she's never been to New York in the course of the series. This leaves Robin mom-less at her own wedding, which is some pretty tough shit to deal with. Just then, Loretta comes in, and Robin braces herself for some more battles. Lily tells Loretta to back the fuck off, since Robin just got this bad news about her mom. Without a word - just like her son did - Loretta steps forward and hugs Robin, who is surprised but accepts it.

"My name is Mom," Loretta tells her. "Don't you ever call me anything else, I'm Mom." Robin reluctantly calls her this. Loretta starts to apologize - and Robin suddenly hugs her back, and even compliments her eggs. Excuse me, someone's chopping onions in here.

Lily and Ted reflect on the doomed lighthouse trip, and agree it was a pretty rotten idea. However, Ted admits that he learned something up there. Seeing the beautiful Farhampton lighthouse was a great experience, but it was ruined by being with the wrong girl. Lily suggests he come back with the right girl. The trouble is, Ted says, he's never going to find her. We flash-forward to two years from now...only to see Ted and the Mother standing at the top of the lighthouse, looking out at the sea. The Mother wonders how you could ever improve on a wonderful day like this. We all know what's coming. Ted turns to her, takes out a ring box, and before he's even finished the question, she's said yes about five times. We zoom out to see the beautiful coastline and the two of them kissing at the lighthouse.

Meanwhile, Clint breaks out of his meditation and presumably has a few questions. I like to think it was two years later.

Hey, wait, Ted was supposed to have a kid three years after last season, during the Star Wars marathon. If it's been several months since then, and the kid is in existence within three years, wouldn't two be cutting it awfully close?

Nonetheless, I like that we're getting these flashforwards. We're not going to see Ted and The Mother's married life, especially with - oh, I don't know - HER ACTUALLY IN THEM, so we must catch whatever glimpses we can. I like to think it will all turn out ok in the end. Which really was the heart of this episode. The Robin-Loretta story started out kind of stupidly but led to two incredibly satisfying scenes. Lily's anger was a nice side touch, and Ted's plot tied in well without overwhelming the main conflict. I do think the Marshall-Daphne-Clint plot is guilty of this, however. Despite my complaints about this season's structure, I am enjoying the moments they manage to throw in. It's hard to believe we're going to say goodbye to these guys very, very soon.

Until then, though, I'll take more episodes like this one.

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