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Worldly Distractions: How I Met Your Mother 9.10 - Mom and Dad





We're back, still in Farhampton, still at the wedding-that-never-ends. This episode, I assume, will revolve around Barney's desperate need to scratch his nose, and that time Lily tripped over the phone cord and promptly got up again. Nonetheless, I am here to recap, and recap I will.

So remember how Robin and Barney's minister died? No, because that happened like three weeks ago and they haven't mentioned it since? Well, the old bastard keeled over, and Barney and Robin have apparently done nothing to find a replacement in the three episodes/twelve-ish hours since. Barney's qualified to marry people, or at least was back in Season 2, but he can't marry himself! Though you know he totally would.

We have 27 hours left, and the hunt is on. So far, it isn't turning up any decent prospects. Fortunately, James turns up at that moment with his father - you know, the guy we saw for one scene about four or five seasons ago - who happens to be a minister. Reverend Gibbs is happy to take on the job, and the wedding is back on track. A series of joyous hugs follows, with the Reverend as well as Barney's long-lost dad Jerome, who has just arrived (and the audience appreciates the return of John Lithgow in the role). Everyone waits nervously to see how Jerry and Loretta will handle being in the same room together, having had little to no contact since he dumped her decades back. Surprisingly, they shake hands and seem just fine. Robin's happy to skip the drama - but Barney is convinced this means his parents are in love and will get back together. I guess he didn't notice that his stepmother's at the wedding, too? Opening credits.

Barney gives Ted a signed photo of Wayne Gretzky, which he tasks him with hiding until the wedding. Apparently, it's a gift for his bride, who likes to call out Gretzky's name in bed. He then runs off to help reunite his parents. Lily wonders if they should intervene. Ted says he'll stick with Gretzky for now.

Marshall and Daphne sing The Proclaimers across several states. They seem to be getting along fairly well, all things considered. For now.

Barney tells Robin how thrilled he is about his parents' reunion. It may seem awfully childish to the viewer, but you know what, I'm buying this. Barney has always had a childish streak, especially when it comes to matters involving his parents, so yes, I could see him going crazy over an imagined reconciliation. It's up to Robin to set him straight. She sits him down and reminds him that his dad is married, to which Barney responds that marriage is just a piece of paper. PERFECT timing, buddy. Fortunately, Robin is used to his bullshit by now, so she gently tells him that his parents aren't going to get back together and he'd better not have some scheme going. Cue the "uh-oh" look from Barney.

We see that he's maneuvered his parents into the elevator together, having texted them both to meet him urgently and placed a sign on the stairs saying they're "wet - no, broken". Just as they realize that something's up, the elevator gets stuck. Meanwhile, Barney's stepmother is being whisked off to the beach by Ranjit, thinking that her husband invited her to go parasailing.

Marshall puts on "500 Miles" for the millionth time, enraging Daphne. Honestly, by this point I'd be pretty pissed, too. That song gets stuck in your head so fast.

Barney assures his parents that help is in the way, and in the meantime he'll make sure they're comfortable - with a romantic dinner, some whine, and the soothing voice of Barry White. They immediately know what's going on, especially when the stack of condoms appear. Jerry yells up at him to stop, but Barney isn't getting the message. In fact, he pours water on them so they can disrobe faster. It goes from Lindsay-Lohan-In-The-Parent-Trap to Buffalo-Bill-in-Silence-of-the-Lambs extremely quickly. Creepy, Barney, creepy.

Ted discovers something terrible in his room - his calligraphy ink has spilled all over the Gretzky photo! He brings out Detective Mosby, his alter-ego, to solve the case. Lily makes it clear that everyone hates Detective Mosby. We get a film-noir flashback to his greatest unsolved case, the eight-year-old Pineapple incident, to prove her point. No matter. Gretzky must be avenged.

The suspects are as follows: Billy Zabka, Robin's cousin Claude from Quebec, and a shifty-eyed bellhop. Silent-movie intrigue music plays. Lily still thinks it's all stupid. She suggests ink remover. Ted isn't listening. He assumes that Zabka was angry that Ted usurped him as best man. Time for an investigation.

Barney is harassing an overworked desk clerk to bring him more romantic paraphernalia, just as his exhausted, shell-shocked parents are ushered into the lobby by a concerned James. (The 1970's porn alone practically killed Jerry.) Loretta and Jerry rush upstairs to get away from their son while Barney yells at James for ruining his plan. James rightly tells him to STFU, and stop being delusional - because if Loretta's getting back with anyone, it's his dad. Yeah, James lured his father there not only to do the wedding, but to pull off a Parent Trap of his own. Furthermore, Rev Gibbs is single. It's brother against brother in the War of the Dads.

To illustrate what Barney hopes the future will look like, we get an amazing musical number between Frances Conroy and John Lithgow, taking place in the 1950's suburbia known only to television shows. Jerry's wife is miraculously dead, Barney has a pinwheel hat and a lollipop and it's weird, and Robin lives with them too for some reason. I...love it but am a little scarred, not gonna lie.

James thinks it's weird, too. His musical number is way better, because his dad can play the saxophone. However, Barney hops in midway through to declare that Mom is cheating on Rev. Gibbs with Jerry. Cue John Lithgow decked out in leather like the Fonz and crowing about turning the Reverend into a cuckold. The dads and brothers get into a huge fight, bringing the musical number to an abrupt end. We cut back to reality, where Barney and James are slapping each other, each insisting that his dad would win in a fight. If this sounds weird and incomprehensible, that's for good reason. Robin walks in at that moment and remembers that she's marrying into this family.

Barney's stepmother is getting worried about this parasailing. She tries to call Jerry, but her cell phone is mysteriously dead (just after Ranjit pressed a convenient button). Okay, I know Barney is seriously unethical - but even he wouldn't try to have his dad's wife murdered, right? Right? Ranjit's evil grin is not exactly reassuring.

Ted interrogates Zabka, proving that he is no detective genius. His harebrained theory: Zabka has the real picture, ruining a fake so that he can slip in as best man at the last minute once Ted's carelessness is revealed. Zabka's story: he was getting a massage at the time. Since his name is registered, Ted's prime suspect is off the list. Next up: the bellhop.

Of course, the guy doesn't know what the hell Ted is talking about. Ted insists that it was the bellhop's revenge, since Ted complained about him to his supervisor. The bellhop had no idea the complaint even happened, and is deeply hurt. Immediately, Ted backs off.

He confronts Claude in the dining room. The guy is wearing a Canadiens shirt. Ted decides that this loyalty to the Habs automatically means that he hates Edmonton. (He also can't pronounce Montreal, either in English or in French. Seriously, Americans - it's not Mawntreal.) I would like to point out that, although regionalism is a big thing in Canada, especially when concerning hockey, one can support their hometown without resorting to wanton destruction. Those of you who, like me, lived in Vancouver in 2011 can STFU. We all know Surrey was responsible for that one.

Anyway, Ted rides this Habs-fans-hate-Edmonton theory all the way to the grand finish, where he reveals Claude's inkstained hand. Claude's excuse consists of a convoluted story involving a Rastafarian parasailer and a beached squid. Ted doesn't believe this, until he is driven to the beach and shown said extreme sportsman and cephalopod. He apologizes to Claude and continues with the search. I don't know, since he has the worst Quebecois accent I've ever heard, he might be a tad suspicious...

Marshall apologizes to Daphne for everything bad he's done during the trip, which does not prompt her to apologize for any of her bad behaviour. Finally, she reveals the true reason for her bad mood. She called her daughter and told her that she might not be able to make it, due to her precarious travel situation. Her daughter (who is, like, nine) told her not to bother coming. OUCH. Marshall can't help but feel sympathy for her. He offers to drop her at the Model UN conference, but she asks him to just take her home. My heart, it breaks.

After a huge fight, Barney and James agree to put their parent traps aside and call a truce. It's not a competition, after all - and then they walk in on Loretta smooching Rev. Gibbs, to which James exclaims "I WIN!"

Loretta explains that after James reconnected with his dad, they got back in touch, became friends and eventually more. James is thrilled to have his parents back together, but Barney is horrified, especially since Rev Gibbs (Sam) will be doing the wedding tomorrow. Sam, to his credit, is very sensitive to this and extends a fatherly hand, asking Barney if he's sure he's okay with this. Barney acknowledges that he's been behaving like a jerk all day, and just as you think he's about to say something profound - he flips the conversation in true Barney fashion by asking if his mom might consider a menage a trois with both dads. Sam, James and Loretta are all duly disgusted. Barney runs off in tears.

Ted's search has remained fruitless. Lily demands that he admit it was him who spilled the ink. Naturally, Ted immediately suspects her, even though she has no motivation to do it whatsoever. She also points out that while Ted was dicking around, she was at work with the ink remover. The picture is almost ready to go. Ted feels like an ass for a bit.

Meanwhile, Jerry tells some police officers that his wife has been missing all day, and has left some kind of suicide note that doesn't really sound like her. Okay, since when did Barney go from "self-absorbed" to "sociopath"? This is extraordinarily creepy and not at all the show I remember. Thumbs DOWN, guys, you took this way too far.

Lily cleans the picture for Ted. Unfortunately, as the image comes clear, she realizes it's not Gretzky, just as Ted learns that there was a problem with the massage centre's records. That's right, Zabka was the ink-spiller all along. To prevent the Zabka-tage, Lily and Ted chase him into the dining room. Lily gets there first, and pulls off a pretty successful tackle.

Marshall wakes up Daphne, who is surprised to find that they're at her daughter's school. At first she's angry at him, since her daughter clearly doesn't want her there. He echoes back her line: "Kids don't understand logic, kids understand who shows up." Is it just me, or is Jason Segel really phoning it in? Like, more than usual. So Daphne and Marshall go in to the presentation, the daughter is thrilled to see her mom, it all seems sappy as hell - until the daughter declares that "Oil is the future" and starts ranting about environmental sissies. Daphne couldn't be prouder. To his credit, Marshall keeps the smile on his face. Barely. He and Marvin leave Daphne behind just as the audience breaks into "Drill, baby, drill."

Barney complains to Robin about how unfair it is that James has his parents together. Robin points out that Barney has his mom, his friends, and soon a wife, while James is divorced and lonely. Not to mention Jerry has Cheryl, who makes him happy. (Cue Jerry reading from his wife's obviously fake suicide note. John Lithgow tears up the scene. Brilliant.) "Maybe he needs mom and dad more," she says.

Coerced by Ted, Billy Zabka reluctantly gives up the story of the Gretzky photo. We've heard it before because Ted already guessed it, so let's skip ahead. Billy tells them a tragic tale of how he was always ostracized by 80's audiences, since he was usually the bad guy, and had no friends or companionship until that magical day when Barney Stinson asked him to be best man. Awww. For the first time, someone thought he wasn't a bad guy. Except in trying to stay a good guy, he turned bad. Barney comes in at that moment, wondering what's going on. Ted tells Barney that he destroyed the photo, and if it wasn't for Billy's timely replacement, all would have been lost. Barney takes it well, congratulating Billy and forgiving Ted - though he can't resist punching the latter a little.

All the conflicts are patched up, Loretta is trapped in an elevator with the correct boyfriend (though it's awkward because James is in the elevator, too), and Cheryl has been saved from parasailing doom after Jerry jumped on Ranjit's car. So we leave our gang, for another hour, anyway.

Next episode: Wedding cake drama, and also the whole thing is apparently in rhyme. Dear God, I hope that's a joke.

So - this episode fell kind of flat. Barney's storyline could have been interesting but went way too far. Ted more or less had nothing to do. The Marshall/Daphne plot has gone on way too long, so it was nice to see it end, but something about it felt false. I was happy to see John Lithgow return, however. Maybe as we get closer to the finale, we'll have more of these early-show callbacks. After all, they can't go much further downhill!


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