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Worldly Distractions: How I Met Your Mother 9.12 - The Rehearsal Dinner



blog-rehearsaldinner.jpgHOW I MET YOUR MOTHER


We're all going to die at the wedding, aren't we? I mean - that's what they're trying to do, isn't it? It's an insurance scam! I KNEW IT.

Saturday, 8 PM, 22 hours to go. Barney is handcuffed and with his fiancee (who is rocking the gold strapless, by the way) in a laser tag security office. He's in trouble for pushing a button, because apparently he has a childlike fascination with the action. Is there a button around? Well, Barney has to push it. Just to see what happens, of course. Robin's humiliated, because they're now late for the rehearsal dinner and Barney's about to get arrested. Barney still doesn't get it, so Robin has to demonstrate her "mad face". Nope, still doesn't sink in. Opening credits.

Barney claims he's being pushed to talk, though the guard would actually prefer he keep quiet. Never mind - Barney will instead tell one of his lame-ass origin stories. Several months back, he decided on a laser tag rehearsal dinner. We get a flashback. His friends veto it, citing his millions of other bad ideas, including a failed run for mayor. Robin reminds him that weddings are about compromise. Specifically, this means the time she requested a Canadian wedding. Plenty of Canada jokes follow (and for the record, I would totally register at Tim Horton's). Robin gets increasingly pissed off. I start to sniffle a bit. I MISS MY HOMELAND. Barney is bargained down to a nice tasteful rehearsal dinner, though Robin won't let him hold it at the famous restaurant "La Sertag".

This gives Ted an opportunity, and he offers to be their rehearsal dinner pianist - apparently he's been taking lessons. They reluctantly let him, but only if he promises to dress up like Liberace, which I guess explains all the crazy costumes in the promos.

Back in the security office, Barney recounts another Tragic Tale of Flashback, this one involving his bachelor party. We've all seen the episode, so I won't recap it except to say - hilarious and embarrassing series of mishaps, all upsetting Barney until he realizes it's a prank orchestrated by Robin, all to get him a better bachelor party. Of course, the only response to such an amazing experience is to pay it back - by telling Robin he wants to end the engagement, kicking her out of the apartment, and then revealing a suitcase full of puppies. His friends at MacLaren's, of course, think that's the most horrible thing ever. Barney doesn't care. He's still not sure why Robin made him promise to stop surprising her.

Marshall and Lily, Boring Married Couple Extraordinaire, tell him that "no surprises" is the best part of marriage. Barney somehow misreads this as "Robin is planning a surprise laser tag rehearsal dinner". Everyone insists that she's not, but Barney is eternally hopeful. Also, Ted's dressed like Liberace for some reason.

Barney then tells the story of Earlier Today. Robin sets up the dinner while Barney hints broadly about its fakeness. Everyone tries to let him down gently. He's not getting the message. Lily wonders why Barney's not asking her. Ted and Barney snicker, since everyone knows Lily can't keep a secret - if Robin had told her about a surprise laser tag rehearsal dinner, the whole wedding would have found out by now. Barney tries Marshall while Lily berates Ted, since she's kept the impending Chicago move a secret. Oh, yeah, half the viewers have probably forgotten since it was about eight episodes ago, but Ted is planning to move to Chicago after the wedding. No one knows but Lily, miraculously.

Ted takes the time to mention that Liberace is out (no, not that way - I mean his performance is out), due to Ted's general failure at the piano. In fact, he never touches the keys. Barney comes back with an elaborate plan for how his "laser tag surprise" will play out - they will run out of ice, and Barney will have to go buy some at the store next to the local lasertaggery, whereupon the dinner will be revealed. I'm getting tired of this back-and-forth already. Unfortunately, at that moment Robin comes in mumbling about the broken ice machine. When Barney hints at the plan, though, she's just confused. Clearly, this is not a ruse to make Barney's dreams come true. And I must mention - again - that I LOVE Robin's gold outfit.

Robin makes Barney promise he won't leave the circumstances. He promises, but promptly breaks it, as he heads off to the laser tag place (which is very far from anywhere selling ice, by the way). To the familiar strains of Edvard Grieg, Barney decides to sneakily check out his surprise-in-progress.

Ted tells Lily what he's been doing all these months instead of piano lessons - watching sports with a bored piano teacher. She's pretty pissed, especially since he's been using Marshall and Lily's apartment for that purpose. She even complains to Robin, who is...decidedly less upset about Ted bailing. Ted wonders why Lily is so upset over a lousy piano performance. We all know the real reason, but Lily is stuck, since she was sworn to secrecy. Robin is called away to deal with more wedding business, but before she can leave, Lily blurts out the story of Marshall and the judgeship. Ted and Robin are, of course, shocked.

Ted and Robin express their outrage over Marshall's outrage - in Ted's case, it's mostly based on Marshall borrowing and losing his Rosetta Stone. He bitches about Marshall in rotten Italian for her benefit. Robin comes back to reveal that Barney went to the laser tag place, and has been arrested for threatening to dunk the snack bar guy in nacho cheese.

At the security office, Robin insists that there is no surprise, while Barney points to increasingly tenuous clues. This causes Robin to worry about the future of their marriage, which "should be built on honesty and trust and all that Lily-and-Marshall crap". To be honest, I kind of agree with her.

When we rejoin Lily and Ted at the Farhampton, however, we find Lily bemoaning the same lack in her own marriage. Ted assures her that he will always be there - and that he knows she can keep a secret. She is mollified, but I am sure there's more drama to come. To prove his trust, Ted tells her a truly eye-popping secret. He then undercuts this trust by handing her a microphone. Lily stands up and tells the guests that there's been a change in plans...

Robin and Barney continue to argue. Finally, he stops her with a speech about honesty and trust and hiring actors to play security guards and buying fake laser tag signs, all while conveniently wiggling out of the handcuffs. He then confuses her further by handing her a pair of skates. Marriage, to him, he says, will always include surprises. Inexplicably, it begins to snow indoors. Barney asks her to put on the skates - they're going to the rehearsal dinner. At long last, he pushes the button.

The walls of the "office" lift away to reveal an ice rink, with all the wedding guests throwing confetti and waving Canadian flags. Since the wedding couldn't be in Canada, Barney explains, he brought Canada to the wedding. At this point, he also breaks out the famed Wayne Gretzky picture, courtesy of Ted and Billy Zabka. There is a performance by Alan Thicke - an old friend of Robin's from her pop star days - and a figure skater. James Stinson and his horrible half-drag act also manage to get in. Robin is overcome and forgives everything, as usual.

Okay, one question- what bride is that patriotic? Seriously. If someone draped their rehearsal dinner in flags like this, it would come off as spectacularly creepy. Ah well, sitcom logic, sitcom logic.

Lily thanks Ted for trusting her with the secret, and he decides to tell her one more - all the time that he was pretending to take piano, he was actually learning how to figure skate. So he takes off, Liberace costume and all, as Lily rolls her eyes. He promptly falls flat on his face. Best rehearsal dinner ever.

Tag scene - okay, I really love this one. Robin comments that she thought Barney hated Canada, to which he says he LOVES it. To prove his point, Dr. Frederick Banting, creator of insulin therapy for diabetes and one of my nations most beloved heroes, skates up! (Okay, it's an actor - he died in 1941.) He explains his contribution to history while cheerful ragtime music plays. He's followed by Norman Breakey (also dead in the early 1940's), who invented the paint roller. Next comes Alan Thicke, who's happy to see Robin again. No mention of the other Robin, his son of "Blurred Lines" fame. Finally, we meet Louise Poirier, inventor of the Wonderbra, who gets a little bit too flirty with Barney. To finish it off, Barney recites another long list of Canadian achievements and celebrities. Oh, Canadian factoids, I'm always glad to see you. They chose well, too, staying away from the obvious. I didn't know half this stuff, and Canadian children are generally drilled from birth with our nation's every accomplishment. Sure, it's a weird little tag, but I love it - perhaps they included this just to butter up a grumpy reviewer on an obscure website? Nahhh!

To close out the episode, Barney concludes that the best thing Canada made is his bride. He and Robin kiss, just as Ted skates by in costume while playing a grand piano...

I found this episode rather forgettable, which is how I've been finding much of the season so far (except for the parts that are outright stupid). The endless flashbacks wore out fast. Though you could see a surprise coming a mile away, I did think the actual event was unexpected (if rather hokey). Still, it was fun enough. One more episode before the Christmas hiatus...


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