Spoiler Alert: Do not read on if you have not yet seen Season 9, Episode 5 of CBS' "How I Met Your Mother," titled "The Poker Game."
"This road trip sucks!" Marshall says after Daphne refuses to make a pit stop in Chicago for good ol' Gazzolo's pizza. Funny, because we were just starting to think the same thing about the past few episodes.
Okay, we know those are harsh words. Fighting words, even. But since the season's strong two-episode opener, "How I Met Your Mother" has slipped into a pit of confusion and aimless wandering. Perhaps viewers are sick of the cutesy puns and pretending like traditions have been around for years when they pop up once. Perhaps we can forgive Carter Bays and Craig Thomas for pretending like Ted was jacked up on caffeine for the past few years. Maybe we can even look past the overuse of Wayne Brady (too much too late). But when it feels like literally nothing is happening on the show, it's hard to make it to the finish line.
We want the mother. That's why we're all still watching ... and we know "HIMYM" is a marathon, not a sprint. But sometimes we just want answers! Or at least answer -- just one will do for now.
But as of now, we're left with bupkis. Let's just get right to this week's snoozer.
We're (still) in Farhampton, of course, and Barney's poker game is (still) underway. Robin notes that James is still wearing his wedding ring, despite his impending divorce. Somehow Robin asking Barney to talk to James about dealing with his separation turns into a huge rift between Barney's family and his bride-to-be. The resulting turn of events makes little to no sense, and we can't help but wonder if the writers are trying to throw small curveballs at the couple, just to create random moments of tension that aren't earned.
At one point in the show, it was easy to feel for Barney. He was making real emotional progress and some of us rooted hard for him and Robin to get back together. But when he "commands" Robin and is at the will of his mother, it's hard to remember all the good that's come before. He just turns into an eyeroll-inducing caricature. Plus, why is James' divorce being drawn out sooooo much? We could speculate that this will all lead up to Barney getting cold feet before the nuptials, or vice versa, but at the pace this season is going, it feels like we may never find out, so what's the point in guessing?
During said poker game, Ted tells the group that he has three wedding presents for Robin and Barney, which angers Lily who thinks that he never got her and Marshall a wedding present. (Aside: is one of these presents Robin's locket? If so, where is it? What has he been doing with it for the past few episodes? Hurry up and deal with this locket, please.)
Now we enter flashbacks that include Marshall dropping not-so-subtle hints about Ted's lack of gift. But Ted thinks he got Marshall and Lily a high-end coffee maker and he drops hints about a missing thank you note. Turns out sleazeball friend Stuart pretended like he and his wife Claudia gifted the coffee maker, leaving both parties confused. Marshall deals with all of this from the comfort of that huge terrible car, but is comforted at the end of the episode by an on-the-road delivery from Gazzolo's. See, Ted really is the very best friend.
Now that everyone is settled far away from the city and the show's roots, it's easy to see what's lacking. We're spending our very long goodbye in an unfamiliar place. Scenes at McClaren's have been stunted and bits in the apartment have been fleeting. As it turns out, there's really not a lot for everyone to actually do at Farhampton Inn, aside from, well, meet the mother. But it looks like that will be dragged out for eternity so until then, we're stuck with puns, guest stars and the same outfits every episode.
We want more:
- "Thank you, Linus." (Seriously, Lily did not have one drink this episode.)
- PATRICE! (again)
- "Lick it before you stick it. It being the stamp."
- "Wrap it before your tap it. It being the gift."
- Cornrow and bronzed Barney who just returned from Brazil.
Moments we can do without:
- Jokes about sex, Robin and Barney's mom.
- Stinson family drama.
- Lily's random hairstyles throughout time.
"How I Met Your Mother" airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.
We still have high hopes for the season, but what did you think of this episode? Were we too harsh or do you agree? Leave your thoughts in the comments!