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'How I Met Your Mother': Thankful for slaps

November 23, 2009 | 10:07 pm
98632_D0337b “Slapsgiving 2: Return of the Slap” started off sweet by showing the true meaning of friendship: Driving to the port authority to pick up the perfect turkey your friend left behind in a taxicab. Marshall (Jason Segel) is so touched by Robin (Cobie Smulders) and Ted's (Josh Radnor) gesture that he bequeaths to them the fourth slap against Barney (Neil Patrick Harris). There are some caveats, however. The slap has to be administered by sundown so as not to interfere with Lily's dinner. Barney will be tied to a chair known as the slapping thrown. Ted and Robin must decide amongst themselves who will administer the slap.

While Ted and Robin bicker over who will slap Barney, Marshall and Lily (Alyson Hannigan) have it out in the bedroom. And I don't mean that in a fun way. Marshall has invited Lily's estranged father Mickey (Chris Elliott) over for Thanksgiving and Lily's far from happy. It turns out Lily's dad spent much of her childhood in a room trying to create the next great board game instead of at Lily's recitals and art shows. Some of his failed attempts: Tijuana Slumlord, Car Battery and There's a Clown Demon Under the Bed. The first two sound like true stories. The last one makes me want to call the Winchester brothers. Mickey shows up at Marshall and Lily's Thanksgiving dinner bearing a new game.

“Hey, princess. I brought Diseases,” he says. “The fun's infectious.”

But Mickey's crimes are greater than horrible slogans and being an absentee father. His lack of a job forced him to move into his parents' house, sending Lily's retired grandfather back to work. How crazy was it that Lily's grandma (Christina Pickles) was played by Monica's mother from “Friends”? She looked closer in age to Elliott than the actor playing her husband. IMDB says she was born in 1935, so whatever she's doing, it's working.
After that, Lily gave her dad the “you're dead to me” look, which was very reminiscent of Hannigan's evil Willow on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” In fact, I can't decide what's worse, the way Lily's “you're dead to me” look makes people vaporize or the way evil Willow skinned Warren alive.

Lily claims that Marshall doesn't understand because his family is so close. They have a family dinner every Sunday, with Marshall participating via laptop. During grace, Marshall even holds two creepy mannequin hands to form a circle around the table. Marshall suggests they invite Mickey to dinner and just give him some dark meat. That totally is the lesser meat. Lily storms out, but eventually comes around when she finds out that one of the recipients of her “you're dead to me” look is actually dead and she can't make up with him.

Meanwhile, Ted and Robin can't decide who should give Barney his gift. Robin says Ted should do it because he's come a long way from getting stood up at the aisle and losing his job. But he can't do it and gives it to Robin because a part of her must want to slap Barney after their breakup. I know I kind of wanted to after his blatant boasting right in front of her in “The Playbook.” Plus, Robin has “never slapped Barney ... above the waist.”

But she can't do it either. She offers to the slap to Mickey to welcome him to the family. You can see Barney's fear shoot up as the grown man approaches, but what do you know. He can't do it either and gives the slap to Lily to replace the wedding present he never gave her. As much as a slap from Mickey might have hurt, I think one from Lily would have been worse. She looks tiny, but I bet she's strong. We'll never know, though, because Barney is saved from Lily's powerful, little hands. She doesn't have it in her either.

Marshall explains that the slap did what it was supposed to do, which was bring them all together, and then just as Barney gets up and relaxes, Marshall slaps him hard for the fourth time. And for that, I am thankful this Slapsgiving.

Do you think the right person slapped Barney? Are you wondering if the awesome Slap Bet tag at the end of the episode means the game really exists in the “HIMYM” universe? If it does, I suppose that means the gang gave Lily's dad his big break. I noticed that it said for ages 9 to 99. I guess you should stop slapping your great grandma when she turns 100. And where is Lily's mom, who worked two jobs to support Mickey's board game habit? Better yet, who should play her?

– Vlada Gelman (follow my TV musings on Twitter at @stayingin)


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Photo: Lily (Alyson Hannigan) and her dad (Chris Elliott) make peace on Thanksgiving. Credit: Monty Brinton / CBS