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'How I Met Your Mother': Everybody hurts sometimes, even Robin

March 8, 2010 |  9:18 pm
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I think it's time for an intervention. Marshall (Jason Segel), Lily (Alyson Hannigan), Robin (Cobie Smulders), Ted (Josh Radnor) and Barney (Neil Patrick Harris), please get the sign out. It's time to give the stunt casting a break. Last week, we had “American Idol” vet Carrie Underwood. This week, Jennifer Lopez guest starred as self-help author Anita. The show's stunt casting has never been outright bad. Most of the time, the actors are charming and well suited to their roles. It could certainly be a lot worse. I caught a rerun of “Beverly Hills, 90210” recently in which Olympic Gold medalist Kerri Strug made a cameo. Her acting was as painful as the injury she sustained when performing that winning vault. But I didn't really feel like J.Lo added much to the character mainly because whenever I see J.Lo, well, I see J.Lo and not the character she's supposed to be playing. As far as I'm concerned, Anita is the ghostwriter who wrote that book, but J.Lo gets to promote it on talk shows.

But back to the episode, which was much needed and gave some much deserved follow-up to the Robin and Barney relationship. After months of flaunting his conquests in front of Robin, the show finally acknowledged that maybe Robin, like many viewers, is not so cool with that and that it, frankly, made Barney seem like a uncaring jerk. We'd previously seen hints of that with annoyed glances and Robin abruptly leaving the room, but it was never addressed until now. The episode cleverly went back to those scenes and showed us what happened afterward: Robin broke down crying. It was so lovely to see Robin hurt. That may sound cruel, but it was nice to see how deeply affected she's been by her breakup with Barney and his behavior. It was a rare moment of vulnerability from a typically cocky and confident character that really showcased Smulders.

Robin was so annoyed and hurt by Barney's behavior that she sicked Anita on him after interviewing her about her book “Of Course You're Still Single Take a Look at Yourself You Dumb Slut.” I'm a little disappointed we didn't hear what Robin told Anita about Barney. It would have provided further insight into how she's feeling about the breakup.

I'm not sure what Anita's plan was by telling Barney “no” and forcing him to wait until the 17th date. Just plain torture? There didn't seem to be much of a lesson in it beyond that, but the shock of learning he wouldn't get sex until that late forced Barney to sit down and promptly fall off his chair.

Robin revealed her plan to Marshall and Lily, who clued Marshall in on Robin's “mourning period.” Marshall had been cluelessly acting like a jerk, touting how back in the game Barney was with a catchy “bang” ditty. Marshall must also be blind because there was some serious sad face on Robin during that bit. But he made up for it by giving Robin the push she needed to go out with her co-anchor, Don (Benjamin Koldyke). OK, maybe it wasn't so much a push as a shove. Marshall, who seems as smitten with Don as he did with Robin's vacation boyfriend, Gael (Enrique Iglesias), impersonated Robin over the phone and accepted the date for her. Robin was actually excited for the date and got dressed up in a red dress, prompting Ted to call her “the classiest, most expensive prostitute ever.” It did look like a modern-day version of Julia Roberts' red gown from “Pretty Woman.”

But Robin canceled the date when she heard that Barney was going on a “gooey and romantic” superdate with Anita. After Lily, Marshall and Ted found her crying in the bathroom of MacLaren's – group hug! -- they confronted Barney, who was surprised to learn Robin was upset.

“Of course she's upset. Take a look at yourself, you dumb slut,” Lily said, borrowing the title of Anita's book.

After learning the truth about Robin's cryfests, Barney threw up in his stormtrooper helmet. I'm going to take that as a good sign that he felt physically sick about his behavior and not think of the ick factor. Luckily, Barney knew exactly where Robin was sulking – nice to see you again, gun range and guntotting Robin! -- and went to confront her.

“Don't you see how constantly talking about your conquests makes me feel like I'm just another number to you?” Robin said, crying. “And now you're taking Anita on this amazing date when I never got treated that way.”

Barney, realizing he was a worse ex-boyfriend than a boyfriend, insisted that she was not another number and agreed not to sleep with Anita to make things right with Robin.

“She's not going on the superdate, Robin. You are,” Barney said. Who else thought Robin and Barney were going to go on one last date for old times' sake? Instead, Robin and Don went on the superdate. As the camera cut between Robin and Don looking up at the fireworks show on their date and Barney looking up at the same display and sincerely wishing it was all worth it for Robin's happiness, I couldn't help but think it wasn't that unlike the romantic and optimistic Ted of Season 1.

Readers, what did you think of the resolution to the Barney and Robin breakup? Did it give you the closure you need to move past Barney and Robin or are you still rooting for the two of them? How excited were you to hear Ted doing an impromptu song? And did you take a drink when Robin said, “But, um,” during her interview with Anita?

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

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Photo: Anita (Jennifer Lopez) and Robin (Cobie Smulders) hatch a plan. Credit: Monty Brinton / CBS
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