'How I Met Your Mother': A house to build a dream on
Although last week's episode seemed random and aimless, tonight's episode got back on point with a rather serious story about Ted's (Josh Radnor) journey. No, there weren't a whole lot of laughs in “Home Wreckers” – I didn't care for “Zoo or False,” but this one made that episode seem hilarious – still, it did have heart as Ted realized his own mother was lapping him by getting married for the second time before he even got married for the first time.
Christine Rose returned as Ted's mom, and her character couldn't have been more different from her mother character on “Heroes.” Harry Groener, who played the mayor on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” was also back as her boyfriend, Clint, setting up a little “Buffy” reunion with Alyson Hannigan. I don't remember Clint being so hippie in his previous appearance in “How Lily Stole Christmas,” but whatever he's been doing or taking has rubbed off on Ted's mom too. She said she felt like she was 19 again, and she was acting like it with the pot smoking and squealing, “He's so cool! And he picked me!”Ted was distraught by his mother's marriage and how little had changed for him in the last five years. He really is in the same place he was in the pilot, except this time he doesn't even have Robin (Cobie Smulders) to pursue. Meanwhile, Robin's getting serious with Don (Benjamin Koldyke), whom we still haven't seen since the first date. Lily (Hannigan) and Marshall (Jason Segel) have their own place. Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) has a new tie. What's a guy to do to keep up with his evolving friends? Purchase a rundown house with enough bats, rats, roaches, spiders and raccoons to make the cockamouse look harmless, of course! (If you don't know what a cockamouse is, go watch Season 1's "Matchmaker." It's easily one of my favorite "HIMYM" storylines.) Ted declared that this was his dream house, although I'm not sure why. Perhaps getting to make it over appealed to the architect in him. Really, it was the home for his dream life with his wife and kids.
“Is she in the room with us right now, Ted?” Barney asked about the nonexistent wife. OK, I totally laughed at that. Marshall pleading with Barney not to joke about the Blair Witch was also funny and reminded me of Marshall begging Lily not to do her “Shining” impersonation.
The gang thought Ted made a huge mistake buying the house, but Marshall defended him by saying they'd all made mistakes. He pointed out several of his, including the time he drove in the wrong direction on the freeway and the time he put bottle rockets in the microwave. This led to a new game called Drunk or Kid, in which the gang had to guess if he was drunk or a kid when he did that stupid thing. The score was drunk, 1; kid, 2. What was a fun, silly game actually led to one of my favorite moments of the episode and possibly the series. Marshall came back to the house with a grill and sausages and wished Ted a happy housewarming. He knew his best friend. He knew that just like when he ignored his advice to take it slow with a girl, Ted was going to keep the house he rushed into buying.
“Your heart is both drunk and a kid,” Marshall told him. That line so beautifully sums up Ted. He's a guy who foolishly rushes into love like a drunk with the blind hope and optimism of a kid that everything will turn out just fine.
And Ted did keep the house, which we saw in time-lapse fashion became the room in which Ted's kids were listening to the world's longest story. I guess Ted's wife was cool with having their home already picked out. Perhaps she already lives in the neighborhood?
“Home Wreckers” tried to offset Ted's more emotional journey with, surprisingly, jokes about tears. Barney caught Robin crying at the wedding. “I'm happy, you know,” she replied at his disbelief. I took this to mean things were going well with Don before it was revealed that Barney had been the one crying. He offered Robin $500 to say it was her. I'd take the deal. But Robin revealed the truth, so who knows if she got to keep the money. Barney tried to rewrite history yet again by saying that Robin asked him to pretend it was him because she was sick of the crying jokes. But then he added that Robin said, “Your penis is enormous,” which took the lie one step too far. I wasn't buying it one line earlier when Robin cozied up to Barney and said, “I made a mistake letting you go.” That coming out of Robin's mouth right now is as likely as, well, Robin crying. Turns out Barney was crying because he'd missed his moment. He'd once given Ted's mom a ride to the airport and they'd gotten to second base. I didn't quite buy this random reveal and the execution wasn't all that funny either. It felt like a deleted scene from that episode of “Friends” when Ross kissed Chandler's mom. It didn't even seem to matter much to Ted, except in the split second that he punched the wall with a sledgehammer.
Readers, were you OK sacrificing laughs for more of a character journey this week? I have a feeling this episode laid the foundation – no pun intended – for some big decisions by Ted in the final episodes of the season. What did you make of all the crying and Barney almost hooking up with Ted's mom?
-- Vlada Gelman (follow my TV musings on Twitter at @stayingin)
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Photo: Ted (Josh Radnor) and Marshall (Jason Segel) barbecue at Ted's new house. Credit: Sonja Flemming / CBS