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'How I Met Your Mother' recap: A little closure goes a long way

October 4, 2010 |  8:38 pm

Although “Unfinished” had a nice, unifying theme behind it — the idea that we all have unfinished hopes and dreams and relationships — it didn't quite hit the emotional notes as strongly as last week's quest for Barney's (Neil Patrick Harris) father. Still, the episode moved some of the characters forward and had some amusing moments. The most welcome closure came for Robin (Cobie Smulders), who is still not over Don Frank (never trust someone with two first names). I was having a hard time believing that Robin was still in such a funk over Don. She seemed less upset over her breakup with Ted and that relationship lasted a lot longer. But as Robin explains to her friends, she can't get closure on Don because the relationship just ended suddenly and abruptly. It's unfinished. That becomes abundantly clear when Robin finds a channel that airs Don's new show and proceeds to drunk dial him and leave him “indelicate,” threatening voicemails like this one:

“I'm going to fly to Chicago, kill you, put your stupid face on a deep dish pizza and eat it.” Beat. “And then maybe catch a Bears game, but mostly the killing and eating your face thing.” Smulders' delivery was spot-on — half hilarious, half seriously scary. Kind of like a murderous clown.

After several more voicemails, Lily (Alyson Hannigan) forces Robin to delete Don from her contacts. When Lily finds out that Robin lied and never deleted the number, Robin tells her it's not that easy to delete that part of her life and those memories. If she's going to do it, Lily's going to have to delete a number too, so how about the one for her karate dojo — nice callback to Ted's “Karate Kid” speech from the season premiere — but Lily can't do it. And Marshall (Jason Segel) can't bring himself to delete the number of his band's gig booker, even though they've only played one show. Doing that means accepting that you'll never fulfill that fantasy of learning karate or that you'll never play with the band again. Even when Robin does delete the number, she's still able to dial it from heart until one day she isn't. “Finished with that,” she says, realizing she's forgotten Don's number and gotten closure. Finally!

Ted's (Josh Radnor) unfinished business has to do with the Goliath National Bank building he never got to build. Barney informs him that the project is back on, but Ted doesn't accept the offer, claiming that Goliath National Bank is evil (very likely true) and he's happy in his quiet, simple life as a professor (probably true, but also a little false). To get him to change his mind, Barney puts the same moves on Ted that he does on girls: Ignoring him, backhanded compliments to reduce one's confidence, bragging about the horrible perks of his job, intense eye contact and creating intimacy through physical contact. Ted lets Barney continue to do it despite the fact that he doesn't plan to accept the job. “It's nice to be wanted,” he says. He's the only one who noticed Ted's new vest! Then Barney pulls the final classic move — he pulls the offer off the table. It's not until Ted's lecturing his class about an unfinished building by an architect who got killed by a bus that he realizes he wants this, he wants to finish the building. But he's not just going to put out for Barney. He makes Barney take him out to dinner first like a classy architect would.

Some other brief thoughts:

— Lily's “Where's the poop?” was funny at first, but got tired real quick. Lesson: Don't overuse your catchphrase, especially in one half-hour episode.

— Should have never doubted that Barney would track down the student from Ted's class who likes provocative sweaters. Judging from how much time she's spending in Barney's office, I'm guessing she's not doing so well in Ted's class.

— Another great Robin line: “For the last time, I don't care how big it was. It's not the same as giving birth.”

— Would Ted the romantic, soul mate searcher really give Barney “respect” for sleeping with 236 women? Yes, there was a period when Ted was sleeping around a little and acting badly, but it struck me as odd that Ted was impressed. Or maybe I'm just thinking of how skeeved out Lily would be by that number.

Readers, are you glad Robin's finally over Don? What do you think this new career move means for Ted? Did the episode inspire you to clean out your cellphone's address book?

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


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Photo: Barney (Neil Patrick Harris), Marshall (Jason Segel) and Ted (Josh Radnor) talk business. Credit: CBS