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'How I Met Your Mother' recap: 'The mother of all fathers'

100217_D0459b Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) finally met his father, Jerry (John Lithgow), on tonight's “How I Met Your Mother,” but it didn't go as Barney expected. In Barney's imagination, his dad left him because he was living an awesome, legendary life of excess. That's the only way Barney can justify his absence. But the person who shows up at Barney's door is nothing like that. Barney lies to the gang and tells them Jerry is “the mother of all fathers.” He ordered the same drink as Barney, picked up a chick in five seconds – that's still too long for Jerry though, who rips up the number, proclaiming, “Life’s too short for chatty chicks” – and travels the world with rock bands. He invites Barney along, who replies, “This is going to be the second most fun I've had on an Asian leg.” It's legen – wait for it – daddy. Except that Jerry isn't anything like that. In reality, he's a skim milk drinking, acid reflux suffering driving instructor with a family in the suburbs. Props have to be given to Lithgow, who gave great comedic distinction to the two versions of Jerry.

Barney wants nothing to do with this lame version of Jerry and ignores his calls, forcing the gang to stage an intervention at Ted's (Josh Radnor) house, which seems to be coming along nicely. Marshall (Jason Segel) lays on the “I'll never talk to my dad again”guilt and convinces Barney to have dinner with Jerry and his family, who live just 10 minutes away. (So Ted and Barney's dad will one day live in the same neighborhood? Random.) Barney immediately falls into bickering sibling mode with Jerry's son J.J., fighting him for Jerry's attention and ribbing the young boy (“What gym do you go to?” “4th period.” “Sounds like you're having your fourth period.”). But when Jerry reveals that J.J. is named after him, Barney storms out and attempts to take the basketball hoop off the garage door.

“If you were going to be some lame suburban dad, why couldn't you have been that for me?!” he yells at Jerry.  Things come full circle when Jerry brings out a toolbox and teaches Barney how to use a screwdriver – he hilariously bangs on the nails with it at first – to take down the hoop. “If you ever feel like you're ready, I'd love nothing more than to be a part of your life,” Jerry says. So even though Barney didn't get the father he wanted and maybe overestimated his readiness to meet him, Neil Patrick Harris did get his Emmy submission tape. He really sold the comedic and the dramatic moments, especially that outburst at Jerry.

I'm curious to see what effect this encounter has on Barney in future episodes. The open-ended quality of the episode definitely made it seem like a setup for more, and executive producer Craig Thomas did tell me Lithgow would be back. At the end of the episode, we definitely saw a changed Barney. Instead of talking about putting a stripper pole in Ted's backyard, he conceded that “a kid needs a hoop.” He not only acknowledged that Ted would one day turn into a suburban father just like Jerry, but that there are things he missed as a child and wished he'd had. Now the question is: Will Barney come to accept Jerry and some part of that suburban life for himself? And will Jerry serve as a warning to Barney in a way? It was Jerry's excessive ways and Barney's mom finally having enough of them that cost him his relationship with Barney. If Barney continues on the way he is, what will it cost him?

Meanwhile, Barney not knowing how to use a screwdriver gets the gang talking about their own gaps. Ted pronounces chameleon the way it's spelled. Robin (Cobie Smulders) doesn't think the North Pole is a real place, likening it to Narnia, Candyland and Hogwarts. Lily (Alyson Hannigan) has no aim, which is kind of a lame gap until Marshall reveals that she pees on the floor. Marshall wants to know his gap, but his friends have been treating him with kid gloves ever since his father died. After realizing it, he started to do stuff on purpose to see what he could get away with. The list is awesome: proclaiming “Phantom Menace” the best “Star Wars” movie, which causes Barney to nearly choke on his drink before replying, “It does age well”; growing a soul patch; bringing home a possum he found in the trash. So the gang finally gives him his gaps: He can't wink; he can't swallow pills; he drowns his oatmeal; he always misses a belt loop.

Showtrackers, what did you think of Barney's father? Do you think it will cause Barney to embrace or change his lifestyle? And what's your gap? I definitely have a few like Ted.


'How I Met Your Mother': Executive producer Craig Thomas previews Barney's father
Complete “How I Met Your Mother” coverage on Showtracker

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

Photo: Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) takes down a basketball hoop with his dad's (John Lithgow) help. Credit: Sonja Flemming / CBS.

Comments () | Archives (7)

This was an amazing episode! It had everything that I love about How I Met Your Mother - epic funny lines, drama, jokes, sadness, emotion, and all out believability. I always enjoy how HIMYM doesn't wrap things up quickly. I love the show because it seems so real, it gives the fans a chance to connect and to feel real emotion. No one gets over things in one day or one episode. It takes time and HIMYM writers understand that beautifully.

John Lithgow is such an amazing actor. He did an excellent job as the two types of dads. I don't know which I liked more! He' very believable as Barney's dad. When Barney yelled at him about the basketball hoop...I got chills. Neil really really made that moment hit me in the heart. I felt his anger and why he was mad. Then, when he took the hoop to Ted's I just had to start crying. The one thing I have always admired about the show is how each character brings so much to each others life. Like, Ted can tell his children about how they got that hoop. The memories are creating the future and it's touching and I hope to have all that one day.

Last, I don't think Barney will change his lifestyle yet. I think him and his dad have to bond more, but it depends on what Barney wants from him. Is he looking for father now? Does he just want to know who his dad is and that's it? If they actually do form a relationship...then it will definitely change Barney for the better. Can't WAIT!

I think Barney meeting his father will at least motivate him to reconsider his lifestyle if not change it. I’ve always wondered if Barney would get tired of all the women and the shallow way he measures his quality of life. I haven’t missed an episode and will be sure to see if he changes anything thanks to my employee subscription to DISH Network in HD. Either way, I’m sure the next two seasons will be great.

My gap is very much like Marshall's. I can't wink for the life of me. And I'm horrible at swallowing pills. This was the perfect episode. I heart John Lithgow. At first, I wasn't in his court, but seeing him deliver on screen was so good. I liked when Marhsall told them to stop treating him with kid gloves. I really believe his grieving period and feel that he's ready to start his life again.

*Did I mention that I literally start doing the happy dance everytime they bring back the "intervention?" haha

I think Barney was heading for change regardless of if he had met his dad or not. Specifically, cuz of the other plot developments he had been going through earlier with Norah, but this was a definite booster toward that goal. I think John Lithgow was magnificent as Barney's dad and I think it was a nice twist that he wasn't like Barney cuz deep down Barney's a nerdy guy but he kind of has been used to wearing this mask of masculinity to not seem so sensitive which he is deep down inside. The episode "Game Night" from season 1 explains it all.

liked this ep, but I didn't love it. I think because, for me, Lithgow didn't work as the legendaddy character Barney created. I just didn't buy it. And I actually didn't buy that Barney would want such a guy to be his dad (given what we know of his hippie-ish past). The show has gone through great pains (IMO) to show Barney's whole "suits and women!" thing is kind of a facade, and to have his dad actually be that way would've been...a little depressing (and for a 30 year old man, more than a little sad). I'm glad the show went the way they did. The ep picked up a lot more once Jerry's true character was revealed, and the last scene with him and NPH was outstanding.

But in terms of balancing comedy and drama believably, I think "Last Words" pulled it off better.

I loved the episode. I thought John Lithgow was great as Barney's dad, and I'm glad he's coming back for a second episode. Though this episode was very emotional, I also thought it was incredibly funny, and the combination really worked for me.

I do think this is leading down a slow road to Barney changing his lifestyle. I don't think Barney will suddenly decide by the end of this season that he, too, wants to move to the suburbs, have two kids, and get family portraits with matching sweaters, just like his dad, but I do think that they've set it up so that Barney has to start seriously thinking about where his life is headed. That doesn't necessarily have to mean marriage and/or kids (though it could) but I do think, at the very least, that Barney has to start wondering if he should have greater goals in life beyond sleeping his way towards woman #300.

Yeah!!!! This is such an amazing episode... How I met your mother is a fabulous romantic show. The best thing of this series about it's storyline which makes me crazy a lot. So that's why I never control my self to watch this show online here: http://goo.gl/PcGUV


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