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'How I Met Your Mother': Stop monkeying around

April 12, 2010 | 10:59 pm
It's been three weeks since we've had a new episode of “How I Met Your Mother” and with the end of the season approaching, I was hoping for something a bit more substantial than this episode. Maybe a mention of Robin (Cobie Smulders) and Don's (Benjamin Koldyke) burgeoning romance, which was last addressed two episodes ago? Or perhaps just a funnier storyline with some heft would have done the trick. Despite adding a "HIMYM" spin on heavy duty subjects like the blurry line between the truth and a lie, muggings and guns, this episode felt rather weightless to me.

Marshall's (Jason Segel) inability to pay for pizza led to the revelation that he had been mugged. It seemed like the first time too, judging from how upset Lily (Alyson Hannigan) got that someone pointed a gun at her marshmallow. Robin told Lily she had nothing to worry about and whipped out the world's largest handgun from her purse. Just stick that thing under your pillow and you'll sleep like a baby, but make sure the safety is on first. Either Robin is a really good gun saleswoman or Lily is desperately scared because she accompanied Robin to the shooting range and left a changed woman who wanted to buy a cute, pink gun to match her new shoes. Marshall was horrified by the idea, especially given how prone he is to accidentally hurting Lily. The scene from the pilot of Marshall popping the champagne cork, which hit Lily in the eye, was included in a flashback sequence of all the times Marshall accidentally smacked, punched, hit and threw Lily. I wonder if there are rumors at Lily's work about her abusive husband.

Marshall revealed that he wasn't really mugged by a man. He stopped at the zoo on his way home and a monkey took his wallet. Monkey puns ensued, naturally.

“You got mugged by a monkey,” the gang said, bursting into laughter. And they said it again and again and again. I got sick of it after the first time.

Robin booked Marshall to tell his story on her morning show, but Marshall didn't get mugged by a monkey either. He told Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) and Ted (Josh Radnor) that he only told Lily that story so she wouldn't buy a gun. I thought maybe he was too embarrassed to admit he was mugged by a woman. After hearing that Bobo the monkey would be separated from his mate, Milly, and sent to an animal sanctuary, Marshall couldn't go through with the interview and left. The gang never found out the truth about what happened and neither did viewers. The episode didn't even have a tag at the end because, as Ted told lying Barney, you can't tack on a new ending because you're unsatisfied with how a story wraps up. Tell that to the fan fiction writers, Ted.

Other brief thoughts:

-- If Milly reminds Marshall of Lily, does that make him the monkey? He was already a gorilla in Season One's “Life Among the Gorillas.” We also learned in Season One that Marshall is a great lover of the environment and animals, so it made sense that he wouldn't want his lie to split up Bobo and Milly.

-- Ted reenacting the end of “Sleepless in Seattle” with dolls and his replica Empire State Building: Ultimate sign of a romantic? It also combined his love of love with his love of architecture. I'm thinking Ted has also reenacted “Say Anything's” famous boom box scene.

-- And of course, the monkey helped pay homage to “King Kong” when it escaped from its cage and climbed to the top of Ted's replica.

-- It was a little odd to hear people calling Neil Patrick Harris by his real name when Barney pretended to be Neil Armstrong. Also, how did those girls ever graduate from high school? The lie isn't nearly as fun when it's so easy because the girls are so dumb. Part of why I liked seeing Barney with Robin was that they were on the same level. It was a challenge for Barney.

-- Robin wears Louboutins? I know everyone in Hollywood does, but it was hard not to notice the red soles on the struggling news reporter and not be taken out of the moment.

Readers, what do you think really happened to Marshall? Did this episode satisfy you after a three-week hiatus? Are you questioning every story that Barney's ever told? His lying combined with future Ted as a sometimes unreliable narrator opens up the series to even more “just kidding!” moments, I think. But then again, we've always known Barney has a penchant for exaggeration and impressive self-delusion.

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


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Photo: Marshall (Jason Segel) faces the monkey and his zoo keeper (John Dore) alongside Lily (Alyson Hannigan, second from left) on Robin's (Cobie Smolders) show. Credit: Ron P. Jaffe / Fox.