22
Jan
2013
HIMYM: Season 8, Episode 14
Ring Up
Chris
The advantage of having very, very low expectations is that every once in awhile you can be pleasantly surprised. Ring Up fails to address many of the late season problems that have been plaguing How I Met Your Mother for years now. Ring Up lacks the emotional beats of the more heartfelt episodes, the momentum of the more plot driven episodes, and the thematic resonance of the best episodes of this series. However it is silly, it is fun, and it delivers a few laughs, which is a lot to ask for from a high concept comedy way past its prime. So tonight, I finished an episode of HIMYM feeling something I haven't felt in quite some time: satisfaction.

The episode begins with the gang riffing some quick jokes at Ted's expense. Snappy wit and one ups have always been a reliable well of comedy for this series, however I was afraid that the good will earned by the very amusing opener would quickly be squandered by the more than a little sad and smarmy plot of Ted dating a 20 year old. But Ring Up sidestepped what could have been a new low on Ted's spiral of shame and darkness by playing one of the few trump cards HIMYM had left: the introduction of Barney's half-sister. Barney's reaction to his sister & Ted's hook up did border on cartoon character at times, but the jokes that hit, hit well, and Neil Patrick Harris deftly sold Barney's conflict between vicarious pride and brotherly disgust.

The B and C plots were even fluffier than the A plot, but were enjoyable none the less. Yes, the idea of an engagement ring making its wearer invisible is well trod ground for sitcoms in general as well as HIMYM specifically. And while it would have been nice to see a call back to Robin and Lily's experience with this exact same phenomenon when Lily & Marshall got engaged, the musical number and LOTR nods were just over the top enough to make the material feel fresh.

Ring Up also scored points by using Marshall & Lily in the manner that I have been hoping they would be used ever since they had a child. Their sub-plot involved Lily being turned on by Marshall wearing a wrist cuff and assuming the persona of a burn out musician. It existed happily in the background, serving as a well paced diversion, in line with both Marshall and Lily's characters.

Ring Up was essentially filler as it really didn't serve to push Ted any closer to the mother. Despite how much I (and I'm sure many other fans) would love it, Thomas & Bays aren't going to jump the timeline straight to the wedding. If some filler between now and then is inevitable, I hope those episodes follow the model of Ring Up. My final grade for this episode should be taken in the context of my judging it against other Season 8 episodes. Ring Up is not in the upper echelons of HIMYM episodes, but this is about as good as it gets for season 8.

Grade: B+

Notes:

-"Well you're right, I'm invisible." Robin actually being invisible sold that line.

-"Earlier today I saw that wrist cuff, and I got a partial for Marshall!"

-"I can't believe you're allowed to ship a dead possum."
"He died? That possum was supposed to be an olive branch. Are you sure he's just not playing dead?"
"He smelled like Marshall's hand."

-"Sweetie, I know it's nice to be groped by strangers"¦"

"¦.Did the tag kinda imply Marshall wanted to bang his mom?!?!?!


Tags: How I Met Your Mother
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