23
Nov
2009
How I Met Your Mother: Season 5, Episode 9
Slapsgiving 2: Revenge of the Slap
Jordan
From the moment I read that How I Met Your Mother was planning a sequel to the beloved "Slapsgiving" I knew I was in for a bad episode. For one thing, the idea of the episode is literally identical to one we've seen before, showing the utter lack of ideas the writers have at the moment. But more importantly, "Slapsgiving 2: Revenge of the Slap" did damage to one of the most vaunted jokes in the show's history, adding insult to the injury of an episode that slogged through twenty-two minutes without providing a single big laugh.

When I name my favorite episodes of How I Met Your Mother, "Slap Bet" is always near the top, if only because it gave us arguably the greatest recurring gag in television history. We left that episode knowing that four more times over the course of the series we would get to see Marshall slap Barney. And it would be hilarious. The pressure for each slap grew slightly, as the second one came out of left field and the third was delivered on slow boil, building with a slap countdown to let us know it was coming months in advance. After that, I expected Slap #4 would be a huge event. Perhaps I wanted too much, but I never thought the show would just wait two seasons to have Barney get slapped on Thanksgiving again.

The slap gets doled out to Robin and Ted after they find Marshall's turkey he's proud of, and the two commence fighting over who gets to slap him. This is ludicrous because, a) I didn't buy for a second that Marshall was so enamored with that turkey he was willing to part with a slap, and b) the ensuing fight was far from humorous. Because the plotline had one very obvious resolution, the show needed to throw something else at us as a distraction, and it chose Christ Elliot. Which brings us to the second cardinal sin a How I Met Your Mother episode can commit: a continuity error. Several times throughout the course of the series we have heard Lily talk about her father, and never in an even slightly negative way. Further, she has made explicit references to her father paying for her wedding, which, if he was broke and living in his parent's basement, is flatly impossible. To be clear, continuity errors will always irk me, but I especially rely on this show, which prides itself on meticulous attention to continuity and detail, to get its backstory right.

So Lily apparently hates her deadbeat father, but she forgives him. Oh, and Marshall slaps Barney. This episode lacked any of the banter that one expects from this show. That has happened before (during a few episodes in Season Three right after the writer's strike) but the show has always been carried through by the simple chemistry of its cast, each of whom are excellent and can deliver even lackluster lines solidly enough to warrant a chuckle. Not even MVP Neil Patrick Harris could make Barney's fear seem realistic or funny tonight. Every single moment of the episode fell flat. But it wasn't simply a laughless episode. That would have been bad enough, but "Slapsgiving 2: Revenge of the Slap" actively did damage to some of the things I love most about How I Met Your Mother as a whole. I know the show is in a slump, and perhaps the writers got so desperate they thought they had to go to their deepest comedy well. Yet instead of rescuing them, bringing back their greatest running gag just demonstrated how off its game the show is this season. I have rarely been so deeply disappointed with the show, nor so quick to call an episode among my least favorite. For shame, How I Met Your Mother. For Shame.

Grade: D+

Notes:

It feels shameful to give this episode any props at all, but there were a few amusing things to note.

-I enjoyed Ted wishing to be Robin's slapprentice and Robin calling Ted Eric Slapton.

-Marshall's mannequin hands during family dinner were both creepy and funny.

-"I've never slapped Barney...above the waist."

-"This once pure fruit has turned into a slapple." And yet, even writing this I realize that the best jokes tonight were puns. Again, for shame.

-"It's not real bile. It's just lead based paint from China. And horse bile."
Tags: How I Met Your Mother
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