15
Apr
2013
HIMYM: Season 8, Episode 21
Romeward Bound
Chris
Romeward Bound deals with Barney, Marshall, and Lily being confronted with major life changes while Ted continues his sad transformation into a pale imitation of Barney, all the while pining over the life Barney is about to have. While major changes to How I Met Your Mother's status quo are hinted at here, the characters wrestle with these decisions mostly off screen or through fantasy, leaving this episode feeling very light on plot.

I sometimes worry that I expect a little bit too much from How I Met Your Mother given the evidence from the past five seasons that this show was never going to be the show it was/could have been when it was in the prime of its first three seasons. With that in mind, no matter how frustrated I am by the plot developments or thematic implications of a given episode of later life HIMYM, I always try to approach each review by first asking whether or not it was funny. At the end of the day, How I Met Your Mother is a sitcom, a bit more high concept and experimental than most sit coms, but its number one function is still to make you laugh.

That said I didn't find much to laugh at in Romeward Bound. The sequence detailing what Marshal's work week actually consists of made me smile, but the rest of the episode's jokes were either lazy misses or out right groaners ("I need your advice on purchasing some luggage. "What kind?" "Carry on."). So with few laughs to speak of, I have no choice but to focus on how this episode advanced the plot and what it means for the characters and series as a whole, rarely strong footing for an episode of season 8 HIMYM.

When the Captain announces he is moving to Rome for a year, Lily is forced with a choice: give up her dream job, or force Marshall to give up his. However as it turns out, Marshall's firm has fallen on hard times, leaving Lily's own self doubts as the only obstacle standing between her and Rome. The emotional beats with Lily being scared to leave her comfort zone given her poor track record doing so weren't necessarily out of character, but the execution of the entire plot line just felt lazy. Lily had just been handed her dream job on a silver platter at a moment when she was at her lowest thinking that her greatest career aspirations were well beyond her reach.

You would think that Lily would be more tenacious in fighting to hold onto her dream job, especially when she discovers that Marshall is on board with their plans. Far more interesting would have been a situation where the couple actually had to choose whose dreams they would pursue given how easily both had attained their current jobs. At the end of the episode, a pep talk from Marshall encourages Lily to take the Rome job in a sweet but repetitive moment, but given how inactive she was in this decision and the fact that I can't imagine HIMYM removing these two from the fold for any significant period of time, it's hard not to view this plot line as anything but wheel spinning.

The Ted, Barney, and Robin B-Plot involves these three trying to get Barney & Robin's "redonkulously" hot wedding planner to take off her puffy coat. Eventually achieving success, Barney thinks he can maintain some of his caddish tendencies because his commitment to Robin makes them less creepy and she's the coolest fiance ever so it's all a-ok. Ted warns Barney that he might be pushing the bounds of Robin's coolness, causing Barney to snap back at Ted with unwarranted harshness.

Obviously the show is setting up future conflict to draw out the remaining season(s) and add drama to this road to the alter, but this particular horse has been so thoroughly beaten to death, you would be hard pressed to find any remains of horse. What's more is that the episode ends the opening installment of this plot line so abruptly, I had to rewind my DVR to see if I had missed something. A disappointing follow up to the stellar Time Travelers episode which I unfortunately did not have a chance to review, but felt compelled to mention as it has so far been one of my favorite episodes of this season. I guess at the end of the day the best thing I can say about Romeward Bound is that it left me feeling more puzzled than outright angry.

Grade: C-

Notes:

-I had to google the correct spelling of redonkulous to write this review, and now I kind of hate myself and my search history.

-(In Italian) "Gino Cavallini"¦come on down!" Marshall as an Italian house husband made me chuckle and Price is Right jokes are always funny, in any language.

-"You know. The ship has sailed? It's over and there's nothing you can do?" "What a peculiar expression. Well thanks for all your hard work Lily, I've never been good at goodbyes so"¦" click

-I would have really liked to see how Marshall convinced The Captain to offer Lily her job again. That sounds much more promising than Marshall acting out scenes from the Godfather.
Tags: How I Met Your Mother
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