16
Dec
2009
How I Met Your Mother: Season 5, Episode 11
Last Cigarette Ever
Jordan
I have complained before, mostly because I have had many reasons too so far this season, that in my mind the cardinal sin an episode of How I Met Your Mother can make is to violate continuity. On some shows, this is not an issue, or would be only a minor slight, but this show has always prided itself on a meticulous attention to the details of its mythology. Pictures change in the background during flashbacks, obscure jokes from seasons back are brought up again, and there is a strong sense of the intertextual throughout the series, so when it messes up, I am always there as the continuity police to rant and rave as if it mattered much more than it actually does.

Tonight's lapse in continuity was ingrained into the very plot of the episode, which to me makes it all the more insulting. Tonight, we find out that every member of the cast is a smoker, has been throughout the series, and will be until differing times in the future. Robin has always been a smoker, and this is a well the show has gone to several times throughout. I would not be at all surprised to find that Barney smokes, because, well, he's Barney. We have known Lily to smoke a single cigarette in the show's history (on her werdding day, when everything was spiraling out of control) and that was seen as sort of shocking at the time. Fine, I'll accept the random admission that Marshall smokes, because why not? But Ted has always been firmly anti-smoking, to the point that Robin had to hide it from him when they were together, even as much as she had to hide her gun-loving ways. It could be argued that the ridiculous judments the gang visits on each other while they all smoke during this episode cover for that, but I don't buy it. The writers wanted to do an episode where everyone was a smoker, and they did, disregarding continuity in the process.

The whole plotline seemed sort of useless. I know that not every episode can bring us closer to Ted finding the mother, and I like it when the show at least tries (as it did during the ending monologue this week) to tie the events of an episode in to continuity, but this week the whole thing felt very sitcom-y. Adding a new character trait for every single cast member out of the blue and creating an entire episode centered around that trait, only to (I assume, and hope I'm proved wrong here) never mention said trait again is something I consider below this show, which tends to make the best of its sitcom conventions and often, at its best, subverts them for new levels of comedy and pathos.

All of that being said though, the episode did tie up nicely, with the discovery that Robin will quit smoking permanently in 2013, Barney in 2017, Lily when she tries to get pregnant, Marshall when his son is born (so they have a son!) and Ted right after he meets the mother. It is evidence of how invested in this show I am that even a mention of the master plot like this makes my heart warm a little and my anger at shoddy plotting and poor continuity melts slightly when I know that someday, we will see Ted through to that last cigarette, and into the arms of the woman he will spend the rest of his life with. For now though, the show hasn't proven that it's found a way out of this slump, even after last week's marked improvement in quality. I hope that when the show returns next year, it makes use of the second half of the season to get back to form as one of the best comedies on television. For now, let's just latch on to the little master-plot we got an hope there are better days ahead.

Grade: C+

Notes:

-In Minnesota, it snows in summer. Which, reminds me that this is the second "Marshall Time Travels" joke in as many weeks, even if it is in a fantasy sequence.

-"Is this about the Mcrib? Its gone dude, let it go."

-We also learn tonight that Robin and Don will be together within three months. I love when the show gives us a hint at what's to come so we can follow along as it builds there. I can't help but thinking that the grade would have been inflated slightly if we had been given a hint at when Marshall and Lily will have their baby, just for the sake of the flash-forwarding fun. Though, simultaneously, I don't want that baby to come anytime soon. The last thing this show needs right now is a baby.

-"He fired what's his face, Ted! And what's his face was invaluable!" I'm glad Bob Odenkirk is back, even if he was underused.

-"We already have four Viking's lamps, and smoking kills!"

-"I think that hot girl over there is smiling at me." "That's a chair, but yeah, dude, hit that."

-Lily and Marshall are both convinced that Robin wants to sleep with him.
Tags: How I Met Your Mother
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