12
Jan
2010
How I Met Your Mother: Season 5, Episode 12
Girls vs. Suits
Jordan
The 100th episode of How I Met Your Mother has been advertised for weeks as an exuberant celebration of everything there is to love about this show: mythology, romance, narration jokes and, of course, suits. And to a certain extent, "Girls vs. Suits" lives up to that promise; its just unfortunate that it seems to be doing so because it promised to rather than because it really has anything substantial to offer in any of those categories. Stated less obtusely, the episode does in fact deal with the mythology, have romance, use narration for jokes and pay tribute to suits, but it doesn't do anything new or exciting with any of the above. What the audience is left with is more of a retread of the things that have previously made HIMYM great than a new great episode to be excited about.

First, a look at the much-touted mythology that this episode deals with. Does it bring Ted closer to meeting the mother? Perhaps technically, but really it brings him physically closer to the mother without making him even slightly more likely to meet her. I am not one who is desperate for Ted to meet the mother and get it over with already, but I am only willing to deal with the show's stall-tactics when they feel a little less desperate. There is a clear argument to how Ted's arc with Robin and his subsequent recovery, or his engagement to Stella and subsequent recovery are all essential to understnading how Ted became who he was when he met the mother of his children. There is less of an argument to why any of this season has been necessary from a mythology standpoint, and tonight is no less trivial. Ted courts Cindy (guest star Rachel Bilson) who has a complex about how cool her roommate is. Turns out, said roommate is the mother, and we do find out some fun and titillating facts about her (she plays bass, likes to draw robots playing sports, and her rendition of an English Muffin singing "Memories" is the most hauntingly beautiful thing Ted has ever heard) but stepping back for a moment it becomes painfully clear that we have really learned nothing about when Ted will meet the mother or how it will happen. A further step back and its obvious we didn't even learn a single way that this episode put Ted closer to meeting her. Had any of these details been furnished, the episode would have been much more satisfying.

The episode's romance was off, and was supposed to be, because Ted is never going to end up with Cindy. A little bantering aside, these two were just passing as ships in the night, because Ted will end up with her roommate. We saw Ted's irrationally romantic side, but we never really got a glimpse of the sweeping glee that comes along with any real romantic feelings being developed. In terms of narration, however, I must give credit where it's due. The show did some of the best narration jokes in its history tonight, my personal favorite being when Ted asks "What's she like?" and older Ted narrates, "And that was the first description of your mother I ever heard" only to have Cindy say "She's a whore. Or possibly a dominatrix."

In terms of suits, anyone who knows that Barney loves suits and says "suit up" a lot knows everything you need to about that plotline, which really seemed entirely engineered to get NPH to sing. I never mind watching the man, ever the consummate entertainer, belt out a tune with his classic bravado, but the song felt mostly half-assed. A lot of phrases rhymed with suit, but there were only a few laugh lines throughout (Marshall delivering his "pot o' gold" line and Barney telling Lily to get her head out of her ass being the two that come straight to mind), but the plotline that lead us there was fairly amusing. Watching Barney de-suit to win a hot bartender (with a detour into Lily's bisexuality as she exclaimed, "And that ass? I would wear that thing for a hat!") was good fun, and allowed for a great Pulp Fiction joke as Barney secretly suited up in the bathroom while the shooting up music from the movie played and we were treated to a similar montage.

At the end of the day, "Girls vs. Suits" was one of the better episodes of How I Met Your Mother this season, but failed to live up to the huge hype it built up, largely for the same reasons this whole season has been underwhelming: the writer's seem to have forgotten how to take risks and seem content to deliver the same pre-packaged entertainment as most other sitcoms, colored with the qualities that have previously made the show great. I hope this "myth-heavy" episode leads to some actual myth-lifting later in the season, and I still remain optimistic that the show will kick it into gear for the back nine of this season.

Grade: B

Notes:

-I loved Marshall's retort to Lily, "Heck yeah I'm gay. Gay for you!"

-Tim Gunn's cameo was fun, as was Barney's decision to donate his suits buttons to save the life of a sick jacket from the upper east side.

-"Those...I mean that...I mean she!"

-I loved Barney saying, "I'm going to give up...wait for it..." and then Robin annoyingly interjecting, "we know you're going to say suits" Before Barney pauses dramatically only to say "suits." The best part of that exchange, though, were the horrified gasps from Marshall and Lily after Barney said suits.
Tags: How I Met Your Mother
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