HIMYM Season 9: Episode 18 Review
The last season of HIMYM can best be described as empty fan service. Yes the viewer is getting extra time to spend with these characters and numerous callbacks to favorite jokes, running gags, and guest stars. But with little left to reveal about these characters and lacking new spins on the comedic material, Season 9 is starting to feel like a clip show in 24 parts. That said, anyone who is still watching is either enjoying the approach, knows what they're in for and accepts it, or is a reluctant critic whose editor in chief gave them an ultimatum. For that crowd, “Rally” is a breezy half hour of that manages to be fun if not outright funny.

“Rally” opens with Barney so hung over from drinking the night before (totally the fault of the bride and best man) that he is in danger of missing the wedding photos paid for by Robin's terrifying father. The only hope the gang has to wake him up in time is Barney's own "Stinson Hangover Fixer Elixer", a surefire cure for hangovers that the entire group swears by. While Marshall and Ted hunt down the ingredients they know of, Robin and Lily work to wake up Barney long enough to learn the secret ingredient. Predictably, the secret ingredient turns out to be nothing, as the hangover cure is a placebo, but the gang rallies (hey, that's the title of the episode!) to help Barney in a conclusion that is heartwarming so long as you don't think about it at all.

“Rally” feels like an episode that sounded solid in an early outline of the season but proved difficult to flesh out come scripting time, and as a result became a vehicle to burn off a bunch of gags and non-starter sub-plots that the writers couldn't fit into earlier episodes. It's fun to watch Marshall and Ted goof around and discover the joys of bacon, or see Robin and Lily abuse an unconscious Barney amidst glimpses of Robin's awful childhood, but none of it is really laugh worthy. In fact all of the comedic beats feel very disjointed and tangential. The flash-forwards are the most amusing gags the episode has to offer, but again these feel like they could have just as easily been inserted into a different episode, following a different joke, with minimal tweaking.

The emotional core of the episode seemingly comes from the discovery that although Barney lied about the hangover cure, he did so because he loved his friends and wanted them to succeed at the things their respective hangovers would have held them back from doing. Upon realizing this, the gang vows to do the same for Barney. Cue the "awwwws." Except that the solution Ted, Robin, Lily, and Marshall arrive at doesn't so much help Barney, as just delay bad news. And these characters are surprised to find out that Barney loves them? Even Robin? No, the real emotional pay off of the episode can be found in the framing device of the flash forwards featuring Ted and the mother. These glimpses into their life to come continue to be the highlight of this season.

With only 6 episodes left, “Rally” feels like the filler that it is. It's an enjoyable but forgettable episode that nods back to the show's glory days and manages to sidestep the more problematic elements of the show's twilight years. If you aren't bothered by the fact that the writers are running out of things to say about these characters and are perfectly happy just to steal a few extra moments as a part of their delightfully mad cap world, you'll enjoy “Rally”. If that description doesn't fit you, then you probably changed the channel months, if not seasons ago.

Grade: C+


-"I say shine that bat signal even for small stuff. Like shoveling snow. Or if a police horse dumps out in the park." Marshall is the hero we need.

-"Hey Barney, whose baby is this?"

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