How I Met Your Mother: Season 5, Episode 15
Rabbit or Duck
One of the legs up that How I Met Your Mother has always had on other sitcoms is the way it plays with timing, often jumbling up the narrative on an otherwise straightforward story to provide an interesting reveal or just spice up your standard sitcom plot enough to make it serviceable once again. "Rabbit or Duck" did play with time a bit during the third act, but that wasn't what was so impressive about its structure. This time around, the show managed to pack an almost ridiculous amount of story into its 22 minutes, but it also pulled off hiding which plotline was the true A-story all the way until the blip at the end.

From the Superbowl gimmick, the show could eaisly have gone with a Barney A-story about his cursed phone and what it means about the quest for romance. With the relative weakness of the earlier half of this season, there was a solid chance that would have been the episode. Instead, Barney was utilized perfectly, as a metaphor for the problem of singleness and the fickle nature of human emotions, while simultaneously allowing Neil Patricj Harris to be hilarious (and providing an excuse to get Ranjit back for an episode, which is always a treat).

With Barney safely out of the way as solid subtext to the episode, it appeared like we might have an A-plot in Ted's idea to have Lily and Marshall "arranged marriage" him by setting him up with a woman who he might actually marry. This not only sounds like the makings of an A-plot, it sounds like pretty vintage How I Met Your Mother and a solid plotline for a Valentine's Day episode. Yet it almost immediately goes underground in favor of an extended second act in which these characters, who we have grown to love and therefore adore spending time with, just sort of talk out their issues...with jokes.

The Rabbit or Duck question is another classic bit of HIMYM as it packs a kernel of truth beneath a very clever turn of phrase. Yet Ted was also not intended to be the A-Plot for this episode. Instead, its a Robin episode tonight as she moves closer to her inevitable coupling with her co-anchor Don. We have known for a while now that the two of them were going to get together, yet ghosting this plot through the episode with a call back to "The Naked Man" and some Robin's show sucks jokes got us to the end in time for another classic move: The twist. Except this episode had several as we discover Ted has become cursed by Barney's phone, then learn that he and Robin may be content to just be with each other (fortunately platonically this time), and finally are presented with Robin's realization that Don is, in fact, a duck. All and all this was a near-flawless episode of How I Met Your Mother, beautifully constructed and excellently pulled off by all of the cast. It also packed some solid subtext, which at the end of the day was pretty much the icing on the cake of an excellent episode.

Grade: A


-"How many chicks do I have calling me? Infinity!"

-"That beer looks a little flat." "Its scotch."

-"You're going to marry this guy so freakin' hard...in the butt."

-"Getting drunk and cleaning up the apartment was a plan?" "I did not say it was a good plan."

-"And the adies love Teddy Westside." "You're waiting for me to comment on your self-assigned nickname...I love it. Teddy Westside--continue."

-The whole Rabbit or Duck fight was peppered with excellent jokes, including "Who carries around a duck's foot for good luck?" and "Why don't we stick a rabbit and a duck in a cardboard box and let them fight it out?" "Because its illegal Ted!"

-"Don...Donald...Donald Duck. And what does Donald Duck never wear?" "Pants." "Don is a duck. Permission to say lawyered?" "I'll allow it." "Lawyered."

-There were a surprising, and very satisfying amount of callbacks tonight. The show is remembering its awesome roots.

-"I don't know what kind of architect! Houses, buildings, that kind of crap!"

-"Oh, and you can be choosey! You're in a bar on Valentine's Day!"

-Trudy is married huh?

-"Why would Ted order rabbit if he's just going to run out?" Marshall missed the metaphor...
Tags: How I Met Your Mother
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