How I Met Your Mother: Season 5, Episode 20
Home Wreckers
In a season like the one we're going through right now, its nice to get any little hint that the writers of the show are still able to give out the pathos that How I Met Your Mother excelled at during its prime. The show at its best was not only consistently hysterical, but also packed an emotional wallop, coming from a mixture of the nostalgia generated by the idea of Ted looking back on what turned out to be the best years of his life, and the whimsical romance that was his journey towards the woman of his dreams. There was no way "Home Wreckers" was going to move the shows masterplot forward in any meaningful way--that's too much to hope for in a random episode like this. The show did try to throw us a bone though, by examining a bit of Future Ted's life writ present and playing that up for as much resonance as they could get out of it. Sadly, the answer is not all that much, though I will admit watching the house transform into the den where Future Ted is telling the story to his children did make me feel all warm inside.

The episode began with the announcement that Ted's mother (Christine Rose) and her long term boyfriend Clint (Harry Groener, of Buffy fame) were tying the knot. Their relationship was played more broadly tongiht than we'd ever seen it previously, but it lead to at least a few good chuckles, from his incredibly graphic wedding song to their altered states at the episode's close. their union causes Ted to panick about the lack of a woman in his life (pretty much your standard Ted plotline) and impulsively buy a house. In case it wasn't patently obvious from the moment this happened, that house turns out to be the one he raises his children in, presumably with a mother of some sort (if the show ever gets around to introducing her). But of course, comedy must ensue, so much like the nearly identical Season 3 plotline when Marshall and Lily impulsively bought their apartment only to find it was fatally flawed, Ted discovers the house is a lemon, but too late.

The episode leaned heavily on the pathos to cover up for the lack of actual comedy in the episode's premise, and when it did go for comedy, it was in the form of several running gags, one of which worked and two of which sputtered. The gag that came together well was Marshall's continued game of "Drunk or Kid" when he tells the gang about somethign stupid he did (putting bottle rockets in the microwave, riding his bike down an extension ladder from the roof of his house, driving his brother's care the wrong way on I-94) and they are left to guess whether he was drunk at the time or a kid. Each of those ensuing cut scenes was worth at least a few laughs, especially the one resulting in Marshall's mother screaming "Marshall's dead! Marshall's dead!"

The second running gag centered on Barney (or Robin) crying at Clint's crude song. This joke was predicated on the standard HIMYM set up, where one member of the gang has done something stupid and the others mock him or her, and also played with the now pretty standard unreliable narrator, but for whatever reason the mixture felt decidedly off tonight. Finally, the man evaluating Ted's house kept finding things wrong with it, and that's funny because of the financial catastrophe it puts Ted in (though, to be fair, the guy listting hobo was pretty funny).

At the end of the day, this was a pretty weak episode which coasted on the emotional investment the fans have in the master-plot in the way that too many episodes this season have. I care deeply about Ted meeting the woman of his dreams, but every time the show cheapens that with a Macguffin (be it a job, a house, or even an ankle) I get a little more anxious that the show doesn't actually have a rabbit hidden inside its hat, or at least can't find the pocket where it thought the rabbit was hiding. I sincerely hope that How I Met Your Mother doesn't botch its ending, and I have a reasonable amount of faith that the creators have had at least a vague ending in mind from the start, but I truly wish they would stop distracting us with trivial emotional grabs and get back to the meat of this story already. After all, that's what we show up for every week.

Grade: B-


-"We don't want to know what the internet and you do when you're lonely." "I didn't...I'm not talking about that part of the night!"

-"It'll be a sausage fest. Sausage party? We'll do burgers."

-Moms, right? Always making a big deal out of everything. I was out of that coma in under a week."

-I liked the callback to Barney's desire to hear the story of Virginia's broach. A nice touch in a story that was clearly made up (and also wouldn't have been before Clint as Barney claimed, since Virginia and Clint were already dating when "Brunch" occurred. But hey, Barney was lying, so its cool).

-"Ok, she's a Mellencamp." The second time they've made John Cougar Mellencamp into a cougar joke. Nicely done.

-"Ted...I am so...baked right now..."
Tags: How I Met Your Mother
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