27
Sep
2010
How I Met Your Mother: Season 6, Episode 2
Cleaning House
Jordan
It finally happened. After six seasons af waiting, we finally met The Mother...Oh, no, wait. Actually, this episode had, as per usual over the last season or so, not even a tenuous connection to how Ted meets the mother of his children (unless you believe that the wedding at which Ted meets The Mother is Barney's, at which point this episode might gain significance in hindsight. I'm open to that possibility, and so will withhold judging this episode too harshly at the moment). Instead, this was The Barney Show, following that character's journey towards emotional maturity. Its a journey I'm more than happy to accompany him on, too. I just wish the show even tried to stick with its premise a bit more.

Barney's mother (Frances Conroy, returning from last season's "The Stinsons") is moving out of the house that Barney grew up in, and so Barney, his brother James (Wayne Brady), and the gang all head out to help her pack up her old house. As Barney packs up the mementos from his awesome childhood, James explains to the rest of the gang that in fact most of Barney's childhood highlights were lies his mother told him. Barney thinks he got kicked off the basketball team for being to awesome, when in reality he was cut from the team. He also thinks he got a letter from the Postmaster General (who, in his mind, has a giant scruffy beard that is a pretty funny visual) explaining that no one showed up at his birthday because the PG lost the invitations. We learn tonight that Barney's belief that Bob Barker is his father is just one of the many ridiculous lies he is willing to believe if his mother tells him they're true. As character revelations go, this is a perfectly realistic one and fits in exactly with who we know Barney to be (in other words, its know "Last Cigarette Ever," where the characters pick up new traits just for the sake of a single episode and never mention them again).

When James discovers a picture of the two of them addressed to Sam Gibbs, and sees that the back reads "Your Son" he realizes that Sam could be his father. Barney at first believes his mother's lie that the picture was taken in "Yourson, North Dakota" and that Sam Gibbs was the mayor there, who wanted the picture to build a statue of the boys after they saved his son from falling through the ice while kayaking. Yet when he meets Sam Gibbs (Ben Vereen), who is clearly James' father, Barney immediately assumes that he is black and that Sam is his father too. Its an extemely silly plot development, and if anyone other than Neil Patrick Harris had to play it, I think the whole plot would have fallen flat. Yet his gleeful exuberance and ridiculous attempts to fit in and win his "father's" approval, from singing back up vocals on "Stand By Me" to running around the yard screaming, "Dad, Look how fast I can run!" really make the story work.

In a go-nowhere subplot, Robin is trying to set Ted up with her make-up girl, and realizes she has oversold him. As the two attempt to hit the elusive sweet spot of underselling Ted, but to exactly the right amount, they end up telling her ridiculously inconsistent things about him. Marshall, and Lily, meanwhile, have an unresolved fight over whether to tell their children about Santa Claus (a subplot which might have been stretched across a whole episode elsewhere, but is graciously condensed here to the point where I actually could have used a few more Santa jokes from Marshall).

So we are nowhere closer to meeting the mother. But Barney has agreed to put his illusions to rest, and decided that he doesn't need to find his father, because his mother is enough for him. The montage as Barney realizes all of the lies Loretta told him to comfort him during an awkward, lonely childhood is very effective, and it makes for an emotional ending to the episode. On the whole, "Cleaning House" is a very mediocre episode of How I Met Your Mother, but it seems to be introducing one of the major arcs of this season--Barney's emotional maturation. If that leads him to the alter later this season, this show will have me eating the words I wrote tonight. And even if it doesn't. if it leads to some better episodes down the line, that too will be just fine.

Grade: B-

Notes:

-"Deadliest Catch Ever!"

-"I got the Queen to give me a fistbump." "No one believes that story."

-Marshall, on lying to your kids about Santa: "Yeah, but its a good lie. Like when we tell Ted that he'll meet the right girl and settle down."

-"Those statues probably look nothing like us. Damn it, Mom!"

-"Ted Mosby is very handsome, but extremely violent. He's really rich, but has no bladder control."

-"Man, try to hail a cab in Lower Manhattan, am I right?"
Tags: How I Met Your Mother
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