12
Oct
2010
How I Met Your Mother: Season 6, Episode 4
Subway Wars
Jordan
Every once in a while, when life has got you down and you feel like all you do is fail, you need a win. When those times come, pretty much anything will do, whether its a small victory or a momentous success. This week, How I Met Your Mother dealt with each of the characters (except Barney) in this situation, and though "Subway Wars" fell into the standalone category that I am weary of after last year, it did service each of the characters enough to make me appreciate the good effort.

The episode starts out with a very solid premise: as the gang scolds Robin for not being a real New Yorker, they begin to debate the quickest way to get to a downtown steakhouse, and decide to race there to see who will make it the fastest. Each of the characters has their own reason for needing a win, and they all fit nicely with their personalities as we know them. Marshall and Lily are having trouble conceiving, and Marshall's confidence in the fertility of Erickson men makes Lily think the fault lies with her. So she hops on the subway, uses her native New Yorker understanding of conductor to determine there wil lbe a delay, and then dashes out to find another way.

Marshall, meanwhile, has talked up his fertility so much that he's beginning to think his body is failing him. So in the most entertaining segment of the episode, he decides that he can beat any motorized form of transportation by simply running downtown, even though its seven miles (he did train for the New York Marathon that one time...). To help himself along, he composes a folk song while he runs detailing his epic battle against all machines.

Ted needs a win after one negative review on a Ratemyprofessor type website gets to him, which is typical of Ted's tendeny to overanalyze. And while his segment of the episode didn't really shed light on his development or move his arc forward in any way (another example of the show forgetting that Ted-movement is the most important progression for the series as a whole), it did have him whipping out his architecture fun facts and learning that he was the crazy person on the bus.

Robin, meanhile, needs a win after her new co-host begins overshadowing her on Come On, Get Up New York. As Lily points out, Robin has been having a tough year, and this is underlined in another funny moment when Robin tears a poster of her new co-host off a metro wall only to reveal a poster of her and Don. Robin's depression leads to Barney's good character moment this week, as the show gave us one of the classic "Barney has a heart" moments that they pull out once in a while to allow him to be an asshole the rest of the time, tackling Ted to allow Robin the win that she needs more than the rest of the gang. If one of this season's arcs is the maturation of Barney (and if the wedding we flashed forward to in the premiere is he and Robin's) this was a good example of Barney's forward momentum.

Ultimately, "Subway Wars" had good moments from the entire cast, character wise, but it was hardly a flawless episode. For one thing, the laughs still aren't coming as fast as they should be, nor are the gags as funny as I expect from this show. Season Six has a startling tendency so far to invent a gag in an episode and stick with it even though its painfully unfunny (I'm thinking of Lily saying "Where's the poop?" last week and the incessant Maury Povich cameos tonight), and this needs to stop quickly. A terrible running gag can drag a decent episode down, and Maury's constant appearances tonight hurt my overall enjoyment, while not being quite egregious enough to tank the whole episode. I did like the Woody Allen style intertitles between scenes though, and I hope that the reference to Robin meeting Woody later in the season means we have a guest spot to look forward to (I think that Allen could actually be stunt casted in a positive way on this show). Over all, this episode was pretty mediocre, and not terribly hysterical, but it at the very least did some good, solid character work and gave some lip service to some of the ongoing stories the show is working on.

Grade: B-

Notes:

-Sorry this is going up late. Midterms are a killer this year.

-"She's so sad and defenseles...anyone have a condom?"

-"Every time I take the bus, there's one crazy person no one wants to sit next to...That is why I have never taken the bus."

-The map gimmick also didn't really add anything in my mind, and was pretty crappy.

-RANJIT!

-Times Marshall has beaten machines: He triumphed over pinball, vanquished the fire alarm, and brought the jukebox back to life with his Fonzarelli arm.

-Times Marshall has been beaten by machines: The cable box when he wanted the Playboy Channel, a stapler, and the cable box when he wanted Spice.

-"Hey toots, how about a ride? Hey Robin, its you!"

-Continuity Error that bothers me: Barney is in a poker group? And no one in the gang is bothered by that? Remember, dedicated fans, that Barney has a serious gambling addiction. Sloppy work, HIMYM writers.

-"Ah! The machines have won!"
Tags: How I Met Your Mother
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