How I Met Your Mother: Season 6, Episode 8
Natural History
After the last three weeks of god awful episodes, I didn't have high hopes for "Natural History." How I Met Your Mother has been on a downward trajectory for a while now, and last week was the worst episode so far this year. Yet I laughed more in the cold open of "Natural History" than I have in the last several episodes combined.

Two of the three plotlines tonight were at least somewhat successful, so let's start with the worst of the lot and save the best for last. Marshall and Lily's story was another heaping pile of cliche as Lily ridiculously overreacted to Marshall's mature, realistic decision to stay at GNB and make money for his wife and his coming children instead of quitting to make no money as an environmental lawyer. This story wouldn't have worked anywhere, but at least the show threw the characters into tuxedos and an exotic locale to spice up what was otherwise a boring and unfunny plotline.

Ted's story this week was slightly better, even though it marked the return of Zoey, a character I am not yet sold on. Ted meets Zoey's rich husband The Captain (played by Kyle Machlachlan, showing his age), and falls prey to her "my life is a mess" trap that allows her to catch Ted trashing GNB on tape. Fortunately, because of a stranged architectural occurrence (the equivalent of which exists in the Capitol Building), Zoey overhears Ted sticking up for her to her husband and decides not to play dirty in her fight against him. Since we know Zoey isn't the mother, and I can't think of an important lesson ted needs to learn before he's ready to be married, I don't yet see the point of her character, but I'm willing to be proved wrong in the coming weeks.

In the funniest plotline, Robin and Barney engage in a contest to touch as many of the off limits display as possible, in outlandish ways. Its a very funny storyline, started off when Barney outlandishly claims that he used a triceratops bone to knock down the giant blue whale. The subplot has Barney and Robin's chemistry on full display, and takes a classic "Barney subplot pulls on your heartstrings" turn when its revealed that Barney's "Uncle" Jerome Whitaker is actually his father. Barney has been building toward this moment all season long, and it delivered completely, ending off a plotline filled with laughs with a moment of earned emotion unlike any so far this season.

What was especially impressive about the episode is how the seemingly random setting at the Museum of Natural History became a key thematic piece of the episode as the idea of history and how it affects the present became a key portion of all three stories. Ted, Marshall, and Barney were all confronted with a truth from their past and forced to come up against the way they have changed over time and how that will influence their reactions to their current dilemmas. The moment in which Lily confront past Marshall, behind the heading "extinct" was a little on the nose (though Segel mined it for all it was worth), yet it also felt truer than anything in the last several weeks. "Natural History" was far from perfect, but it was better than the show has been in a while, and worked very well as a set up for what I'm sure is coming in the next few weeks. I don't care about Zoey yet, but tonight brought me closer. And any story that focuses on an emotional journey by Barney will be gold for Neil Patrick Harris to mine (hopefully all the way to an Emmy). I sincerely hope that "Natural History" is a turning point for Season Six, but I'm not getting too excited until the show proves it isn't headed back into the depths next week.

Grade: B


-"We're not fat cats." "Totally. I say, Marshall my good man, how's my bow tie?" "Splendid. To industry!"

-"Please enjoy yourselves, but don't touch anything." "Challenge accepted."

-"I didn't realize you were small potatoes. And, to be clear, I am referring to your testicles."

-I love Ted's self-imposed nickname Galactic President Superstar Mcawesomeville.

-"Oh my god, you have a monocle! Is this real? Is this really happening?"

-"That story is legen...hold on...dary."

-"Its ok. College Lily thinks those are orgasms."

-One question: Does it cost half as much as glasses?"
Tags: How I Met Your Mother
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