How I Met Your Mother: Season 6, Episode 20
The Exploding Meatball Sub
This week, How I Met Your Mother dealt with a little bit of every major plotline in season six. "The Exploding Meatball Sub" had plot movement, some solid laughs, and defined a new term that actually worked. In short, it was a pretty solid episode of the show. It's unfair of me to be annoyed with the episode, really. Yet I spent a lot of it annoyed nevertheless.

Let's start with the new term, something the show has done so often at this point it is definitely a trope at this point. The show has an uneven track record at this of late, but I think Graduation Goggles is an actual thing. As Robin defines it, Graduation Goggles is the feeling of nostalgia you get when you're about to leave something behind, whether or not you liked it at all. High school, a terrible job, and a relationship are all examples given of this, and I can remember feeling nostalgia at the end of all of those, even when it isn't warranted. So well played, HIMYM. Looking at the plot, each major arc of the season got some play tonight. We know Barney is upset about his father's abandonment, and that leaks over into his reaction to Marshall's departure from GNB, which he covers by planning an elaborate revenge for a very minor slight (a revenge which, we see in a terrible flash forward, he finally achieves ten years later).

Marshall has been unhappy at GNB from day one, and has finally decided to leave to work at the NRDC, a job that is unpaid. This is problematic, as Marshall is an adult and should recognize he has a huge mortgage and can't afford to work for no pay, but at least this is character movement and by the end of the episode is looking for a real job again. We also revisit the fact that Marshall and Lily are supposed to be making a baby, a plotline that keeps getting punted further and further into the season, I can only assume because the writers dread bringing a baby into this show as much as I dread that prospect.

Finally, we learn that ted and Zoey fight all the time, and that Ted needs support to be happy. This plotline is my biggest issue with the episode. I have defended the show's decision to bring Zoey into the mix before, and I still think she could have served an important purpose in the over all narrative of the show. Instead, after setting her up to be a major relationship for Ted, she has been ignored for most of their relaitonship, and now is being given the standard "suddenly developed craziness" that befalls so many sitcom significant others when the show decides to move on. Their plotline this week, that they are still fighting over Ted destroying the Arcadian to build a skyscraper in its place, feels like something they would have HAD to deal with by this point in their relationship. Zoey has hung out with Marshall and Barney, both GNB employees A LOT, and has been dating Ted for months now. And they're still fighting over the building? I just don't buy it. The show has screwed up this storyline after a promising start back in "Oh Honey" and at this point I just can't wait for them to be rid of Zoey and move on. And I hope to god they are moving on to the introduction of the mother.

In the early seasons of the show, some of my friends complained about the show stalling on the mother reveal, and I defended them taking their time. I also argued that everything the show did was in some way leading to Ted meeting the mother (I have laid out how this is true for the first four seasons before). Now, though, I am in their camp. The stalling is a distraction that gets in the way of many episodes, even ones that are pretty enjoyable like this one. At this point, the show just has nowhere left to go but into the home stretch. I know How I Met Your Mother is going to be on for at least two more years, and I've resigned myself to this fact. But I truly think the only way the show will stay remotely watchable for that long is by introducing the mother and letting her relationship with Ted dominate (or at least play a large role in) the final seasons of the show. If the show regains its sense of forward momentum on the masterplot, episodes like this one will start looking a whole lot brighter.

Grade: B-


-Two biggest laughs tonight: Barney trashing his office when Marshall refuses to come to lunch, and Robin telling Barney the completely made up story of the time her Dad killed a man and made her help him bury the body.

-"Marshall and I have been together for 15 years, and the only debate we've had about Tommy Boy is whether it's awesome or super awesome. That's love, bitch!"

-"Want to play Who's Hot and Who's Scott?" "It's always the one in the turtle neck."

-"You wanna make God laugh, tell him your plans, right?"
Tags: How I Met Your Mother
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