How I Met Your Mother: Season 6, Episode 23
Ultimately, the Zoey storyline has been a complete failure, a one-note plotline that didn't really service the masterplot at all (except in the one way I'll discuss below, which is arguable but a huge stretch in my estimation). But that wasn't really the problem with "Landmarks," the episode that finally, belatedly, mercifully brought this never-ending trainwreck to an end. The real problem with tonight's episode was that it was horribly, awfully, terribly unfunny.

Earlier this year, I posed the theoretically ridiculous question, "does a sitcom have to be funny?" I pondered whether, after six years of knowing and loving these characters, a show like How I Met Your Mother could get by basically on good will, could manage a good episode with no laughs or drama just because we cared about the people the events were happening to, even if we didn't care about the events. I decided that, no, a sitcom could not just stop being funny, and "Landmarks" takes the fact that it's theoretically an event episode as an excuse to drop the jokes. If the show had turned in a dramatic episode with stakes I cared about, I might not have noticed the lack of laughs, but this episode failed on that front too, and the dearth of laughter was all the more noticeable for this.

The episode basically comes down to Ted's struggle over whether to save The Arcadian (I know, I can't believe we're STILL talking about that either) and his relationship with Zoey, or to destroy both for the sake of his career, and Barney's. If there was any masterplot movement in the Zoey plot, it occurs in Ted's answer to this question. Back when he was prepared to marry Stella, Ted was willing to leave his beloved New York City for New Jersey, a placer that would make him miserable for the rest of his life, just to spend that life with the woman he thought was "the one." This time around, it's different. Ted realized that the sort of sacrifice Zoey asked of him (and, in hindsight, Stella asked of him) would breed resentment, and so he chose the selfish choice. I don't want to give the writers too much credit for what I think was pretty much an epic stall tactic of a plotline, bbut I can see how Ted choosing his ultimate happiness over his current relaitonship could be argued as a step forward, a necessary maturation before Ted meets the mother. But GOOD GOD, I hope that's soon.

Even in the worst episodes of HIMYM, the cast is pretty stellar, and that's true tonight. Many times I thought about writing down a quote for the notes section, only to realize the joke itself was terrible without the solid delivery by one of the cast members. The few laughs I did get came from the delivery, like when Barney mimed the letter Robin was reading. Also, "Landmarks" gets credit for finally giving Bob Odenkirk some material worthy of his abilities, and watching him scream at an adorable puppy was by far the best moment of the episode. This was a bad episode for How I Met Your Mother, but hopefully it was a brush-clearing episode that got Zoey out of the way in time to give us real, actual, mother-meeting progress in the finale. Otherwise this episode, and really, this whole season (or even the last two seasons) will feel like a giant waste of time.

Grade: C-


-"You're not tugboat! You'll NEVER be tugboat!" That was it. That was the only quote I felt compelled to write down, and even this was mostly the delivery.
Tags: How I Met Your Mother
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