Monday, April 14, 2008

HIMYM, "The Chain of Screaming": Loud noises!

Spoilers for "How I Met Your Mother" coming up just as soon as I listen to the sound of running water...

Ted's back with Stella? What what what?

I know it was only a throwaway reference at the front of Future Ted's narration, and then the set-up for Marshall randomly talking in falsetto when he didn't need to on the phone with Ted, but the idea that Ted and Stella are now dating, despite how we left things at the end of "Ten Sessions" -- and what that means in terms of Stella's probable Mother-hood -- kind of overwhelmed my experience of watching "The Chain of Screaming." There were a number of really good things in it, nothing cringe-inducing like some of the punchlines in the otherwise-brilliant "The Bracket," and yet my mind kept doing mental calculations about how Sarah Chalke might be able to balance filming the final season of "Scrubs" with doing more "HIMYM."

Because, seriously? If they went to all the trouble of establishing that Ted and Stella are now going out, on the heels of their big romantic mini-date a few episodes ago, and all the rumors that Chalke is going to appear a few more times this season... my Mother-Sense is buzzing loud and long. I have no inside information on this, nor do I especially want to get any, but I have to assume we've landed our mom.

As for the rest of "The Chain of Screaming," like I said, I was distracted. I think it was a very good episode, and going back over the events in my head, it feels like it had all the traits I associate with superior "HIMYM" -- fun with flashbacks and altered perspectives (The Ninja Report), Barney being Barney and developing theories, a healthy dose of Marshall and Lily, gags about the reality of life in New York (Ted's pointless car), etc. -- and so I'd like to think it was good, but, again, distraction, so much so that we're going to go straight to the bullet points:
  • I like that, in the week "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" is going to open, we got a Marshall spotlight episode. That said, seeing Marshall scream, first at Barney (who is so in denial he didn't even register Marshall ripping apart the entire tissue of lies his sense of identity is based on) and then at Artillery Arthur, reminded me that, great as Jason Segel is on this show, the role doesn't often allow him to show all the colors he displays whenever he's in an Apatow joint. Marshall's such a happy guy, but Segel's usual fearlessness goes to another level whenever he gets to play comic rage.

  • Who was your favorite faux-Marshall? At first, I was sure Robin-as-Marshall had the title sewn up, as her crazy, gun-toting Canadian-ness has always been comic gold, but then the sexually frustrated Lily-as-Marshall began fantasizing to Arthur (as we learned from the "American Pie" movies, a horny Alyson Hannigan is a funny Alyson Hannigan) and, even better, grabbed her crotch, and that was all she wrote. We have a winner. (Ted The Corrector-as-Marshall was amusing, too, but not in the ladies' league.)
  • Loved the entire flashback to Gary Blauman -- who, per IMDB, previously appeared in Barney's office in season one's "Life Among the Gorillas" -- telling off the boss, starting with the "And you made our friends, the North Koreans, look bad!" all the way through his failed big gesture.
  • The messy snacks running gag was another winner, and worked because everything (even the cigar) was at least twice the size it needed to be. Props to the props department for their work on that.
  • So now that Marshall has quit his job, I suppose we're done with the possibility of John Cho making another guest appearance and possibly crossing paths with Barney. Grr...
  • Are we to assume that Ted selling the car (and no doubt taking a beating on the depreciation) will just help Marshall pay the mortgage, or will help subsidize Marshall taking a loss on unloading Dowisetrepla? I'd like to think that Lily and Marshall will continue to be Ted's roomies, but Future Ted's narration back in the first Dowisetrepla implied that buying that condo was a mistake that had very long-term implications for Marshall.
What did everybody else think? And is there anyone at this point who doesn't think Stella is going to be The Mother?

54 comments:

Byron said...

First ep I got to watch on TV as I spent the last week catching up.

I would love for Sarah Chalke to be a regular on this show. Therefore, I fully expect my hopes to be crushed and for Stella to not be the mother.

Myles said...

Count me amongst those who want Sarah Chalke back, but don't think she's the mother: I refuse to believe it until we get the kids' reaction. If we consider the framing of the show, they would have reacted at the end of "Ten Sessions" (Dermatologist with a daughter is pretty distinctive).

As for this episode, I think that it is great on the surface and kind of "meh" once you get into it: Marshall and Lily never clicked for me, and I felt we needed to spend more time with real Marshall and less time with the fake ones for me to really buy it. I wanted to see some of those Apatow-esque moments you're talking about, and I never got to.

As a result, I felt like there was all of the HIMYM Bells and Whistles and none of the HIMYM Heart.

Still, Ninja Report? Hilarious.

Guy said...

I liked the evolution of Barney's theories: It's the circle of screaming. I changed it halfway to bring it around.

I will hate it if Sarah Chalke is the mother. She hasn't done anything to separate this character from her Scrubs character. But that's probably my growing resentment with the last several seasons of Scrubs coming through.

I fully expect that when we get to the mother we'll get that everything makes sense moment and the reason why Future Ted's mother story has so many details in it, which has been I met aunt Robin, we broke up and I got a tattoo, and then I got it removed and that led to...

Anonymous said...

Would he really refer to her as "Stella" to his children if she was their mother?

the2scoops said...

The "Stella-Ted are dating now" definitely called for an instant replay.

Alan: any idea how many episodes of Scrubs ABC is thinking of showing next year? All the NBC episodes are in the can, and I thought I heard they've filmed a couple of episodes that would kick off the ABC run. Maybe Sarah Chalke's schedule isn't as tight as we think.

So it goes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tim said...

To me, finding out who the mother is is the least interesting part of the show. I don't even think about it 90% of the time, unless there is some kind of fun clue like the umbrella. Laughing! That's what I like and this episode had me all the way through.

So it goes said...

I loved the fact that Ferguson (of the report that is the crap that crap craps) was happily enjoying one of his briefcase candy bars while Marshall was getting his ass handed to him.

Joe Reid said...

Really liked this episode; for whatever reason, the biggest laugh I got out of the whole episode was Robin's giant ice cream cone ("Um, it's delicious enough"). I'll second those props to the props guys.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Count me amongst those who want Sarah Chalke back, but don't think she's the mother: I refuse to believe it until we get the kids' reaction. If we consider the framing of the show, they would have reacted at the end of "Ten Sessions" (Dermatologist with a daughter is pretty distinctive).

But keep in mind, again, that the kids can't react to anything Future Ted tells them. This is stock footage of these two actors -- who both look much older today -- from the first season, and unless Bays and Thomas were being really forward-thinking back in those early days and filmed the them reacting to the end of the story, I don't expect to ever hear them speak again. They're just going to sit, expressionless, on the couch at the beginning of each episode from now till the show wraps up.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Alan: any idea how many episodes of Scrubs ABC is thinking of showing next year? All the NBC episodes are in the can, and I thought I heard they've filmed a couple of episodes that would kick off the ABC run. Maybe Sarah Chalke's schedule isn't as tight as we think.

They're reportedly doing 18 for ABC, and given that they're already filming them, they could be done (if there's no actors strike) at a time when most other network series are still early in production on their seasons.

James said...

never been surer robin and barney are gonna end up together at some point, definite movement on that front. loved this episode, nice to see a marshall (or lily) storyline that isn't just a 'marshall and lily' storyline. liked the callback to 'the security guards are gonna rough you up some' when marshall blew up.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone think Gary Blauman's "failed gesture" was eminiscent of the "failed gesture" of the performance artist who had similar problems defecating on the American Flag in an episode of "Mr. Show". I only made the connnection because of Bob Odenkirk's guest appearance.

Michaela said...

I'm not convinced Stella is The Mother because they've gone to a lot of trouble to set up some misdirect potential-Mothers this season: the random chick he bumps into at the St. Patrick's Day party, Stella, Stella's friend (throwaway speaking role!), Barney's saboteur...

I'm starting to think the season will end with Ted surrounded by four or five women and we still won't know which one is The One. And then if the show gets canceled I will be very very annoyed.

I am actually more convinced that Barney and Robin have either been doing it all season, or have been denying mutual insatiable lust all season. They keep *looking* at each other. And bickering. And sharing cigars...?

That First Andrew said...

I don't mind the Stella thing, because I don't buy that she is the mother. The writers have been so good about simple, subtle clues, that the blatantness of her mentioning the crappy St. Pattys day party the week after the St. Patty episode aired struck me as a bigtime red herring.

I loved Ted freaking out about the food in his car, especially after having just watch "Arivedercci Fiero" over the weekend and hearing him call Marshall's No Food or Drink in the Car rule insane.

This show is ruining me for the conventional sitcom. Continuity, callbacks to callbacks, and major, life changing decisions that don't only happen in season finales.

If Marshall needs money, he should sell back one of his remaining slaps to Barney...

Mike said...

If Marshall needs money, he should sell back one of his remaining slaps to Barney...

Good idea that first andrew.

Better idea. Auction one of the slaps with Barney, Ted and Robin doing the bidding.

Best idea. Sell one of the slaps on EBay and announce the auction on TedMosbeyisajerk.com (explaining that "Ted" is Barney)

dez said...

am actually more convinced that Barney and Robin have either been doing it all season, or have been denying mutual insatiable lust all season. They keep *looking* at each other. And bickering. And sharing cigars...?

I feel the same. I think they're already hooked up and just hiding it.

Loved seeing Bob Odenkirk as Artillery Arthur. I hope he gets to do another guest shot.

The Stella thing didn't bother me at all because I was too focused on Marshall and the Ninja Report to care.

Myles said...


But keep in mind, again, that the kids can't react to anything Future Ted tells them. This is stock footage of these two actors -- who both look much older today -- from the first season, and unless Bays and Thomas were being really forward-thinking back in those early days and filmed the them reacting to the end of the story, I don't expect to ever hear them speak again. They're just going to sit, expressionless, on the couch at the beginning of each episode from now till the show wraps up.


While I technically concede this unfortunate fact, I know there's a couple of "WHAT?"s sitting on the shelf that are certainly capable of being worked into this situation, and working with Saget narration it could be done. I just think that it is going to be more blatant - however it ends up being done, I think that when it happens it needs to happen for good. Until that point, it's all just misdirection.

Nicole said...

I was glad Marshall quit his job, because every time he said he was a lawyer at a big firm in New York, I couldn't help thinking of how he would have to docket at least 2,200 hours per year and how he would never actually be able to hang out with his friends.
Now that he's quit, it will make more sense.

I didn't think too much about Stella being the mother, because I related only too well to Marshall's predicament.

My favourite bit was the car part, because I have a few anal retentive relatives that are exactly like that with their cars... and that ice cream cone sure looked yummy!

mo pie said...

I feel the same. I think they're already hooked up and just hiding it.

I agree with you, and I'll be really sad if it isn't true, because the two of them have some fantastic chemistry, as was apparent during all of tonight's episode.

iffer said...

um if they can change beckys on roseanne ... is it out of the relm of possibilty of getting new actors as the kids

LA said...

I'm pretty sure I read on TVGuide.com (or Eonline?) that they intend to film all next season's 18 weeks of Scrubs between now and August. That could easily free Chalke up.

Anonymous said...

When I see Barney and Robin, I'm reminded of commentary that Ben Browder and Claudia Black once had on their respective characters on Farscape. Can't remember where I read it, but they said something to the effect of: "no matter what the script said, after [episode where our characters did it], we played it onscreen like they were sneaking offscreen and doing it like rabbits every chance they got."

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed Marshall quitting his big law job and yelling about how he didn't go to law school for this. I so wanted to quit mine yesterday, though I don't have a wife and friends to support me until I find something else.

Also loved Lily being starved for some lovin. The firm ate her sex life. That sure rang true.

Chalke is so the mom. I'm kind of whatever about it.

Matthew L said...

unless Bays and Thomas were being really forward-thinking back in those early days and filmed the them reacting to the end of the story, I don't expect to ever hear them speak again.

Really? If they were really filming a few stock shots of the kids, I fully would have expected them to film something for the final scene. Even if it's just:

Saget Ted: "And kids, that is how I met your mother."
Kids: "Great. Please can we go now?"

I thought it was a very funny episode.
- Pretty much any "Ninja Report" scene was gold, but especially the way Marshall refers to it to get everyone's attention, with Barney's "Ninjas are cool"
- The whole ordering-the-meatloaf scene (and incidentally, gravy chips? Is that a real thing? Is it just chips with gravy on the side instead of sauce?)
- The eating in the car scene. Nice catch, The First Andrew, on the Fiero episode, although his protection of the brand-new car is understandable
- Lily's constant desperation, to the point of not caring who knew about it, through the entire episode. The problem with the scene was the payoff, them finally doing it in the new car was rather obvious, lightened only by the fact that Ted was now especially relieved to be rid of the car. But I think this was another one of your placeholder-punchlines-that-would-have-been-replaced-if-not-for-the-post-strike-rush.

One of the things I liked about the episode was that it was natural. The situation didn't arise out of a contrivance to justify the plot, but out of the the character, who Marshall is, and how everything that has happened in the whole season has built up to this reaction. Nor was it resolved at the end of the episode - Marshall and Lily are facing some hard times ahead. The willingness to rely on characters to drive plots, and to follow through on consequences without a reset button, is one of the best things about HIMYM.

But didn't they establish that Marhsall worked rather a long time in his soul-destroying corporate lawyer job. I'm sure we even had a flash-forward that confirmed that was the reason for Future-Marshall-and-Lily's money. Does anyone else remember that, or did I imagine it.

Personally, I think Chalke's return means she's probably not The Mother, although she may be intended as a back-up Mother in case the fourth season isn't picked up. But I don't see them sustaining her for a season or two if she is The Mother.

And, by the way Alan, seeing The First Andrew in this column reminds me of the strong discussion I had with him in the thread about the Tommy Westphall universe, which makes me ask, if I may, why you were wanting those links in the first place. Just curious.

Paul Gibney said...

There was a lot to like about this episode, but Marshall quitting his job just didn't make sense to me. It worked for Marshall the character, but in the episode where he took the job they made such a big deal about all the trouble that Tuckahoe Funland was going to have. They at least strongly implied that Marshall had to deal with all of it. I felt that really broke the continuity.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure a first year associate at a major law firm would be doing a "report." The Ninja "Memo" sounds more like it, but at least there was a proper shout-out to the rules of civil procedure and the elements of a class action lawsuit. (Go numerosity!) The episode did seem a little sitcommy for me, though, as Ted selling his car to fund Marshall's decision to flee his job seems like the type of thing that only happens in sitcoms where the protagonists are all true pals and never neglect each other or be petty to one another.

Anonymous said...

Alan, has the stock footage of the children issue been confirmed with the show? Why didn't the producers allow the kids to age? I mean, they're in the future. What difference does it make unless they don't want to pay two additional actors?

Alex said...

Alan, I agree that this was a nice showcase for Jason Segel on the week that his movie is opening. I was happy to see Marshall do some more emotional material in this episode.

I don't like the idea of Chalke as The Mother just because I thought it would be someone more anonymous. I enjoyed her guest spot but I don't want to be picturing Ted with Dr. Reid for the rest of the series. And I also think it would be too obvious to have the guest star be The Mother.

Anonymous said...

Am I the only person that didn't like this episode?

Oh well, I look forward to Robin Sparkles next week.

Matt said...

Gravy Fries are both very scary and very real. Even more frightening are "Disco Fries"--fries with cheese and brown gravy.

Bobman said...

I didn't really like this episode. It was an OK story but not all that funny to me.

As for the lack of continuity, it's always possible that Marshall somehow gets his job BACK, maybe in a different capacity. While that might be unrealistic, it's not out of the realm of possibilities.

BGF said...

I couldn't help thinking of how he would have to docket at least 2,200 hours per year and how he would never actually be able to hang out with his friends.

I know! When Marshall showed up in the daytime after a hard day at work, I thought, is this the summer solstice?!

Agree as well that lawyers don't really do reports, legal research always goes into memos. But the class certification thing was a cognizable issue that he would be researching. It's weird when they get it half right-- did someone sign off on the class certification thing but then it was changed to report because ninja report was funnier?

torontomeridith said...

Not only are Gravy Fries very real, is is extremely common to eat them up here in Canada. Not to be confused with Poutine which is fries with gravy and cheese curds and are even found at Burger King. I won't eat either, because I'm American I don't eat such things.

AyPNancy said...

I don't think Stella is the mother either. The whole point of the beginning is the dad telling the kids how he met their mother. So why would he mention "Stella" to them (twice now) instead of "Your mom". Is he going to say later on "Oh yeah, remember how I mentioned Stella? Well surprise! That *is* your mom." I hope that doesn't happen.

As for the stock footage of the two actors, I really hope that isn't the case for the rest of the year. I really do hope that Bays and Thomas did in fact shoot some other reaction scenes - since they otherwise work so hard for continuity with this show.

Garrett said...

Perhaps after the strike, they could had a shot of the older kids while Saget said something like "Now, where was I?" Oh well. The kids' reaction was important for the framing device, but now that it's established, they don't matter as much.

I'm still wondering when Future Ted started sounding like Bob Saget. He sounded like himself when he was sharing a "sandwich" with Marshall and Lily.

Jennifer said...

Anyone else think it would be funny to suddenly cut to "The year 2035" and then there's the kids, obviously years older, having grown out of their outfits, being all, "ARE YOU DONE YET, DAD?!?!"

Seriously, they're going to have to deal with the kid issue sometime (hey, just like on Lost), they might as well milk some funny.

I liked the episode. Barney is sure right on the Chain/Circle/Pyramid of Screaming. And notice how he and Robin were sitting next to each other in the bar? Maybe the season finale involves them sleeping together...

Just because Marshall's out of this corporate job doesn't stop him from getting another one to pay for Titanic Apartment. Though I did wonder if this could be used as an excuse for them to get out of it somehow.

Anonymous said...

I didn't really like this episode, either. I appreciated the fact that it moved the plot forward with regard to Marshall and his job and his and Lily's future, but the show wasn't as funny as it usually is.

Steve said...

I was kind of disappointed with this episode. Before watching it I ran through the last 6 episodes of Season One on DVD, and last night's episode was just less funny.

One upcoming continuity note: Ted's 30th birthday is coming up. His 28th birthday was the third-to-last episode of Season One. And according to a flash-forward in that episode, somehow he ends up with a goat in his bathroom.

Also Victoria's two years in Germany should be over. But there's no reason she necessarily has to come back to New York or get back in contact with Ted.

Michaela said...

I totally think the "And that's how I met your mother" bit should be filmed (eventually) with the kids suddenly five years older.

That First Andrew said...

Steve,

I have been watching the previous seasons the last few weeks, and have been expecting both those things to pop up ASAP.

Also, Barney's brother is supposed to be getting married sometime this year, assuming we can call each season a year. Don't think we ever saw Ted's ACTUAL 29th birthday. Have they even mentioned it?

And hi to Matthew L. Looking forward to seeing you at the memorial day barbecue...

That First Andrew said...

Also, I am very confident that, just as they made no disguise about Robin not being the mother, they will make no disguise about who is. At the end of the episode where he meets her and falls for her, Sagat is going to say "And that, kids, is how I met your mother. But that is really only the beginning of the story..."

Anonymous said...

I actually feel like Stella being mentioned so casually makes me pretty certain that she's not The Mother; the Mother story is Epic, and not something that's just casually dropped in. If she is, I feel cheated that we're being told and not shown -- I want to see the moment where she bursts into Ted's life again and says, "so, my lunch break is now four minutes long -- I think there's a window for you."

I think she's being prepped as the Mother in case of cancellation, but if not, she won't be. But I'd like Sarah Chalke to come back -- I just started watching Scrubs based on her two-minute date.

Rand said...

"Dude we're lawyers now."
"Totally."
"We've got briefcases and everything."
"Friggin' briefcases."
"You have anything in yours?"
"Totally empty."
"You have anything in yours?"
"Candybars."

Awesome, that's what I'm going to be like in my first post-college job. I really loved this episode, it had less just jokes and more workplace humor than a typical HIMYM, but I found it great in terms of concept, characters and plot. When Lily and Marshall are allowed to really be characters they are often the best characters of the show. And yes a horny Alyson Hannigan is a funny Alyson Hannigan.

barefootjim said...

I think that I've solved the problem of the aging kids, but it got so long that I ended up writing about it in my own blog.

I'm hoping that this isn't bad form.

Sam Kim said...

Stella has an eight-year old kid. So in 2030, she(?) will be 30. I suppose future Ted could be talking to just the two younger kids while the 30-year old is away, but it just doesn't feel right.

I vote red herring.

Steve said...

First Andrew,

I vaguely recall hearing something about Wayne Brady returning at some point. So perhaps we will see Barney's brother's wedding.

Alan, do you know anything about this?

That First Andrew said...

Strikes me that it could be a phenomenal episode seeing what Barney as best man comes up with for his gay brother, considering the lengths he went to for Marshall... Would he still get a female stripper, since his bachelor parties are more about his enjoyment than the groom's? If they don't do it, it is just a waste...

Anonymous said...

Thought this was a great ep:
Barney's pre-credits gag completely got me. I was expecting a put-down of Marshall, not a complete and utter non-sequiter.

I loved Lily's crotch grab, and there was another like moment (which I'm blanking on now) that made me crack up.

The CineManiac said...

Taran Killam AKA Blauman was also great on the unfortunately appropriately titled "Nobody's Watching" as Derrick. He and his NW co-star Paul Campbell (AKA BSG's ill-fated Billy) were also in the background of an episode of HIMYM, possibly all the way back in season 1, I believe as waiters.

TL said...

Note to Carter & Bays: lawyers don't write reports. We write briefs and memos. Otherwise, very fine episode. Carry on, and if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to writing the Ninja Brief.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Carter & Bays

It's (Craig) Thomas and (Carter) Bays. Everybody makes that mistake, to the point where Thomas might want to think about changing his name to Craig Carter.

Anonymous said...

[quote]Note to Carter & Bays: lawyers don't write reports. We write briefs and memos. Otherwise, very fine episode. Carry on, and if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to writing the Ninja Brief.[/quote]

Agreed...but forgiven for showing the truth that is the chain of screaming. Seems to be particularly true in law.

I think SC would be great as the mom, and the Stella character could fit right in. It makes sense, but at the same time I'm not sure how the kids wouldn't recognize Stella as their mom given all the specifics. Unless, he glossed over them.

PamelaJaye said...

Why is it that the fact that the apartment is in Dowistrepla seems to have been abandoned for the less important flaw of the apartment being crooked?