"Robin wasn't living here on my 30th birthday? When did this happen? Oh, wait, the goat was there on my 31st birthday. Sorry, I totally got that wrong."
Wait... what what what?
Are we to take Future Ted's closing lines of the episode as Bays and Thomas just trying to duck having to come up with a payoff to the goat joke (which was set up a long, long time ago in a previous reference to Ted's 30th) because they knew nothing they had could live up to the anticipation? Or will Robin and Ted be living together in time for his 31st birthday? Will they be roommates, or could the whole "Aunt Robin" thing be yet something else that Future Ted totally got wrong? Will Robin somehow be living there but Ted won't? Or have I put a lot more thought into that narration than Bays and Thomas did?
Why are they messing with my head like this?
Up until they wimped out and/or tore apart the show's space-time continuum at the end there, "The Goat" was another superb episode in this wonderful post-strike stretch. There are still those moments of creeping sitcom-ism (Lily buying the goat from Farmer Frank could have been handled better), but the overall intelligence remains at the forefront, and the writers stay true to the characters.
After we all jumped the gun and assumed that the end of "Sandcastles in the Sand" meant Robin and Barney would become some kind of couple, "The Goat" quickly throws out that idea (for now; I still believe we'll see more of them in the future) to deal with a more pressing problem: how will Ted react to this news?
While I've objected in the past to episodes that seemed to defang Barney (notably "The Yips"), Barney's guilt here was different, because it flowed with everything we know about him, instead of going against the grain. Barney may be a player and a cad and a jerk, but if there's one thing he holds sacred, it's his friendship with Ted (and with Marshall and Lily), and his obsession with inventing and following new rules for society. By having sex with the chick from Metro News 1, Barney betrayed both Ted and his own rules. Why wouldn't he freak out about that?
I also liked the way Barney's guilt manifested itself, with impulse purchases from Sky Mall. I've always wondered who actually shops from those overpriced catalogs; now I know. And Barney's own panic in turn gave us Marshall's panic at not wanting to hear the secret -- after being locked into Barney's office -- and the priceless bit of physical comedy where Barney threw the vase (or whatever that was) at Marshall to get Marshall to uncover his ears, followed by the timely popping of the hot dogs.
And I especially like that Ted didn't let Barney off the hook about this. We know this is something Ted will eventually forgive -- Future Ted refers to him as "Uncle Barney," and the producers aren't dumb enough to get rid of Neil Patrick Harris -- but this is something that should take some time to heal, and no doubt many funny things will happen as Barney tries (or doesn't try) to get back into Ted's good graces.
Some other thoughts:
- The writers need to make a decision on Robin's ability to lie and stick with it. In "Slap Bet," she was able to totally snow Ted on the idea that she was once married, and here she was doing much better than Barney at pretending their tryst never happened, but a few weeks back we were told she can't lie without giggling. What's up with that?
- Ranjit! Every episode is at least 5 percent better with Ranjit!
- "Barney, you want my X-Box?" "Ted, she has a name!" Shades of Michael on "Arrested Development" telling Gob to get rid of The C-Word, and Lucille telling them both that she'll leave when she's good and ready.
- Was that Mr. Pitt from "Seinfeld" as Ben Franklin? And is it wrong that I found George Washington referring to our capitol as "Me, D.C." hilarious?
- I like that both Robin (Canadian) and Marshall (Minnesotan) can automatically identify goat droppings (though Robin the Canadian briefly thought it might be from a musk-ox).