Spoilers for last night's "How I Met Your Mother" coming up just as soon as I get crow's feet...
"Slapsgiving 2" was a fun episode, and in some ways a sequel that improved on the original. Where the first "Slapsgiving" had one story that was a lot of fun (Slapsgiving), it also had one that was a big downer (Ted is still angry about the break-up with Robin). "Slapsgiving 2" certainly had its emotional moments with the story about Lily and her dad, but was more successful in draping jokes (the awful board games, Lily's increasingly silly reasons for the You're Dead To Me face) around the pathos.
And watching Barney try to manipulate his way out of being tied to a chair and slapped was a great showcase for Neil Patrick Harris. (As James Poniewozik puts it, it was like watching NPH get to play Ben Linus for an episode.)
Mostly what I want to talk about, though, is the distribution of the four slaps so far, which the show neatly reminded us of in flashback. (Along with reminding us that guys being slapped hard across the face is always funny. Always.) To date, it's broken down like this:
Slap #1: Marshall does it within minutes of Barney foolishly agreeing to the five slaps over all eternity (rather than 10 slaps right now). On the one hand, an episode called "Slap Bet" kind of needs to end with a slap, but given that Marshall had already struck Barney several times in that episode, perhaps he could have saved this one.
Slap #2: Marshall does it to punish Barney for his awful one-man show, which was itself conceived to taunt Marshall's wife. Easily the best, purest use of the slap bet so far, in that it was both unexpected and totally appropriate.
Slap #3: The first Slapsgiving. Making Barney spend several days living in fear of the next slap was a good way to exploit its power, and it did give us The Slapsgiving Song. But before Barney started taunting Marshall at the dinner table, he hadn't done anything particularly slap-worthy in the episode.
Slap #4: As seen last night, a slap that was bequeathed to Robin and Ted, but only because Marshall knew they would pass it back and forth, and then around the table, until the power of the slap brought everyone together. This time, Marshall mainly slapped Barney as a surprise, and not because he had necessarily done anything to merit it.
With only one slap to go - and my hope that the writers save it for a flash-forward to Combover Marshall holding it over Old Man Barney's head until they're in a retirement home together - I do look at that list and wonder if Marshall and/or the writers couldn't have used the slaps more efficiently. I'd have liked to see at least one more slap along the lines of #2, where it was both unexpected and deserved, rather than giving us a second Slapsgiving, even though the episode overall was just fine.
Some other thoughts:
• Yet another "HIMYM as the next Friends" bit: Christina Pickles, who played Ross and Monica's mom, is here cast as Lily's grandma. But if IMDb ages are accurate (always a questionable assumption), then Pickles (74) is age-appropriate to be the mother of Courteney Cox (45), but much less so to be the grandmother of Alyson Hannigan (35). She could have had at 20, who in turn had Alyson at 20, but... Won't someone please think of the underemployed octogenarian actresses?
• For that matter, Chris Elliott (49) is even iffier as Lily's dad, but I can't object too much when he gets to complete his Guy Living in Parent's Basement trilogy, which began with "Get a Life" and continued through "Everybody Loves Raymond."
• Did Lily ever do the "You sonuvabitch!" thing before last week's episode? I'm assuming it's a random homage to Eli Wallach as Tuco in "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly," and if so, I'd like to think I'd noticed it had they done it earlier.
• Carter Bays did an interview with Ausiello last week where he said that, yep, they split Barney and Robin up because he and Craig Thomas and the others missed writing about single Barney. Now, it's entirely possible he's dissembling - Craig and Carter have made an art of misleading interviewers about long-term story arcs - and that this is all setting us up for an unexpected, much more awesome Barn-Man & Robin 2.0, but if he's being sincere and doesn't think the idea was a good one, then I'm disappointed.
• Getting back to the subject of Jason Segel songs, if you haven't seen his performance of an original tune at a Swell Season concert, you need to.
What did everybody else think?