A review of last night's "How I Met Your Mother" coming up just as soon as I compose a song for the evening...
After a long string of episodes that were primarily about Barney, "Say Cheese" turned the focus on the two most problematic members of the ensemble in Ted and Lily. Ted's the series lead, but his romantic impulsiveness, his occasional d-bag tendencies and the unending tease that is his search for the Mother sometimes makes "HIMYM" feel like a show that works in spite of its premise, rather than because of it. And while Lily makes a good comic/romantic partner for Marshall, stories that are primarily about her often make her come across as shrill, controlling and unlikable.
But by putting both characters in the middle of a vintage "HIMYM" trip through time, space and the series' own continuity, and by having each character confront the others' most annoying traits head-on, "Say Cheese" turned out to be one of the strongest episodes of what's been an uneven fifth season.
Yes, Ted's tendency to fall in love with every woman he meets drives everybody nuts, but he got called out on it, just as Lilly had to deal with everyone else's irritation at her control freak ways. The show has to do this now and again to keep both characters in line, and it was done here in the context of an episode that hung a lot of jokes on each character's flaws, whether it was Marshall's inability to take a good picture(*) or Ted's Random Skanks constantly ruining group get-togethers.
(*) I have to say, though, that the Marshall-with-his-eyes-closed running gag was funnier before the episode started calling attention to it.
While most of the short-lived exes were new, it was nice to see Laura Prepon again as the horrid Karen (and the use of whatever French hip-hop song that was really livened up Marshall's worst plane flight ever), and I had completely forgotten that Anne Dudek guest-starred in the series' fourth episode ever (even though that was one of the episodes I covered in my blog's eighth post ever). Dudek's not famous enough for that to qualify as a "Before They Were Famous" appearance; could we go with "Before They Were Cutthroat Bitch on 'House'"?
Also, I got to the episode late last night and therefore didn't have the energy to start Zapruder'ing the "One Year Later" scene to look for clues about the state of various relationships (specifically, Barn-Man and Robin) the way I have with previous flash-forwards, but I'm sure some of you did. Anything useful?
What did everybody else think?