S7E17: I haven’t been too impressed with How I Met Your Mother’s 2012 output. For the most part, this year’s episodes have been unsubstantial, relinquishing Ted of the real meat his character once had and going and prioritizing gags over genuine story or character development. The series has historically proven capable of balancing humor and drama quite well, hence my disappointment. But this week’s “No Pressure” is a return to form—it might not be quite on par with How I Met Your Mother’s greatest moments, but it is certainly a formidable chapter in the romantic journeys of Ted, Robin and, a bit more subtly, Barney.
"I go camping in secret!" - Ted
Last week's episode
ended with the bombshell of sorts of Ted professing his rooftop love to Robin, very shortly after her breakup with Kevin. Due to the flimsy mood of recent weeks, I felt that this was a strange and kind of clumsy move for How I Met Your Mother
. But thinking generally, it was definitely inevitable. This week picks up immediately: Ted comes to realize that in the five years since his breakup with Robin, he has never stopped holding a candle for her. And riding a tidal wave of emotions resultant of the events of her past two days, Robin gives into the romance. She and Ted kiss. Unfortunately, the timing is sitcom-level inconvenient: Robin is forced to leave for Russia right away for a work assignment. But all the more time for Ted to mull the issue over with his brain trust…
"You need to go to Russia, with love!" - Lily
Marshall (and an explicitly uninvited Lily) meet Ted at the bar immediately—he’d be hard-pressed to find better friends—to discuss the matter at hand. Marshall supports Ted, sure that he and Robin are meant to be together and glad that this step is finally being taken. Lily, on the other hand, discourages the union and tries to deter Ted from a romantic reconnection. Meanwhile, a hung-over Barney, sleeping off his previous night of riding the Drunk Train (as we saw last week), scours Marshall’s and Lily’s Long Island abode for the sex tape that Lily inadvertently convinces him she and Marshall made. While looking for the tape, Barney comes across something of more interest: a box marked “Long Term Bets,” containing documented evidence of bets that Marshall and Lily have been making about their friends. The severity ranges from “Marshall bets Lily that Robin will never return Lily’s hairdryer” to “Lily bets Marshall that Ted and Robin will not end up together.” That’s the one that gets the most focus.
“You’ve been betting on us? Like we’re a couple of hobos fighting over a sandwich in some psycho preppy kid’s backyard?” - Barney
Barney rushes to the bar to disclose his discovery to his friends. Naturally, Ted takes the aforementioned bet to heart, recognizing that his love life and happiness have just been a means of entertainment for his two best friends. Truth be told, this is a pretty despicable thing to do, especially if it allows your advice to and interactions with either friend to be effected. It’s not something that surprises me in regards to Lily—she’s a manipulator, and a shameless one—but I am disappointed with pure-of-soul Marshall. Granted, he’s on the positive end of this bet, but it still trivializes his devotion to Ted. Then again, his unquestioned agreement to hop on any number of 46-minute trains to meet his best friend at a bar at a mid-morning moment’s notice (in addition to his actions at the end of the episode) kind of make up for it. Plus, you just can’t really be all that mad at Jason Segel. He brought back the Muppets, after all.
Despite her unfavorable treatment of his love life, Ted does recognize some of the veracity in what Lily has to say. She tells him that she truly does not believe that he and Robin belong together—the cause for the bet, not the other way around—and that if they actually did, they would have been together by now.Ted considers this back at his apartment, unable to come up with anything tangible that has kept him and Robin from finding each other. In bursts Barney, back once again from Marshall’s and Lily’s, where he managed to find the infamous sex tape (oh yes, it’s real). The show employs a pretty big leap in logic here: upon mere sight of Barney, Ted realizes that it is his dear perverted friend who has caused the permanent fissure between him and his beloved—Ted concludes that the reason he and Robin haven’t ended up together is because she is in love with Barney.
“Do you think that if we did it and I did a really good job, I could turn that into my baby?” - Barney
I’m a Robin-Barney shipper. I guess I’m foremost a Ted-Robin shipper, but that defies the reality of the show. So, Robin and Barney it is. As such, I’m pleased that the show seems to be taking this route. But it does seem like Ted comes to this conclusion out of thin air. Ted informs Barney that Robin and Kevin have broken up, and we can see Barney suppressing his emotions about it. See, Barney is so desperately afraid of real rejection that he isn’t willing to even admit that he might still want Robin. She shot him down and broke his heart—he can’t fathom putting himself through that again.
…Or can he? We’ll get to that.
“Barney, that was my VCR.” - Ted
“Ted…it was a VCR.” - Barney
After a whole shenanigan where Barney destroys Ted’s VCR over the anxiety of deciding whether or not to watch Marshall’s and Lily’s sex tape, we return to the serious plotline. Robin returns home, she and Ted talk, dine at the blue French horn place, and return to the apartment…where she informs Ted that they cannot be together. Ted insists that she confirm once and for all that she does not love him—she confirms—so that he can finally begin to move on.
“I think you know how you feel about me now, and I don’t think time is going to change that. Just tell me. Do you love me?” - Ted
“No.” - Robin
Here’s where Marshall redeems himself. Although Ted professes happiness with the solidity in their conversation, Marshall takes note of his friend’s pain. Thus, he tells Robin that she needs to move out so that Ted can move on. And she does. Cue a montage of Robin leaving, a heartbreaking Florence and the Machine ballad, and Ted entering a world of endless yellow umbrellas—ah, metaphors.
“Barney, you’ve really grown up, you know that?” - Ted
“Thanks. Now let’s watch our two best friends have sex on tape.” - Barney
But screw metaphors. The more important things to focus on: back home, Lily regretfully tries to cheer herself up by requesting that Marshall “pay up” regarding their bet over Ted and Robin’s relationship. Marshall, as he did all throughout and up to the disasterous end of Ted’s wedding to Stella, stoically replies, “Not yet.” Even after all this, Marshall is still sure that Robin and Ted will end up together—likely bolstered by Robin’s seemingly unsure reaction to Marshall informing her that Ted is at peace with the finality of their situation. If the show wasn’t built around the whole idea that they definitely won’t be together, this episode would excite me more than Desmond’s electric shock-induced return to Penny, J.D.’s cold shower realization that he was still in love with Elliot, or Shawn’s decision to move to New York with Cory (sorry, Topanga, but they belong together). But alas, it just feels kind of like a tease.
“Kids, when a door closes…well, you know the rest.” - Future Ted
Thus, we hang our hats on Barney and Robin. At the very
end of the episode, after Ted leaves Barney laughing alone in the bar, we see Barney reach for his phone. Now, there is no true indication that he’s calling Robin at this point. But come on. He is. She broke up with Kevin. Then, ended things “forever” with Ted. And now she moved out. And Ted’s “at peace” with it all. So, he’s calling her. I’m sure of it. There’ll be a signature HIMYM
flashback to the scene where it reveals that he called her at this moment. It’s got to happen. The wedding is just a few months away!
Do you think Barney was calling Robin at the end? Do you think Marshall is right about Ted and Robin finding their ways back to one another? Do you think Lily’s goes too far at times? Let us know in the comments section, or on Twitter @Hollywood.com