Ron P. Jaffe/Fox
I've heard complaints since September — from Internet commenters and the rare human being I brave contact with — about the wedding weekend parameters of the final season of How I Met Your Mother. Personally, it works for me. I've grown weary of the lazy stories tied to the apartment, MacLaren's, and the external shot of the staircase leading up from MacLaren's to the apartment. There's a new life force in this final season, and it is thanks in part to the urgency inherent in the matrimonial setting. Of course, that isn't to say that an occasional break from that routine can't be fun: "Slapsgiving 3: Slappointment in Slapmarra" proves just how much fun it can be.
Throwing all guise of realism out the window, "Slapsgiving 3" might well be the most absurd episode of How I Met Your Mother in years, possibly ever. Admist a MacLaren's flashback, Marshall institutes a second flashback (Inception!) to his tutelige in Shanghai under the three greatest slappers in the history of mankind. A triad of warriors who have trained him in the mastery of the perfect slap so that he might bequeath the skeptic Barney with more pain than he might imagine.
An episode devoted to Community levels of trope parody, How I Met Your Mother banks more on the viewers' familiarity with Kill Bill: Volume 1 than with the movies to which Kill Bill: Volume 1 owes its own identity. But the 30 minutes of nonsense — a completely fabricated account of Marshall's year-long stay in Shanghai, training under these three mystical sages, and love affair with the 106-year-old White Flower — is quite a funny, extremely silly good time.
That doesn't mean the episode won't be exempt to criticism. The complete abandonment of the narrative might ruffle a few feathers. More so, questions are raised upon catching glimpse of Cobie Smulders, Alyson Hannigan, and Josh Radnor dressed up in mythical Chinese garb and affecting accents to an eyebrow-raising degree. But it's less a racial joke than it is a cinematic one.
We're not quite sure if this closes the door on the slapping game for How I Met Your Mother. Yes, there is one more slap to go, but only a few weeks left in the series... two independent slaps so close together? That's unprecedented! We're more inclined to believe that we might leave the gang with the one slap hanging over Barney's head forever. Or maybe we'll catch up with the gang in an epilogue scene that shows a 50-year-old Marshall breaking Barney's jaw with his monstrous palm.
Next week, we'll return to form (or this show's equivalent to form). But for a brief break in the monotony, "Slapmarra" was the sort of silly bit of fun to cap How I Met Your Mother's favorite running gag.
How I Met Your Mother airs Monday nights at 8 PM on CBS.