Community may be the format-juggling show du jour, but How I Met Your Mother has been playing the continuity game for seven seasons now with a mostly perfect hit rate. Of course “mostly perfect” means that every so often you get a clunker, and last night’s episode was just that.
At least part of tonight’s story was first hinted at in last season’s “The Mermaid Theory,” when we saw Ted entering the bar in a green dress, declaring, “Now we’re even!” And so came the genesis of “Now We’re Even.” When married to rich and deeply felt stories, HIMYM‘s time jumps and cuts can feel like nothing else on television. But, unfortunately, sometimes they can just as easily turn into straitjackets.
In fairness, the episode itself wasn’t altogether bad. It just wasn’t anything, really. Ted and Robin moved incrementally toward patching up their friendship; Marshall learned (as though he didn’t already) that he needs to just accept some of Lily’s pregnancy craziness. Barney acknowledged that he maybe loves Quinn… but to Ted, not Quinn, and in an episode that barely featured the latter. At this point in the season, three episodes from the finale, we feel like we’re just treading water.
Of course Ted’s been doing that for a while now, ever since his declaration of love for Robin earlier this season. Without any mother breadcrumbs to follow or real romantic entanglements, he’s taken a backseat to Barney/Quinn and Lily’s pregnancy. Maybe this isn’t an inherently bad thing — while Ted is the main character AND narrator, HIMYM can be carried by any of the five leads. But when Ted’s role in an episode is basically saying “Oh, Barney!” to his incorrigible friend… you start to wish someone would light a fire under the guy’s ass.