The episode starts and ends with Barney being interviewed by the police, right after they pull him from Hudson River. We're led to believe he threw himself in over some dame. A dame who dares to say no. That dame's name? Jennifer Lopez. Well, actually, her character's name is Anita Appleby, but here she's still Jenny from the block. J.Lo's Anita is the author of a series of Rules-type books, such as Of Course You're Still Single: Take a Look at Yourself, You Dumb Slut. By saying no to a guy or a jerk (there's no difference, don't you get that, you dumb slut) one turns him into "a submissive, sniveling puddle of a man." SEXAY, right? Of Course.
Anyhow, Barney sets out to get J.Lo to say yes, even enlisting Ted to help him plan a "Super Date" meant to break J.Lo's 17-dates-before-sex rule. What the boys don't know, is that Jen is totally on Team Robin. The women met when Robin interviewed her about her book, and after the segment, cried about Barney's post-breakup insensitivity. J.Lo tells her, "You say the word, and I will destroy him." After listening to more crowing about Barney's sexcapades, Robin calls J.Lo and says that word (actually, two words: "do it," which Barney, Of Course turns into a double entendre).
The B-plot revolves around Robin, in part, because Marshall, Of Course, is determined to get her and Don together. But more importantly, it features Marshall, and then Ted, and then Barney coming to terms with how insensitive they've been by rubbing Barney's pathological sex life in Robin's face, since the breakup. Barney's realization even prompts him to confront Robin. During their conversation, he -- Of Course -- swears she was never just another number to him, and promises he won't sleep with J.Lo. Of Course his "no" turns J.Lo into a submissive, sniveling puddle of a woman, who is more Team Self than Team Robin, and all too ready to abandon her standards and sleep with Barney even before dinner, never mind a predetermined number of dates. Her final proposition is so dirty, we never get to hear what it is -- which is, Of Course, why he throws himself in the river. But he keeps his promise, 'cause it's different, he has a soul now, or something. And Robin and Don, Of Course, go on the Ted-planned Super Date.
Why it gets a B-: this was a tough episode to grade. It's amusing -- entertaining and certainly better than the last couple of outings. The cast is a well-oiled machine. They make even a lackluster story better than it ought to be (and the glorious NPH makes Barney shine, even when he's no more than a pig rolling in his own shit). They hit every note in "Of Course" and Jennifer Lopez more than holds her own, too. But while I understand that it is necessary to see the Anita character hoist with her own petard, having Barney responsible for her undoing leaves a bad taste in my mouth, perhaps because his character has gone nearly rancid, this year. Also, the "lesson" he learns here is too little, and far too late in the season, even though there have been a handful of moments setting up this episode, since the breakup. I can't grade it as just a stand-alone, because this sitcom's claim to fame is its serial elements and continuity, and this episode draws heavily from that well.
Supposedly, Bays and Thomas broke up Robin and Barney so quickly in order to get the show back to normal. But it's still not there. It went from all about Robin and Barney to all about Barney, and in the course of things, Barney has become a shadow of his former self. Now we learn Robin has been crying over him, even while moving toward something new with Don. And Don? I'll get to him in the weecap. In the end, I'm left feeling like the writers are calling us all dumb sluts for our disappointment, because Of Course they planned to examine the fallout of Barney and Robin's breakup, all along. Well, this dumb slut never doubted that, she's just not satisfied with the execution.
I hate to close on that note, so I'll mention that the high points for me are Ted's "Super Date" song, and Marshall's "Bang Bang Bangity Bang" ditty (which really is catchy). I have mixed feelings about its use in the end tag, which I'll hit in the weecap, so check back tomorrow. In the meantime, come on over to the forums, [insert your own joke about TWoP's rules, here].
After hitting up the forums, brush up your Barney in our HIMYM Dictionary.
Saget!Ted opens the episode, sans kids. "Kids, on a warm March evening in 2010, a New York City Police boat pulled a 34-year-old white male out of the Hudson River -- your Uncle Barney." Huh. I'd always heard that stuff floats. We see Barney sitting on a bench by the banks of America's Rhine. The female cop (Joni Bovill), who is probably younger than he, takes out her notebook. "All right kid, let's hear the story -- from the beginning." Barney wrests the narration reins from Saget!Ted, and makes like a film noir protagonist. "Well, it all started a week ago." We flash back to...
MacLaren's: Barney continues: "I was making time at the local watering hole. Enter: a dame." The camera starts at her shoes and pans up slowly to reveal the lovely and talented Jennifer Lopez. She is a vision in royal blue, by the way -- a fresh, healthy golden girl -- as curvaceous as ever. The crew blows back her hair with a fan, but she looks so faboo, I almost want to believe her hair naturally does that, whenever she chooses, even when she's indoors. Then again, I'm also given to indulge in the fantasy that real-life conversation with La Lopez sounds just like it reads on the Fug Girls' site, even though I know better. Anyhow, J.Lo saunters up to the bar and she and Barney begin their flirtatious banter, which they later carry back to...
Barney's Apartamento: J.Lo is muy touchy-feely with El Barnacle. "Barney, when I get in bed with a man, my body becomes a machine fueled by desire, lust, and a singular hunger to satisfy my lover's every carnal need." Barney cracks that it's a good thing the cleaning lady is coming tomorrow, but that's not what matters. What matters is what comes next. J.Lo leaves him there, stewing in his own juices. As she's on her way out the door, he says, "I thought your body was going to become a machine, fueled by desire, lust, and a singular hunger to satisfy my every carnal need." J.Lo flips her hair as she turns back to look at him. "No." And she's out the door. BOOYAH!
Marshall and Lily get to meet Don when Robin brings him to MacLaren's. After he leaves, Marshall can't stop singing his praises. This could be the beginning of a beautiful bromance. Anyhow, Lily encourages Robin to take a dip in the dating pool, as it's been four months since her breakup with Barney. Marshall echoes the sentiment, adding that Barney's dating (that's dating?) again and couldn't be happier. In a predictable bit of juxtaposition, we cut to...