End Tag: At DOWISETREPLA, one year later, the gang gathers for Lily's birthday. Unlike tonight, Lily and Robin are dressed in clothes that make us wonder whether or not they could be pregnant. Only the fab five are onscreen, so if Don or the Mother have managed to stick around/show up, they don't seem to be present. Lily opens her photo album and shows Ted her 2010 birthday. She points to Amanda and says, "Ted, name that bitch." Ted: "Berth..uh. Bertha?" Lily says, "No. It was my birthday." Marshall: "Your brain makes associations in a very obvious way." Lily then gathers everyone for a group shot. Barney, who is still chewing, asks Robin what's in the dip she made. "It tastes like...cilantro, and you know that...cilantro...makes me snee..." Barney's body convulses as he sneezes. The camera works its magic. We see the shot of Barney, mid-flail." Robin shouts, "YES!" God says, "...dary."
Why It Gets an A-: As I said in the recaplet, I expected to hate this episode. At first, the premise bugs. Ted's faux pas and bad habits aside, Lily and Marshall's reaction to Amanda seems over the top -- nearly irredeemable. But then, that old HIMYM magic kicks in. The premise is subverted, and all the obnoxious behavior fades into the background (which reminds me, Barney is a flavor this week, not the only ingredient -- hurrah). This is my show. These are my people. This is why I watch. We all have inexcusable moments with our friends, but our best friends excuse even those. There are a few things that didn't work (the Natalie tie-in, baking a cake during the party, and I'm sure there's more, but) that, on reflection, made me consider changing my grade to a B+. But, as I've mentioned before, I try to grade sitcoms based on how I feel right after I watch them. They're not built for the same sort of heavy analysis some dramas and sci-fi shows are. They're built to make you laugh in the moment. So with that, I'm leaving my A- as is -- largely because I am so grateful for the break from the Barney Show.
Now, a lot of people seem to be coming down a lot harder on either Ted or Lily than I'm inclined to. Ted lived with Marshall, and then Lily and Marshall for years. Although I do think he should have checked when bringing a date to an intimate event, even though we didn't see any photos along these lines, I have to figure a lot of those get-togethers were in his own home. That's going to change his perspective on what sort of asking/notification is necessary. And for that matter, Robin lives with him, now. I can understand Ted not seeing a big difference between hanging at his place or MacLaren's with the gang, versus going out to dinner elsewhere or to a small party with them. And honestly, although Lily was over the top about her photos, and I would be happy if my birthday went by with nothing, I don't think Lily was a birthday brat. Yes, she loves her birthday, but she wasn't all, "This is my special day," about it. She was delighted by everything Marshall did for her (and Marshall gets way into doing for her) and she made no demands. Her demands regarding photographs seems to extend way past her Birthday Princess tendencies -- since she's just as het up about having outsiders in Christmas, Thanksgiving (see "Slapsgiving"), and other celebration group shots, as she is about her birthday picture.
To me, it was Marshall -- the one who spent so much time and energy trying to prevent/defuse the argument -- who went way the hell over the line. He's had umpteen years to tell Ted, "Hey, could it just be us this time -- please don't bring a date." He hasn't done it. People assume the status quo. If the issue of Ted bringing a date to these parties has never been raised, why would Ted think he had to ask, after all this time? Should he have asked, or at least let Marshall know Amanda was coming -- ahead of time? Absolutely -- for both his hosts' sake and his guest's sake. For one thing, it wasn't in his apartment; it was in DOWISETREPLA. For another, it was a dinner party. Depending on the menu, Amanda could have ended up feeling like a big jerk, even if she wasn't booted out. Still, his was a sin of omission, not commission. It was an unintentional faux pax, not an overt act. Marshall was out and out rude, and not only rude -- he was mean. He was playing a different game entirely than either Lily or Ted.
That said, I liked that Marshall was the one who lost it. It keeps him more real. He's better when he's just good enough to be true, rather than too good to be true. I'm going to skip ranting about how I'm tired of words like skank and bitch on this show, much like I skipped my slut rant, last time. Just know I'm thinking it. It's my husband's birthday, and I have to get this tocaor out of here - 'cause I don't like how he's eyeballing my man. 'Til next time, join us in the forums, where you can have your skanks and eat cake too.