As the title suggests, “Weekend at Barney’s” opens with an extended homage to Weekend at Bernie’s, which more or less tells you everything you need to know about the level of humor in the episode. Turns out, this not-so-bodacious ‘80s nightmare is a literal nightmare taking place in Barney’s head; even though he burned the
Silver Linings Playbook a few episodes back before popping the question to Robin, the memories of the elaborate cons he used to run to obtain sex still haunt his mind. His fiancée tries to appeal to his better nature (it’s in there somewhere), reminding him that it took an act of book burning to make her realize that Barney was “someone I could marry.” (And hey, if setting books on fire is the key to unlocking Robin’s heart, there’s a publicity-hungry pastor down in Florida she could hook up with if and when this fling with Stinson goes south.) Those soothing words bring him back down to Earth and off once again to Slumberland… until his subconscious remembers that they made a Weekend at Bernie’s II, something that Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Silverman have been trying to forget for the past twenty years.
Credits. If that’s the best the writers have for a cold open, we’re in for a looooong 22 minutes.
The gang assembles at MacLaren’s for their weekly exposition meeting before they all spin off into their separate storylines. Lily reveals that she’s bound for a fancy schmancy gallery opening as part of her new (and obviously fake) job as the Captain’s personal art buyer. (So has she quit her kindergarten gig at this point? For the children’s sake, I certainly hope so.) One might think that Marshall would volunteer to stay at home and take care of their poor, neglected child, who probably assumes his teddy bear is his daddy at this point. But no! The big lug is tagging along with Lily so he can annoy the cool artist types with his cheerfully obnoxious sense of humor. They turn up at the opening (allowing the production team to re-use the same are show set from last week, just slightly re-dressed) and, as you might expect, Marshall makes an ass of himself, sitting on artwork, mispronouncing “van Gogh” and dropping a bag of smuggled-in Skittles all over the floor. But because How I Met Your Mother ultimately prizes philistinism above all else, Marshall’s art-world ignorance comes in handy when an offhand comment about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles catches the attention of the artist Lily has come to woo and the two bond over their shared affection for armed reptiles named after art world icons. If Lily’s plan is to secretly bankrupt the Captain by making him invest in flagrantly terrible painters, she’s off to a bang-up start.
Meanwhile over in Ted-land, Abby Elliott’s Jeannette is still in the picture, which explains why Grandpa Mickey is nowhere to be found, since the show can’t afford two Elliotts at the same time. And while Ted realizes that he’s dating a crazy person, the great sex that accompanies dating a crazy person keeps him calling the whole thing off. But having sex with a non-crazy person really isn’t doing it for Jeanette, so she breaks up with Ted, who then sets about trying to win her back, especially seeing as how she’s his +1 to Robin and Barney’s wedding. Barney’s appropriately horrified at the thought of Ted reconnecting with Jeannette, primarily because it violates his one rule (well, okay, one of his many “one rules”) that new is always better. So to steer his pal towards other willing females, Barney pulls out the last surviving copy of his Playbook -- what… you’re surprised he had a back-up? -- and forces Ted to run a few plays, without even a modicum of success. But all this hitting on other women does bring Jeannette back into the picture, at least temporarily. Her crazy-meter goes off again upon discovering the Playbook and she destroys it for good (after destroying Ted’s apartment) by strapping on some fireworks and tossing it out the window, to the strains of CCR’s “Long As I Can See the Light.” Aw, man -- they invoked the holy Creedence for that? Is nothing sacred anymore?
So, in conclusion, the Playbook is now really and truly gone and repeating a storyline that only happened eight episodes ago was totally necessary, because destroying the same book for a second time taught Barney and Robin semi-new things about themselves. Robin, for one, comes to learn that her entire relationship with Barney is built on lies and deceit and that’s okay because he wuvs her deep down. And Barney learns that he can get along just fine without a physical copy of his beloved book, because he’s got both Robin and a digital copy of it stored somewhere. (Okay, so that’s not actually stated in the episode, but you know he does.) So glad the writers felt those heartwarming and entirely surprising revelations were worth devoting an entire half-hour to. 18 episodes down, six to go... for this season.
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