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Even with Ted and Marshall having had too many sandwiches, nothing could shake the fact that this week’s episode of How I Met Your Mother was about as dramatic and soap opera-y as they come — and need I mention downright sad?
I never bought in to the Barney and Robin relationship in Season 5, which was perhaps the show’s worst season, but damned if Neil Patrick Harris hasn’t completely sold it now. Regardless of how you feel about their compatibility as characters, this tenth episode of Season 7 has swapped your tickets and reseated you in the Barney and Robin cheering section whether you like it or not.
The writing of How I Met Your Mother has generally opted for emotional sneak attacks, but “Tick Tick Tick” refuses to disguise anything. After last week’s Barney-Robin kiss, while the characters could try and pretend nothing happened, the writers knew they couldn’t string it out that way. Instead, they’ll string it out in a way none of us expected: with Barney as a lover scorned.
From the very beginning of the episode, the driving question was poised to be whether Barney and Robin would break off their relationships with Nora (Nazanin Boniadi) and Kevin (Kal Penn) respectively. This rendered everything on Sandy Rivers’ (Alexis Denisof) boat party completely ineffective in terms of alleviating the tension. The bit with the band singing a song to them about telling their significant others they cheated was a waste as were all of Sandy’s plays at the new intern. That’s what happens when you open the episode on a dramatic note and try and backpeddle.
On the other side of things you have Ted, Marshall and Lily going to Groove-A-Palooza and Ted and Marshall deciding to “have some sandwiches” before the concert despite Lily telling Marshall that it’s not what a responsible father-to-be would do. Their adventure to get Lily nachos was mostly predictable given that the perception of time had already clearly been made the episode’s theme, but it was nevertheless clever. The minute-long security tape version of their nacho adventure was still a riot and the cherry on top was that the creepy guitar man was actually a cardboard cut-out and Ted got his nachos from the garbage.
But let’s cut back to the Barney and Robin debacle (seeing as the concert was merely a distraction). When they can’t pull the trigger as they agreed upon while on the boat and decide to break up with Nora and Kevin later that night instead, you knew something was up. Either only one of them or neither of them were going to make it to MacLaren’s for the midnight rendezvous, and if for none of the obvious reasons than just the reason that they decided to meet at MacLaren’s at midnight. My guess was going to be that both would find different reasons for not getting there/calling off their relationships, but the writers were smart (albeit cruel) to go for the emotional chess play and leave Barney at the altar, so to speak. Funny how Ted actually being left at the altar by Stella in Season 4 didn’t have nearly the same impact.
Good riddance, though, as far as Nora being gone. There’s the slight chance Barney tries to appeal to her one last time now that he’s been spurned, but let’s hope that Boniadi is done with the show (no offense to her, but who was buying her character’s longevity?) and Barney tries to rebound the old-fashioned way by reverting to his womanizer self. It would ruin lots of progress for his character in the past season or so, but considering the psychological hand he’s just been dealt, reversion seems the most likely as it’s how he’s dealt with all his biggest problems.
Also, a smart play to have Ted catch Barney cleaning up the romantic surprise he prepared for Robin at the end. It might have been another emotional sucker punch for us, but we know Ted is going to have to be the one to right this ship, though it’s bound to take awhile as Robin will want to stay faithful to Kevin considering how great he’s been to her and Barney will be in total emotional denial. If Ted pulls it off, you have to think that doing so would be Best Man material, right?
So while I don’t like being manipulated into rooting for the Barney and Robin thing to happen, I have to give credit to the show for doing so effectively and setting up a good trajectory for the rest of the season as far as resolving this subplot once and for all. As much as a lot of things were off from a humor perspective, the effectiveness of the episode wasn’t lost and Season 7 continues its winning streak.