How I Met Your Mother "Last Time in New York" Review: Mandy Patinkin, Holla!

By Kaitlin Thomas

Oct 01, 2013

How I Met Your Mother S09E03: "Last Time in New York"


If last week's super-sized premiere was a reminder of how good How I Met Your Mother can be, this week's outing was a reminder that jokes about old people aren't that funny and can really bring down an otherwise heartfelt episode.

Tonight, Robin and Barney's relatives began to arrive for their wedding, and while Robin and Barney's relationship can be one of the stronger things about the series, everything about this particular storyline felt, well, really terrible. I'm sure jokes about the elderly can be funny, but that wasn't the case in "Last Time in New York." The oft-repeated "they're family, gotta love 'em" line never once landed because the remarks made prior to its delivery were flat. The Mandy Patinkin gag didn't work because Patinkin is a boss and I will fight anyone who dare says otherwise. And even though Neil Patrick Harris can often pull off a bad joke simply by being NPH and going all in, not even Harris can handle a broken yo-yo/drooping testicles quip. But it was nice to see him try.

The most frustrating aspect of Robin and Barney's storyline wasn't that the humor wasn't funny, but that the entire plot was driven by their mutual fear that once they're married, the magic and spark will cease to exist in their relationship. It's not an uncommon concern for sitcom characters to have, but since HIMYM turned it into a "one last bang before the wedding" story, it didn't have the emotionally manipulative ending option either. Yes, they're nervous about whether or not they'll still be this in love 60 years down the line, and why shouldn't they be? Their relationship hasn't exactly been smooth sailing, and their engagement came after an extended period of not being together. I'd be more worried if Robin and Barney weren't worried about their future as a couple. But there are better ways to address the issue than by making a bunch of jokes at the expense of buffets, 60 Minutes, and Mandy Patinkin.


While Robin and Barney were stuck in elderly hell, Ted and Lily spent some quality time together, which is always nice because their friendship goes back just as far as Ted and Marshall's, and because it's one we haven't gotten to see much of over the course of the last eight years. Alyson Hannigan and Josh Radnor have always worked well together, and tonight was no different.

Mistaking Ted's New York Bucket List for his wedding toast, Lily read it with the hope that she could get some ideas for her own speech. Instead, she found an itemized list of things that Ted wanted to do before he left Manhattan for Chicago. It included several Ted-like things, like saying goodbye to the Empire State Building, having drinks with his favorite students, buying a round for everyone at MacLaren's, coming clean about what happened on April 26 (which happened to be that he and Marshall were responsible for what happened to Lily's wedding rehearsal dress and not the drunk dry cleaners), and fixing the "Your a penis" graffiti on 96th and Amsterdam (totally reasonable). As Lily eventually pointed out at the end of the episode, Ted's list was not written by someone who was ready to move on from New York; it was written by someone who loves New York. 

Ignoring the fact that Lily probably should've been stumbling around and slurring her speech after all the drinks she'd consumed in the previous few hours, Lily was still able to give one last patented life lecture to Ted. She finally understood his reasons for leaving New York and was able to put aside her own feelings on the matter, but she also made him realize that his bucket list shouldn't be about saying goodbye to the things he loves, but about leaving the bad things behind, like his failed relationship with Stella. She told him, "The good things will always be here waiting for you." Even when she's supposed to be drunk, Lily still knows how to stick a landing.


NOTES

– Marshall is still marooned in his own personal hell, and seeing him so disconnected from everyone else is mine. I did appreciate his dislike for Wisconsin, and I also took comfort in Lily's bond with Daphne even though she'd never met the woman and Marshall had technically only known her a few hours. Typical Aldrin, but it also helped make Sherri Shepherd's character less of an outsider.

– Ted's been avoiding Barney because of his residual feelings for Robin. Once he'd worked up the courage to finally have that drink with Barney (and after Lily stole a new, untainted bottle of scotch), Barney dropped the bomb that he'd seen Robin and Ted at the carousel when they were searching for her locket. Which of course is where the episode ended. Hmmm.

– The callback to the sword fight of 2005 was nice, and I look forward to more of that sort of thing as the end of the series draws near. In that vein, seeing the montage of all the bad things in Ted's life over the course of the last eight seasons also worked on an emotional level. 

– Lily not knowing the proper words to Inigo Montoya's famous declaration in The Princess Bride must make Marshall so sad. 

– Ted in that old bathing suit was the best sight gag in awhile, and Robin's "Oh my, I found Waldo," line was successful because for the most part, Ted just sat there like a man and you almost forgot he was even wearing it.

– Robin and Lily's bastardization of that Glen McKenna scotch (which has been featured throughout the series and sadly does not exist in real life) made me die a little inside. I'm willing to ignore the fact that Robin would never do that to a bottle of scotch considering her own love for the drink, but I cannot get past the cheap whiskey, chocolate syrup, ketchup, and hand sanitizer. FOR SHAME. 

– The one part of Robin and Barney's storyline that I liked: Barney's girlish scream, and his insistence that whoever was behind him take Robin instead of him when James grabbed his shoulder at the ice machine. Girlish screams from dudes are always funny.

thekaitling:list:himym-howd-you-like-the-last-time-in-new-york/

 

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  • snakegriffin Oct 12, 2013

    I'm digging the heartfelt parts at the end of the episodes, hope they keep it up, & more Mother & Douchebag-Ted please! VESUVIUS! BOOYAH!

  • AmandaYpma Oct 07, 2013

    So many of these comments baffle and disgust me. If many of you hate the show and live only to complain about it then save us all your misery and simply stop watching. No one's holding a gun to your head making you watch the show week in and week out, and certainly nothing is compelling you to go online and rage against it. When there's something I don't like I just tune out rather than complain and hate on it and try to ruin it for everyone else. It's like some people live to be Debbie Downer!

    And the comments that Barney and Robin are "a terrible couple" and "don't even want to marry each other" really make me shake my head. You can dislike them together certainly. You can even want Robin with Ted (though if you do you've been wasting your time for the past eight seasons, as the writers were clear from the Pilot that was never going to happen). But there is no way based on the actual writing of the show that anyone should be thinking Barney and Robin are a terrible couple who don't love or want to marry each other. The show has spent the last 16 episodes (and really the entire series if you look at it collectively like you're meant to) demonstrating just the opposite. The writers have done nothing but show them as happily in love and an endgame couple on par with Marshall and Lily. I wish for once that people would stop pushing their own agenda and simply respect the writers' vision. This is Craig and Carter's show, not yours, and if you don't like their vision just stop watching.

  • luv70s Oct 04, 2013

    I think what Ted has feelings for is the best interests for Robin. I believe his issue is more to do with Barney and will HE make HER happy? He doesnt have the best track record with women and Ted wants to be make it his 'job to make her happy'.

  • RandomPandaGirl Oct 03, 2013

    I really enjoyed this episode. I'm from WI and all the comments about it were great. Plus I loved the sword fighting and Princess Bride stuff. Also I love Ted and Lily interactions and that they spent the whole episode together was great. Yeah Barney and Robin's part wasn't my favorite, but watcha gonna do?

  • cachomp Oct 03, 2013

    the thing about jokes of old people is that its...old. And boring and quite demeaning

  • pa-tan Oct 02, 2013

    Old people jokes in this episode were boooriiing.
    Iwas thinking the same... shouldn't Lily be really drunk rigth now? like singing on top of tables wasted. But yeah she delivered some nice lines and were truly heartfelt, and Iwas like I missed how insigthful Lily can be.
    Loved the list it was really Ted like, specially the part of Ted parting ways with Empy.
    And I really looking forward to Ted and Barney's conversation.

  • lilysophiaful Oct 02, 2013

    Sorry but I think this was a really good episode. I think the relationship between lily and Ted is beautiful and it was such a heartfelt moment. I'm curious to see what will happen in the next episode between Barney and Ted. I think this show is amazing

  • JT_Kirk Oct 02, 2013

    This episode was boring. Robin and Barney are now so boring that I can't stand even looking at them in a scene, and it seems like the whole season is just going to be characters paired off so as to give the other actors more time to work within their schedules - whoopie.

    The old people jokes missed every mark because they were toothless. HA! That's an old people joke. Anyway, they were lame and felt hollow mainly because the old folks were such a manufactured story element and manufactured jokes to go with. That's why the Mandy Patinkin jokes didn't work, they weren't germane to the context. And as you said, the context itself wasn't organic.

    Marshall's storyline needs to die a quick death, it's stale and repetitive and adds nothing. It also makes NO sense, why have him stop in Wisconsin if it's so important that he get to wedding in a timely fashion? But it's also just grating.

    I bet Barney will thank Ted for being a good friend or something equally cheap come the next episode.

  • vrcotier Oct 03, 2013

    Also grating just like cheese? HA! Wisconsin joke.

  • sleepy-sonic Oct 02, 2013

    Just three episodes in and I'm already tired of Barney and Robin and their wedding.

  • luv70s Oct 02, 2013

    I have to say that I have seen MANY negative complaints and whining lil brats not liking the direction the show is taking. Well, for one the show is not build on YOUR desires. And though we know the conclusion for the most part why not wonder and be curious of the adventure getting there? Its not what it was in earlier seasons but keep this in mind..ALL shows go through this.

    Yes, its lost most of its magic like every show that runs 7-8 seasons. It wont matter how good the show is it still runs it course.
    Yes, even Big Bang Theory (which has garnered over 20 million viewers this season already, will lose its magic!)
    The thing is that it is common, so (at least for me) it doesnt bother me since we all know the end is near. We were forewarned this was the LAST season so it lessens the blow.
    I watch because I enjoy it and not dwell on the fact that its been on the air for 8 (soon-to-be) nine years. Just enjoy the ride and allow the show do its thing. Its NOT that bad! Geez! There is much worse on tv and their longevity doesnt even come CLOSE to this show. It still deserves the respect and fans that its garnered, whether they are gone or still hanging on.

  • vespa4 Oct 02, 2013

    Jeez calm down

    ...Also, the big bang theory is shite

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