How I Met Your Mother "Unpause" Review: Truth and Consequences

By Kaitlin Thomas

Jan 21, 2014

How I Met Your Mother S09E14: "Unpause"

As a whole, Season 9 of How I Met Your Mother has been a bit all over the place, but I don't know that a single episode has been as wibbly wobbly as "Unpause." There were several elements that worked individually—the moments involving the Mother, for instance—and then there were moments that fell flat, like the truth serum drunk bit. This was definitely a transitional episode meant to simply move the plot forward, but it was clunky. When all the pieces came together to form the whole, it felt like several different episodes were being mashed together into one, and that's never good.

The Lily and Marshall fight was something that needed to happen, something that's been brewing for months (in our time, obviously), but I'm a little put-off by Marshall suddenly bringing up the fact that Lily left him for San Francisco as if it was an excuse for what he did. As Lily said, that was seven years ago, and while I have no doubt that Marshall carries those scars with him, there's been no indication that he hasn't forgiven Lily after all this time. To bring it up now feels like an awfully cheap shot, and I'm inclined to believe Lily was right in her indignation. But there's a flip side to that where I'm equally put-off by Lily not even listening to what Marshall had to say about the judgeship. She essentially declared that her dream was more important than his, and storming off in the middle of the night—right before her best friend's wedding, too—was rather childish. Neither Lily nor Marshall was right in this instance, and nothing will be right until they actually listen to one another and have a real discussion about their future.

The episode attempted to balance the heaviness of the fight with a lighthearted storyline involving Robin and Ted playing a game of truth with Barney, who got so drunk on the night before his wedding that he essentially could not tell a lie. But it wasn't particularly funny. And not even the few sincere moments in which Barney told Ted how happy he was to be marrying Robin could make the storyline work. It felt like the series was attempting to fill in a lot of random, unnecessary backstory bits—like what Barney does for a living—with silly callbacks, but none of it felt organic. I laughed several times during the episode, but it wasn't during the game of truth. I laughed when Marshall pulled out the keepsakes from Ted's mom's house, which was probably the only callback of the entire episode that felt genuine. It wasn't all that long ago in his timeline when he picked up the mug and the photo with the balloon, so it makes sense that he'd be eager to show them off, but it's definitely been months since we last saw them and I'd almost completely forgotten about them, to be honest. 

To make clunky matters more clunky, there were the flashforwards to the Mother that didn't really tie in to either of the game of truth or the fight. Yes, Ted tried to connect them with his mother's "nothing good happens after 2am" saying (another callback that I was happy to see return), but that was the only thing they had in common. I enjoyed those scenes because they hinted at the future: Ted, the Mother, and Penny (as the episode revealed), were all at the Farhampton Inn in 2017 when the Mother went into labor with their son, who we learned was named Luke. But other than the cute, cuddly moments between husband and wife, father and daughter, and mother and children, the flashforwards didn't really jive with the rest of the episode. 

It's not that I think these individual storylines don't deserve a place in the overall HIMYM mythology (well, the truth serum drinking bit could have ended before it began and I wouldn't have cared), but since they were strung together in one episode, it felt like each one was written by a different person, with no underlying theme to bring them together. "Unpause" was definitely an episode that needed to happen in order to bridge certain plots with future episodes, but I can't help but feel as if it could've been done in a better way. The emotional aspects of Lily and Marshall's fight, along with the sweet emotions tied to the scenes involving the Mother were wonderful, but the outcome of the fight—and the sheer stupidity of the truth bit—left a sour taste in my mouth. This might be the first episode featuring the Mother that I've disliked in any real way, but I guess that was bound to happen. And even with the disconnected storytelling, I'm excited to see where we go from here, because we should be coming up on the actual wedding day kind of soon, and there's no telling what could happen.



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  • tamaracassill Jan 29, 2014

    So nice to see Ted and his wify and his baby so happy aaaaawww

  • xxliveyourlife Jan 28, 2014

    I'm sorry but I highly disagree with your review.
    yes there were three stories and yes the didn't really have anything in common but I think this episode was way way better than the slap episode !!!!!
    we had a warm story between ted and the mother where we got to know their children's names. then we got barney, ted and robin, who thanks to barney's drunken state, got some answers out of him that we have been waiting for such a long time (i.e. his job). And then we got lily and marshall who argue. Here I must say that I 100 % agree with marshall!!!! even though that san franciso thing was years ago marshall had the right to bring that topic up because once again lily is being selfish, so I can understand where marshall is coming from. But I agree with you that it was very childish of her to run away like that.
    I love the final scene where barney talks to ted and confesses that he is so happy to marry robin. Because it shows how really broken barney has been.

  • vampman87 Jan 27, 2014

    This episode is PRECISELY why I am grateful for Slapsgiving III: Appointment in Slapmara. The writers gave us a quick reprieve from what was coming down the pike, and BOY did this episode hit hard. To be honest, Marshall did have a point: Lily abandoned EVERYONE for her dream to become a painter, and only returned because she sucked at it. But suppose she was successful? Marshall is right, Lily came back to New York because she didn't have anywhere else to go and it took her a few episodes to realize that Marshall is really "the One" and not just "the Safe One." So, in theory, would actually making it as an artist make Lily truly happy, or would she be rich, famous and miserable? As long as the road not taken is there, it will haunt Lily for the rest of her life and be in the back of Marshall's mind as it did now. If Lily TRUELY wants to put this behind her she should at east weigh the pros and cons of spending a year as a painter in Rome (her dream) vs Marshall becoming a judge (his dream) rather than dismissing Marshall entirely. True, I'm betting the guy who offered Marshall the job would've let Marshall have a day (or even a few hours) to discuss it with his wife, since Marshall did tell him he and Lily were planning on going to Rome, but I'm guessing the line "are you sure you want to be a judge?" probably caused Marshall to make the snap decision. Marshall is wrong for not asking for time to discuss it with his wife, but at the same time, Lily is wrong for dismissing Marshall's dreams and running away from the hotel hysterically rather than sitting down and discussing it rather than yelling. What makes matters worse is that we KNOW she's going to be coming back; she is seen dancing with Marshall at the end of "Band or DJ" when Ted meets the Mother.

    SPEAKING of Ted and the Mother, it was probably the first time seeing them together was "ok" instead of "fantastic." Nothing against the actors themselves, but rather placing them in this PARTICULAR episode just seemed to make it rather disjointed, especially considering the seriousness of Marshall and Lily's fight the scene before.

    Finally, Barney... Ahhh, Barney... seeing him Jabba Drunk was funny, but getting him Truth Serum Drunk was ALMOST what made this episode salvageable. I feel like they forced the humor on this, though, to balance out the Marshall/Lily drama. It's nice to finally have a LOT of questions answered (including what Barney does for a living.) and I like the Star Wars Episode 3 reference of Hippie Barney becoming Suit Barney, but the humor of this episode just doesn't work. Not when you've got a soap opera going on in the next room.

    I give Marshall and Lily's plot a C and the Barney subplot a B-. I was expecting this episode to be bad, which is why I am SOOOOOO grateful that we had Slapsgiving to let us prepare for this. But I've got a LOT of high hopes for the next episode, cause it'll be Mother-centric and we FINALLY get to see what she's been doing the past 8 and a half years! It's Cristin Milioti's time to shine, and I'm gonna need to wear shades!

  • johanngg9752 Jan 26, 2014

    I loved Jabba drunk Barney. Best "gimmick" Barney has had for a looooong time.

  • mattisyourhero Jan 25, 2014

    Kaitlin, you have such a strong disconnect from the majority of the viewership. You don't like it this week when we all do, and vice versa last week. Your reviews read more of a teenage groupie than someone who has an ability to evaluate the show. (cf. last week "I'd totally take a slap to the face for Neil Patrick Harris"; "if you didn't think that ending was great, then you just get out right now").

    Don't quit your day job.
    (and don't worry, I know I don't have to read them, and of course I'm not going to anymore)

  • kroggieplatter Jan 26, 2014

    I personally agreed with Kaitlin on both episodes. This episode felt a little bit off in timing and even the editing was rather weird. Surely its her job to illustrate that about the episode.

  • jerlouvis Jan 24, 2014

    I thought it was a very good review and I didn't find the episode particularly funny.

  • stylecutter Jan 24, 2014

    Ridiculous review. This was a very good episode, totally unlike the last Slap episode which was probably the worst episode in all of How I Met your Mother.

  • QMargo Jan 24, 2014

    I actually loved the parts with drunk Barney, especially about PLEASE!

  • niedermayer27 Jan 23, 2014

    This review really over-analyzes the show I think. It's a comedy, and I found it funny. Isn't that all that really matters? I enjoyed the truth serum bits. NPH is always hilarious.

  • JolarEQ Jan 23, 2014

    I had no issues with Marshall bringing up San Francisco, because he was right. She broke up with him to go and chase her own dream, no care in the world about how Marshall felt. And Marshall was ALSO right when he asked her if she would have stayed in SF if things had worked out. Now HIS dream is coming true, and she doesn't care. She still wants to follow hers. She had her chance, now it's Marshall's turn.

    I liked the Ted/Mother moments. It was nice, and gives a nice showing of things to come in their lives, things we're not going to get to see, since the show isn't "How I Met Your Mother and How We Spent the First Few Years of Marriage." So yeah, enjoyed that bit.

    I have to say, I loved the drunk Barney bit. Finally finding out what he does for a living - and seeing the flash-forward of his revenge - was priceless! But the best part of it? Saying that he loves Robin, that she (to use a tired cliche) completes him, that he just wants to make her happy? That was, hands-down, the best part of the drunk Barney. I know there have been people saying that he may not really love her completely, etc., but this proved that he does.

    I didn't mind the "disjointed" feel of the episode. I watched Friends from day one, and after a few seasons they had three story lines going at once per episode, so this was normal tv for me. ;)

  • perfectkitty Jan 25, 2014

    I liked the episode, too, though I do think Marshall was out of line. She was the one who helped him get through law school by working a job she tolerated, but was not her dream. And Marshall did admit when they began speaking again that they needed the time apart to figure out who they were as individuals. All in all, the decision he made without her input is something a husband or wife should discuss with their mate. Especially if it interferes with pretty heavy commitments and plans already made.

    You're right about the drunk scenes too. I think Ted really needed to hear Barney tell him in earnest how he felt about Robin.

    I like the fleeting glimpses of the mother and Ted as well, and I think it makes perfect sense to have them at the Farhampton Inn in the flash forwards. It represents an ending and beginning for Ted. Ted is putting on a brave face for his friends that weekend, but he is sad that the woman he believes to possibly be the love of his life is marrying one of his best friends. He plans to leave his beloved New York because of his feelings for Robin. Remember the big deal the hotel clerk made about his not really belonging there at the beginning of the season? Yet the place becomes very special to him. It's really sweet to know that something that is, despite his happiness for his friends, very sad for him personally will be the vehicle for his meeting the real love of his life. So Robin isn't the one, but it kind of brings the show full circle. Kind of a wobbly circle, but still...nice.

  • BestBobEver Jan 25, 2014

    Lily didn't put Marshall through school. His student loans did. However, Lily DID put them both into massive debt with her shopping addiction which she kept a secret for a good long while (which Marshall then had to suck up, take a job he hated in order to pay it off).

    Marshall pointing out San Francisco, happened only after she was unwilling to listen to him; indignantly stated they were going to follow her dream and her dream alone; AND was only after she said she couldn't believe how selfish Marshall was being. *THAT* was the out of line comment. Not Marshall's.

    Marshall's response was fair, given that people in glass houses shouldn't be throwing stones, especially when on the surface, dream career vs. dream 1 year job is no comparison. I'm not even sure it can even qualify as her dream. Lily's dream was to be an artist, not buy art for a random eccentric.

    Lily was in an indefensible position, and she knew it, which is why she ran out rather than try and work through it. To my memory, Marshall has never at any point been the selfish one until now, whereas there are plenty of instances where Lily has.

    Don't get me wrong, Marshall shouldn't have let this situation stew for as long as it did, but that is the only thing he did wrong here. And one could argue that he wanted to have the discussion in person, which given the timeline was impossible until now.

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