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