Like a box of assorted Tim Hortons Timbits, this week’s How I Met Your Mother was a deliciously enjoyable experience. "P.S. I Love You" didn't do much to advance the show's mythos, but it was probably one of the funniest episodes of Season 8 thus far.
After failing to get a girl’s attention on the subway, Ted went full Mosby, broke out both his yellow legal pad and his backup yellow legal pad, and started trying to figure out how to find his mystery subway girl. The girl, played by Abby Elliott, ended up finding Ted instead. With the aid of her own yellow legal pad and investigative skills, she—Janette—tracked Ted down at work, something that his friends pointed out was pretty stalkerish.
That's when HIMYM introduced us to yet another theory about life: the Dobler-Dahmer Theory. As Ted explained, there’s a fine line between love and insanity, and the Dobler-Dahmer Theory determines whether or not you should be worried. If the person trying to find you is a Dobler, she’s just like John Cusack’s character in Say Anything: You might find her outside your window with a boom box, but there’s nothing to be afraid of. If the person trying to track you down is a Dahmer, as in Jeffrey Dahmer, you should be concerned.
The talk of stalkers made Robin uncomfortable, and she revealed to her friends that she had once stalked someone to the point of being hit with a restraining order. When Robin wouldn’t reveal her target, Barney broke into her apartment, rifled through her diaries, and set off to Canada to discover just who this person was.
From this point on, P.S. I Love You became HIMYM’s Mount Waddington-sized ode to Canada. Barney began meeting with Robin’s exes in a Tim Hortons. If you’re not familiar with the restaurant chain, think Dunkin' Donuts but Canadian. (Seriously, they’re named after a famous Canadian hockey player.)
The chain of Robin’s exes lead Barney to Simon, Robin’s former boyfriend and Sandcastles in the Sand co-star, who advised Barney to check out the Robin Sparkles episode of MuchMusic’s Underneath the Tunes series. (MuchMusic is a real thing. It’s Canada’s MTV.) Returning to America, Barney tracked down a copy of the show and gathered the gang to watch it.
It turns out that Robin’s career as a Canadian pop star ended after she became obsessed with an unnamed guy, adopted the grunge personality of Robin Daggers, and sang "P.S. I Love You," her grunge song, at the 1996 Grey Cup. (Also a real thing. It’s Canada’s Super Bowl.) The event destroyed Robin’s career and to this day is remembered as a national tragedy. With cameos from Paul Shaffer, Jason Priestley, Luc Robitaille, Alex Trebek, the Barenaked Ladies’ Steven Page, k.d. lang, Rush’s Geddy Lee and Dave Coulier, the Robin Sparkles episode of Underneath the Tunes documented her awful her downward spiral into grunge, but failed to shed any light on the identity of her mysterious stalkee. When Coulier hinted that it may have been Alan Thicke, Barney tried to fight the TV icon, but got his ass kicked instead... while Thicke ate a Tim Hortons donut.
After Barney admitted that anyone could become obsessed with someone else, Robin agreed to reveal the object of her obsession was. "P.S. I Love You" was about... Paul Shaffer. With his initials in the song title, the answer had been there all along.
I guess we should talk about Ted’s storyline in this episode too, since it triggered this latest (and final?) installment of the Robin Sparkles tale. Thanks to the prodding of Marshall and Lily, Ted was forced to dig deeper into Janette’s meet-cute story about finding him on campus. That small matter of the fire drill, which brought Ted outside after security wouldn’t let Janette into the dorm? Janette actually pulled the fire alarm. That teensy fact that there wasn’t a fire alarm in the lobby to pull? Turns out Janette actually set a fire in a garbage can to set it off. But instead of running the opposite direction, Ted decided to dig further into Janette’s story. She'd gotten Ted’s attention on the subway because she was reading the same book as Ted, a book that she bought at the very same bookstore as Ted, just after he'd purchased his copy. Janette eventually revealed that she'd been following Ted since she saw him on the cover of New York Magazine... a year-and-a-half ago. So that's when Ted bolted, right? Nope. With Ted’s narration instructing us that “Before a man meets the woman he’ll marry, he’ll make one final, horrible mistake”—and that for Ted, that mistake was Janette—the couple started making out.
Janette is clearly crazy, something Ted will have to deal with in next week’s episode. Until then, grab yourself a chocolate-glazed Tim Hortons donut and a Labatt Blue and enjoy the fact that Elliott’s character is Ted’s final girlfriend before he meets his future wife.
NOTES & QUOTES
– I loved the Dahmer version of Marshall’s “Will you go out with me?” song to Lily. It balanced sweet and dark to achieve just the right amount of creepiness.
– Ted after realizing he'd been tricked by Marshall and Lily: “Hold on— I’m beginning to think you guys didn’t come here to see my new lectern.”
– Barney: “No. I’m not Canadian. Not even a quarter canadian on my father’s side. Shutup. We’re not talking aboot me. About me. Whoa.”
– One of Robin’s exes mentioned that there are horrible family secrets on Robin’s mother’s side of the family. Will we learn more about those secrets?
– Barney on the allure of Tim Hortons: “They’re just donuts. Okay. They’re like two for a loonie. Dollar. What’s happening?”
– Dear Robin Daggers, I kind of love you.
– Trebek on Robin Sparkles’ Grey Cup performance: “That day is now known in music history as the day grunge was born.” Ted: “In 1996? In Canada? That seems right, Trebek …” Marshall: “Give him a break. He’s not a music guy.” Rush’s Geddy Lee: “That day is now known in music history as the day grunge was born.” Marshall: “Well, that’s a bummer.”
– Page: “To this day, if you ask Canadians where they were when Robin Sparkles lost it, not only can they tell you what Tim Hortons they were in, but what donut they were eating.”
– Priestley on what donut he was eating at that moment: “Crammed a Timbit into a strawberry-vanilla and invented the Priestly. Should've been the best day of my life.”
– Coulier on whether or not "P.S. I Love You" was about him: “It wasn’t me. Why does everyone always think it’s me?” I think "You Oughta Know" the answer to that one, Dave …
– Thicke on who "P.S. I Love You" was about: “I dunno. I always thought it was Coulier.” Couiler: “It wasn’t me. Stop asking. Geez. Cut. It. Out.” Bob Saget breaking character to shatter the HIMYM-Full House continuum: “Heh. I always liked that joke.”