Unlike the title character in A Weekend with Bernie, How I Met Your Mother isn’t dead after all. Yes, there've been times this season when it sure seemed like the writers were moving around a dead body, trying to trick us into believing it was alive; the series is no stranger to donning sunglasses and pretending to dance just it can collect its ratings and go home. But the past couple episodes have proven that HIMYM not only still has some life left in it, but that the show also still has a few tricks up its sleeve.
Some of HIMYM's best episodes have been the ones that dealt in misdirection. As an audience, we would become invested in one storyline while failing to notice that the show was working on something else. In the Season 4 episode "Shelter Island," we got so caught up Ted trying to convince Stella that Robin should be at their wedding that we failed to notice that Stella was really warning Ted that she didn’t want her ex-husband there out of fear that they’d rekindle their relationship... which is exactly what we realized had happened the second we saw Robin watching Stella and Tony on the ferry together. The Season 6 episode "Bad News" pulled us into a storyline about Marshall worrying that he was the reason he and Lily couldn’t conceive, while HIMYM hid a countdown that ticked away the moments until it was revealed that Marshall’s dad, Marvin, had passed away.
I have a hunch that "The Over-Correction" was one of these episodes. HIMYM was busy trying to hold our attention with one hand by concealing Robin, Ted, and Lily in various parts of Barney’s house, showing off the many humorous ways Barney hides his books, while the entire time hoping we weren’t paying attention to what the other hand was doing.
After Barney and Patrice continued to date, with Barney even showing up at Worldwide News to—gasp!—take Patrice out lunch, Robin became suspicious of Barney, telling the rest of the gang that she believed this was either Barney crying out for help or Barney trying to win her over one last time. While her friends told her that this was Barney over-correcting—going from being engaged to Quinn, a stripper he couldn’t trust, to Patrice, a very kind woman he could talk to about anything—Robin couldn’t drop the idea that there was something else going on. Seeing as how Robin promised her friends that she wouldn’t do anything drastic, I guess that breaking into Barney’s apartment with a drill isn’t drastic.
Once in Barney’s apartment, Robin began searching for his Playbook, the key to showing Patrice that Barney wasn’t the nice guy she believed him to be. Through Robin’s search, we discovered that Barney hides his copy of The Bro Code under a samurai sword and his copy of David Lee Roth’s biography behind a print in his kitchen. Robin’s search was interrupted when Barney arrived home, sending Robin to hide in his bedroom closet. With Ted’s help, Barney was coaxed out of the apartment (thanks to the lie that Hugh Hefner was in the lobby), and Robin returned to her search, finding the Playbook in a compartment opened by pushing Barney’s Stormtrooper. No, that’s not a euphemism for some Star Wars sex move—Barney’s life-sized Stormtrooper was actually the trigger to reveal this certain hiding spot.
With Ted’s Hefner ruse proving false, a disappointed Barney returned to his apartment, causing Robin to jump back into the closet. At first, Ted refused to distract Barney again so Robin could escape, but Ted reconsidered after Robin informed him that she'd found Ted's red cowboy boots in the very closet Robin was hiding in. In turned out that while Ted thought their friend Stewart had borrowed and kept them, Stewart had actually given them back to Barney, who in turn held onto them in hopes of proving that a guy could get laid while wearing red cowboy boots. Robin's probably not-idle threats against Ted’s beloved boots lured Ted back into the apartment, but when Barney showed up, Ted ducked into the kitchen closet. With both Ted and Robin trapped in separate closets, Robin decided to call the one person she knew could get them out: Lily.
Unfortunately for them, Lily was already in Barney’s apartment, hiding in the bathroom. Overwhelmed by the lack of privacy in her own apartment, Lily had started sneaking into Barney’s apartment to pump breast milk and catch up on Barney’s Real Housewives recordings—even the reunion episodes. Lily joined Robin in the bedroom closet, where she tried to convince Robin to get rid of the Playbook. Robin took Lily’s advice in her own way, dumping the Playbook on Barney’s bed where Patrice would find it.
To both Robin and Lily’s surprise, Barney didn’t try to lie his way out of his Playbook confrontation with Patrice, instead telling her everything about it while admitting that he was trying to change and become a better person. Patrice stormed out of the bedroom, and Barney followed her to the porch, where they had a heated discussion. Robin and Lily scurried out of Barney’s bedroom and joined Ted in the kitchen closet. When Barney and Patrice returned to the kitchen, Barney did something surprising—he tossed his precious Playbook into the garbage and set the whole thing on fire. He and Patrice reconciled, then left the apartment to explain to Barney’s superintendent why the smoke alarm had gone off.
Despite everything she saw while trapped in Barney’s apartment, Robin couldn’t drop the idea that Barney and Patrice were up to something, insisting that they hold an intervention for Barney. When Robin showed up for that intervention, she found that Lily, Marshall, and Ted had turned the tables, staging an intervention for Robin instead.
So what was the other HIMYM hand up to during this episode? I don’t think Robin’s crazy. I think Barney and Patrice are working on what will turn into Barney’s last big push for Robin. I’m not saying I don’t believe that Barney and Patrice could ever be a couple—I’m just saying that I don’t think that’s what we’re seeing. Oh, it’s what HIMYM wants us to believe, but here’s the episode’s big tell: The closed-door porch discussion between Barney and Patrice. HIMYM isn’t a show that pushes stuff out of earshot without reason. There’s always a “more about that later” attached. While we were busy watching Ted, Robin, and Lily duck into Barney’s kitchen closet, Barney and Patrice were talking about something important on his porch.
If you ask me, Barney knew that Robin was in his apartment. I don’t believe for a second that Barney wouldn’t notice that someone used a drill to get break in, or that a guy who often videotapes his bedroom doesn’t have cameras set up in other rooms. When he burned the Playbook, he wasn’t putting on a show for Patrice—he was doing it for Robin. If Barney does have a secret plan, and that secret plan works, he won’t need the Playbook anymore.
While everyone else was hiding in Barney’s apartment, Marshall was dealing with some serious issues of his own. His mother had come to town, and despite Lily’s best efforts, was staying at their apartment. Before her ordeal at Barney’s, Lily had been Marshall’s mom’s sounding board on the topic of the Widow Eriksen getting back into the dating world. Lily completely endorsed the idea, but she probably wouldn’t have if she'd known who Judy would turn to. Yes, Marshall’s mom hooked up with Lily’s dad. And, yes, Marshall saw it happen. Thanks to an enlightened speech by Barney, Marshall, and Lily realized that their single parents should be with each other if it made them happy... no matter how repulsed they were by the idea.
NOTES & QUOTES
– How does “Borrowny” stack up to “Swarley” on the list of greatest Barney nicknames?
– I’m surprised Ted didn’t put a “PROPERTY OF TED MOSBY” label on his red cowboy boots. Maybe he got the boots after Barney borrowed the labelmaker.
– Someone needs to make a montage of Robin yelling at Patrice. We can add “Can’t you do anything right, Patrice?” and “Why won’t you let me help you, Patrice?” to the growing list.
– Watching Ted date an imprisoned woman as his over-correction would have been a thousand times more interesting than watching him spend time with Victoria this season. How did they meet? Are you allowed to give blue French horns to girls in prison? Did he tell her he loved her over one of those prison phones? So many questions...
– Marshall attempting to make his fish humor edgy: “Flounder? I barely know her!”
– While the potato chip/mayonnaise salad that Marshall’s mom made was disgusting, I’m highly intrigued by the idea of gummy bear pancakes.
– Robin trying to tell Patrice about Barney’s darker side: “Barney is not who you think he is... He has a book of plays he uses to trick women into sleeping with him.” Patrice: “Oh, no way. Barney's my honey bear.” Robin: “Actually, uh, one of his plays is called The Honey Bear. He dresses up like Winnie the Pooh, and the next thing you know, his head is stuck in your pot.”
– Nice to know that Judy’s idea of a sophisticated man is Mickey wearing a “Vote for Ted” hoodie with no pants on.
– Robin trying to lure Ted back into Barney’s apartment: “What if I told you I was looking at your red cowboy boots right now?” Ted: “Describe them.” Robin: “They’re red, and they’re cowboy boots.” Ted: “That’s them!”
– Marshall rebuffing Mickey’s attempt to get him out of the closet: “It’s not going to work, Mickey. My bladder is as big as your betrayal.”
– Barney and Patrice both have "Shot Through the Heart" as the first song on their "Get Psyched" mixes. Even if they’re not really dating, they should at least be friends. Keep Not Moby away from both of them.
– Barney on Mickey and Judy hooking up: “Respect to Mickey since your mom’s a piece—she’s no Ted’s mom, but she’s a piece.”
– Lily revealing that the intervention was for Robin: “Sweetie sit down.” Robin: “Uh, only the person getting the intervention sits down...” Marshall, Lily, and Ted: "Yeahhhh... ” Robin: “Oh. Please tell me this is about my drinking.” [Lily hands her a scotch.] Robin: “Dammit.”
– Mickey describing his relationship with Judy: “We’re family... with benefits.”