How I Met Your Mother "Weekend at Barney's" Review: Burn, Baby, Burn

How I Met Your Mother S08E18: "Weekend at Barney's"

How I Met Your Mother is built around the concept of building up a story with the promise that there will be a payoff, and that that payoff will be worth our time. To borrow a phrase from Lost’s Sawyer, HIMYM is a big fan of the Long Con... except hopefully we’re not getting conned. The series has crafted an extensive mythology, with some of its storylines requiring several weeks/episodes to reach fulfillment. The plot of "Weekend at Barney’s" was not one of those storylines.

In a season of HIMYM that’s been largely about bringing long-running storylines to a close, "Weekend at Barney’s" gave us two of its best segments so far, both of them featuring just one character absolutely nailing a joke.

It’s easy to forget that HIMYM was once a show that centered on Josh Radnor’s Ted Mosby, and the fact that Radnor is an excellent and funny actor himself often gets lost in the noise created by the rest of the talented cast. Watching Ted run The Kidney, the second play being coached by Barney, was one of my favorite moments of the season. After getting dumped by Jeanette, his crazy girlfriend, Ted agreed to let Barney help him find a new plus-one for the upcoming Barney-Robin nuptials, which led to Barney breaking out the Playbook once again. (As it turned out, Barney only burned a "ceremonial" copy of the Playbook earlier in the season.) Barney first had Ted run The Special Delivery, a basic maneuver that required Ted to dress up as a delivery man, pick a pretty girl in the bar, and try to give her a package. Unfortunately, Ted couldn’t execute the final line: “How about I give you a different package? My penis.”

Undeterred, Ted returned to MacLaren’s in a medical gown to run The Kidney. When Ted realized that the play ended with the line, “How I about I give you a different organ?,” Ted refused to finish it. While speaking to Barney via his earpiece, Ted repeatedly stated “I understand that” in a completely deadpan fashion, and Radnor killed the scene, reminding us that HIMYM doesn’t alway need an elaborate joke to bring the laughter. By the time Ted finally mumbled, “My penis,” I was dying. HIMYM used to be revolve around simple jokes like this, highlighted by its actors, but after the show became secure in its place in CBS’s lineup around Season 3, the show's focus shifted to guest stars and massive setups.

Jason Segel had to do even less than Radnor in his show-stealing scene. With Lily now working as The Captain’s art expert, she and Marshall went to check out Strickland Stevens, an up-and-coming artist. After Marshall’s jokes about art fell flat at the gallery (maybe he should’ve fallen back on his fish-related standup act), Marshall decided to stand in the back of the room and quietly support Lily as she worked. Strickland, during a speech to those in attendance, asked the room for a moment of silence in memory of his grandmother, to whom he was dedicating the show.

Now, I should mention that Marshall, who'd worried that the gallery wouldn’t be serving food, had smuggled in a large bag of Skittles. It broke just a few seconds into the moment of silence, loudly spilling onto the gallery floor. Despite the noise, Marshall remained perfectly still.

Like Radnor in his MacLaren’s scene, Segel made this joke work. As Marshall, Segel often earns laughs through the character’s boisterous nature, but in "Weekend at Barney’s," Segel had to purposely do nothing. And that was worth more jokes that Marshall finding his inner goddess could ever deliver.

Mythology wise, "Weekend at Barney’s" did two big things. First, it brought Barney and Robin closer together. While Barney was running plays with Ted, Robin caught him with the real Playbook. The couple had a small fight, but Barney convinced Robin that, despite his lies and illusions, his biggest truth is that he loves her. I was worried that HIMYM was going to toy with the couple again, so I’m glad the writers chose to just make this a tiny bump in the road to their wedding.

Second, as HIMYM teased a few weeks ago, Jeanette’s insane ways finally caused Ted to declare that he was done dating, that the time had come for him to settle down. Even though Jeanette had dumped Ted at the beginning of the episode, she found him at MacLaren’s while he was trying to run another play. The two went back to Ted’s apartment, where Jeanette also found the Playbook. In contrast to Robin—a rational person who could be reasoned with—Jeanette went ballistic. The gang returned to Ted’s place to find him sitting on the curb while Jeanette trashed his apartment and threw most of his belongings out the window. The Playbook and Ted’s infamous red cowboy boots were both victims of Jeanette’s rampage, with each item going up in flames. Now that the red cowboy boots gone, all that Ted has left to pull off is making good on his declaration to finally settle down.


NOTES & QUOTES


– Confession: I’ve never seen Weekend at Bernie’s. When this episode began, I was worried that much of it would depend on understanding the references to the film. Luckily that didn’t happen.

– Canada alert: Robin was wearing a Vancouver Canucks T-shirt to bed.

– Marshall trying to make art jokes: “Why couldn’t the art dealer pay his rent? Because he ran out of Monet.” Stick to the fish jokes, Marshall.

– Robin response to Ted using his plus-one to bring Jeanette to the wedding: “If you count the voices in her head, it’s plus five.” This isn’t the first time Ted has had issues with a plus-one.

– In case you needed more reasons to believe that Jeanette was crazy, she got bored and started going through Ted’s emails. Upon seeing a message that she later realized was actually just penis-enlargement spam email, Jeanette smashed Ted’s plates, peed on his mattress, and left an upper-decker in his toilet. This woman is a cop? I’m a bit concerned about New York City’s screening processes when it comes to allowing people to join the police force.

– No matter what he did to try to explain the Weekend at Barney’s play to Robin (“The movie is called Weekend at Bernie’s ... my name is Barney.” “Um, a little thing called rigor mortis.”), Robin wasn’t buying Barney’s justification for the Playbook.

Comments (31)
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Great piece.
I think you're absolutely right, the show has changed it's focus on simple jokes around mid season 3.
The big set-ups and guests stars era wasn't that bad, but didn't live up to the pace and chemistry of the first 3 seasons. I want to see more of that.
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Ehh this episode had many good things going for it but it didnt seem to click. I think last weeks episode was far superior. I'm glad we are done with the Playbook, red boots and Jeanette now what worries me is that they will stretch out this storyline too long.
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it would be nice if we can see more focus on ted and his love life after this long time.the story is more into barney n his tricks.i feel good about that but c'mon,afterall it's about ted finding for his true love n the session is going on at the end n we just have to wait for long long time by now.Atleast, let's see some love for ted....
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The Episode is one of the best of the season as the entire cast delivered througout the episode. Ted and Barneys run of the playbook was hilarious especially the Kidney. Marshall was amazing and his stoic posture during the moment of silence got me laughing out loud.

So Happy Jaenette is gone and we can finally meet the mother in the next episode.
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Did they say anything about meeting the Mother in the next episode ? If so haven't heard of it... Whatever happens i just want more focus on Ted for the rest of the season.
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What bothers me i that Himym has come to a complete alteration of the storyline. What i mean is that this show is meant to be about Ted, and the way he'll find the love of his life. That's what's the main theme of the show, and yes they did a very good job keeping the show going without revealing her. What i'm saying though is that nowmore the show has lost some of its interest, it's more about Robin and Barney than Ted whom is undergoing a big alteration since he was supposed to be the romantic one. Every character in the first three amazing seasons had his own interest point:
Ted: The quest to find the one, and his love for Robin.
Robin: Seriously the one thing that made her interesting was that she was the love interest of Ted, and maybe her adventures in Canada
Barney: Being Funny and Legendary
Lilly and Marshall: To be a couple which stayed together for ever.
These main characteristics have been altered, and that's what makes the show so dull now...and yes i do agree that it's not possible to keep doing the same things all over again, but this is not what i picture as interesting...
More+
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Barney have made so much fun of canada that to see him eating doughnuts while running plays with ted and no one mentioning it seems a little odd to me.
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Finally gone! Thank the great good gods. Jeanette just pissed me off. I felt like I was wasting away watching scenes with her. Apart from that, I'm a little sad to see the cowboy boots go. Yes, it's symbolic of Ted moving forward and being ready for the one, but at the same time, they've been around so long that they're one of those things you really want the mother to appreciate. Hopefully they'll make a cameo as we get closer to the end.
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This episode really felt like a final season episode to me. But it's great the writers can mix these hilarious silly moments with some very strong character developments. Last 2 episodes were great imo. So i have good faith in the final 6 episodes of this season.

"I will miss Ted's red boots" said no one ever !
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I will miss ted's red cowboy boots! there i said it! I will miss him "pulling them off"
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that episode was crack up. hilarious
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Marshel just standing their while all the skittles fell to the floor was hilarious
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How the hell have you not seen Weekend at Bernie's? That's the seminal "pretend your dead boss is still alive and use his corpse as a puppet" movie!

Anyway, I didn't like this episode, but the Ted and Marshall moments you cited were funny stuff well-presented by their actors. I just hated the script though, it lazily bounced us through Jeanette by repeating the same gag over and over until the end. And I loathed Robin just accepting that Barney is calling out how much he lied to her and is still lying to her, everything he said is true and yet everything he said is also a reason why that relationship would wither quickly if it were real, and yet it fell for the sitcom trap of just "whatever, that's fine, yay".

Also, I just don't buy that any of Barney's crazy schemes would get him laid ever.
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The SCUBA Diver.
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Lorenzo von Matterhorn.
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It made me laugh and really thats all that matters.

Barney and Ted running playbook plays was comedy gold. The skittles hitting the ground was also pretty funny.
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I really enjoyed the show and kind of found Jeanettes tossing everything out moment oddly symbolic. It was like she was tossing out Bachelor Ted and giving us Steady Guy Ted. If you look at the stuff on the ground, the red boots, the burned playbook, the sombrero that Ted didn't want to throw out when he was planning to move in with Sttella. It's not saying that Ted's going to change completely. But it's saying that he's maturing and ready to settle. Like he actually said.
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It was plain awesome. I laughed my ass off.
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Great episode but it will be ruined if next week every item at Teds is magically good and not burned
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I had a feeling they were going to go with the "ceremonial copy" of "The Playbook" For example, I know some religious families that have a gorgeous Bible that they rarely use. Beautiful, old, expensive but rarely used. For their regular use they have a regular cheaper bible.

And... honestly that's the only analogy I can think of. Something a person might revere and not want to trash during normal use. I'm sure there are others... like clothing/jewelry or whatever... but I haven't encountered such special/normal copies of things.
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The "good China" in the display hutch. The good silverware, ALSO in the display hutch. When I was a kid, there were families with whole ROOMS that were for display only (kids not allowed).
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As dumb as the scene was, I lost it when we saw Barney re-enact the zombie-dancing scene in Weekend at Bernie's 2. Just the rising from the ground with a beat, the 'stash, etc... very laugh out loud.

My other favorite moment was the perfectly-still-Marshall as the candies were hitting the floor. No facial reaction, no smirk, just deadpan stillness.
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They still have it. I'm glad there will be ninth season
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the episode was eh, but that "my penis" joke had me dying also.
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Every time Cobie Smulders goes in to her shrieky voice (opening scene today, every single frigging interaction with Patrice), I want her to get that much less scene time. It's not funny, and it's been so overdone it makes me hate her character.
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During that Package joke, where Ted just said everything without thought, I almost chocked on my dinner. Ohh I missed good old himym.
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You know what's the best part about the W@B play, it's just retro enough that people turning 21 might have not heard of it.
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I thought this might be a bad one given the title but it turned out much better than I expected. Bill: Do go find Weekend at Bernie's. It's not what you would call "great film making" (no one's going to confuse it for the Godfather), but it's a good enough comedic romp (if you like stupid but hilarious, namely Richard and Larry hauling Bernie around to keep up the appearance he's still alive) to be worth your time.
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Episodes like this one are why this show will never be removed from my DVR.
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