Well, that's the last time I trust CBS press materials! They're all, "It's the final slap" and I'm all, "Are you sure, CBS?" and then of course they were wrong and I look like a doofus. But oh well, because you know who didn't look like a doofus tonight? The cast of How I Met Your Mother. "Slapsgiving 3: Slappointment in Slapmarra" was not only funny, but silly to the max, plus it employed enough patented HIMYM edits and gags that it really felt like an episode that could've taken place a few seasons ago during the golden age of How I Met Your Mother. Knowing that it aired as part of the final season gives me hope for the remainder of the series.
The slaps—which began way back in Season 2's "Slap Bet"—are the best long-running gag of the entire series, and they've never disappointed, which means the bar for this episode was set much higher than it's been, historically, for most of the rest of Season 9. Even fans who've given up on How I Met Your Mother could've tuned in (and if they were smart, they would have) and appreciated this episode. Not only did "Slapsgiving 3" live up to expectations, it actually exceeded them with one of my favorite closing tags the series has ever done. But before I get to that, let's talk about the build-up to this slap, because the series did a great job of growing the suspense in a very HIMYM way.
Taking on the form of an homage to martial arts movies, Marshall sought guidance in learning the art of slapping (he's good on the kicking parts of kung fu already). We've already seen Marshall take great pleasure in terrorizing Barney in the lead up to the slaps, so it wouldn't have been surprising if he really wasn't intimidated by Marshall's tactics as he had claimed. But this is How I Met Your Mother, and that's just not how things work. So Marshall told Barney this elaborate tale about how he traveled to Shanghai and studied the art of slappage so he could slap his stupid face. And he even bought a gag jukebox to really sell it, because that's just how he rolls. Marshall has never done anything half-assed on this series (remember, this is the same man who made up his own board game), and his preparation in learning the Slap of a Million Exploding Suns was no different.
Knowing that Marshall was lying about about Red Bird (Robin), White Flower (Lily), and the Calligrapher (Ted, obviously, who was not in China but Cleveland), of course, didn't stop Marshall from getting in Barney's head. It was so completely ridiculous, but so entirely HIMYM that there's no need to even question it. Having the gang back up his ridiculous story (and half-heartedly most of the time, too) was one thing, but the fake juke box, and finding four women to sit under a willow tree with (half of) a tiger was something else completely. So bravo, Marshall, you really outdid yourself this time.
I'll admit that there was a fear that this episode would be a letdown. The series has failed to successfully pay-off on several of its long-running gags in the past (remember the goat?), and I was admittedly worried the same thing would happen here. I was worried the episode would take place entirely at the wedding, but thankfully I was wrong about that too. And I suppose I should have known better; the slap-focused episodes have always been high points. But having the episode take place in flashbacks, with only the slap itself taking place in present day, was a nice touch.
If I have one complaint about "Slapsgiving 3," however, it's that I don't know how the final slap could top this ridiculous, over-the-top, so completely How I Met Your Mother episode. I mean, Boyz II Men appeared at the end of the episode to sing "You Just Got Slapped," and it was beautiful. Boyz II Men! If you don't like Boyz II Men, or if you didn't think that ending was great, then you just get out right now because that's obviously ridiculous. It was a great ending to a great episode, and my expectations for the final slap are now even higher.
– LOL @ Cleveland being the city equivalent of being slapped in the face. (It's funny because it's true, at least in reference to its sports teams.)
– Robin does not love Barney enough to take the slaps for him, but I'd totally take a slap to the face for Neil Patrick Harris—just want to put that out there in case, you know, he ever needs a stand-in.
– I loved how the Calligrapher's lesson on accuracy was just to try to aim really well.
– How awesome was it to see all those familiar faces when Marshall had to get slapped in the face by all the women who hated Barney in order to gain strength to slap him? What a fun and easy way to bring back a lot of former guest-stars.
AIRED ON 3/31/2014
Season 9 : Episode 24