Much like last week's "The Poker Game," tonight's How I Met Your Mother felt a bit like HIMYM of days past, and it was due in large part to the nature of the episode, which was for all intents and purposes a formulaic Ted Has a Bad Date storyline. Add in the series' trademark gimmicks, like Barney's constant need to insert himself into history or popular culture, and an okay B-storyline about Robin and Barney and their "mean old tool" of a minister (Edward Herrmann) and you've got another successful episode in "Knight Vision."
As much as I love the Mother and anxiously await her return like most viewers, and as often as this formula failed in later seasons, sometimes it's still fun to see Ted gloriously make bad decision after bad decision on a date. That is, after all, what the series has essentially been about for the last eight seasons, and his date with Cassie (Anna Camp) was a funny last hurrah heading in to the final stretch. But it was also more than that. On the surface it was Ted being Ted and making bad decisions, but underneath it was one of Future Ted's life lessons. It was Ted telling his children about how every wrong decision he made eventually led to the right one where he met their mother on the platform at the train station. So in a way, being paired up with Cassie and not Robin's former college roommate or her coworker turned out to be the right decision after all.
Despite the storyline being a familiar one, it still felt fresh because of the wedding setting (I never thought I'd ever write those words), and it was still entertaining to watch Ted make those wrong decisions—like asking about Cassie's recent breakup because he's Ted and he's a nice guy and that's what a nice guy would do, or choosing the dining room instead of the bar so that he's forced to spend an entire meal with Cassie and her parents—because the pay off at the end was worth it. And for Ted to make all of those mistakes with the HIMYM version of the Knight Templar from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade telling him that he chose poorly after each one was actually really funny.
Meanwhile, while Ted was off in his own storyline, Robin and Barney were in a moderately better storyline about their own meet cute. It was better than last week's horrible poker game, but it still wasn't great (though it was definitely shorter than Ted's eight-year ramble). This week, Richard Gilmore himself guest-starred as their mean minister who only agreed to marry them after the couple shared their cute story about how they met. But that's all it was: a story. They stole their first meeting from Lily and Marshall because asking Robin in a bar if she's ever met Ted was not sufficient for the minister, whose church was apparently the cutest thing in the world.
I'm going to stop before I have to deconstruct how this storyline was actually very silly because neither Robin or Barney have ever been the type of people who care about the cuteness of a church, and just point out that this storyline led to both of them admitting that they love how they met, and they love how messy their relationship has been over the course of the last eight years because it led to them being together at that exact moment. And although I think the scene would have been better punctuated with an emotional Barney speech that we know Neil Patrick Harris would have delivered with A+ honesty instead of the jokes the writers chose, the storyline was far better than anything they've been given in a long while, so let's call it a success and move on.
It's probably too much to hope that the series will be able to continue to build upon the momentum built by "The Poker Game" and "Knight Vision" for too long, but I'm going to play the Ted card and remain the eternal optimist for once. We've been dealt two pretty solid episodes in a row, and both of them were successful because they were throwbacks to the days when the series was at its best, playing with formulas that the writers know work well. Knowing that we've got a final slap coming up, and that the series still has plenty callbacks to earlier seasons planned, I think it's possible this final season might still come out with a winning average after all.
— Unlike most viewers, I'm completely content with the writers using Cristin Milioti's Mother sparingly. She was definitely awesome in the premiere, but it would be difficult to fit her in to the earliest episodes of the season. Yes, they could have introduced her to Robin a few week's back in the Robin Has No Female Friends storyline, but her appearance that early probably would have meant that it'd have been harder for her to remain unseen by Ted before the train station. And flash-forwards only work in very rare cases like the premiere. Most of the time, the flash-forwards on HIMYM are short unexplained glimpses of something truly ridiculous, like post-honeymoon Barney. Truthfully, there hasn't been a storyline since the train with Lily in which her sudden appearance would work, and I trust that Carter Bays and Craig Thomas will bring her back when the moment is right. She's a special character, and using her too much would inevitable dull her shine. Sorry, but it's true.
— Last week Marshall was integrated into the story because it was flashback heavy, but this week Marshall's storyline once again found him on the road. Daphne as Lily was funny at first, but it eventually grew to be a tired gimmick and I found myself wishing Marshall actually was talking to Lily about the fact he took a job as a judge. And since Daphne angry-texted Lily and told her as such, I'm looking forward to Marshall and Lily interaction next week. Yay progress!
— Wedding at Bernie's and a prayer-five—yeah, sometimes Barney and Robin are still great.
— "What the damn hell?"