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'How I Met Your Mother' 'The Broken Code' Recap: Oh No, We're Treading Water Again

How I Met Your Mother, we may have a problem.

While discussing last week’s episode, I brought up my concern that the show’s final season could become “less than a tight storyline and more like a series of vignettes punctuated by heartstring-tugging closing scenes.” The Broken Code leads me to fear that my concern was justified.

Treading water isn’t new for HIMYM. After the show got a ninth-season pickup last year, it shifted gears, going from a series on a mission to tie up its story to a series just looking to fill out a dozen or so episodes it had left before a finale season. When you think about it, the entire concept behind HIMYM is about treading water. “Kids, here’s how I met your mother. We were both at Uncle Barney and Aunt Robin’s wedding. Your mom played bass in the wedding band. We fell in love, got married and now you two are here.” That’s all Ted had to say. Instead, we’ve been dragged along on a nine-year marathon of a story.

Don’t get me wrong. I love HIMYM. It means more to me than pretty much any other TV show. In my younger days, I always held Boy Meets World as the archetype for how my teenage years would be. When HIMYM began during my early college years, the show quickly became what I based the idea of how my adult life would unfold. It probably didn’t help that I even had the two best friends in a long-term relationship who wound up getting married. I don’t have a womanizing, magic-loving friend, but I’ve always seen a lot of myself in Ted. No red cowboy boots, though.

My love of HIMYM is why I hate to see it stumble through its final season. The first three episodes of this season were punctuated by some of the purest HIMYM moments we’ve seen so far. Ted and The Mother together one year after the wedding weekend. Lily’s life lecture to Ted last week. Those are the things that I love about this show. I want to see this group of friends celebrate a wedding and have the greatest time of their lives. I don’t want to see more Ted/Robin/Barney drama play out. I don’t want Marshall to be stuck on a road trip with some character who means absolutely nothing to the fans of the show.

The Broken Code, while set up to unearth Ted/Robin revelations that could ruin Barney and Ted’s friendship, didn’t do anything to change the group’s status quo. If all Ted could say to Barney was that he would try as hard as he could to not have feelings for Robin, we didn’t go anywhere. Ted has been making that promise for years.

Why didn’t Ted tell Barney that he was moving to Chicago while they were sitting on the beach? Ted may have wanted to avoid ruining the wedding weekend, but that was his moment. If Ted feels that Robin has tainted his chances of ever finding love in New York City that he has to run away, why couldn’t he tell Barney that? It may have not assured Barney that Ted wouldn’t make a move on Robin, but it surely would’ve shown that Ted was serious about moving on from Robin.

It also seems that HIMYM has forgotten a key moment in its history. In the Season 3 episode The Goat, Ted discovered that Barney had slept with Robin, breaking one of the key pillars of the Bro Code — hooking up with a bro’s ex. Ted reacts poorly to Barney’s confession, punching his friend in the groin and declaring that they were no longer friends. Ted and Barney did resolve their issues at the end of Season 3 after Ted and Barney were in separate car accidents.

Here’s the thing — Barney broke one of the Bro Code’s most sacred rules, sleeping with Robin, the greatest girl-who-got-away in Ted’s life. Ted not only eventually forgave Barney but wound up having to watch Robin and Barney date twice, get engaged and plan a wedding. I’m not saying that Ted was in the right at the carousel with Robin, but if he got caught up in the moment and held Robin’s hand, I’m not sure if Barney really has the moral standing to hold a grudge against Ted.

After sleeping with Robin, Barney scoured the Bro Code for an escape clause, hoping to find something that Ted did to break the rules first. Now Barney is looking to the Bro Code for a reason to go after Ted? C’mon, HIMYM, you should know your history better than this.

As I mentioned earlier, this season of HIMYM has felt like a series of vignettes, standalone jokes that really don’t play into the overall plot. The Broken Code featured the return of one of my favorite HIMYM gags: Marshpillow. We first met Lily’s pillow lover in Season 6, with Marshpillow standing in for her husband while Marshall was in Minnesota after his dad’s death. While I was a huge fan of Marshpillow back then — something to do with the creepiness of a human-sized pillow, I think — The Broken Code saw Lily upgrade Marshpillow to include an iPad to allow Marshall to video chat with her and the group, turning that great joke into a joke about Internet connections freezing. Sigh …

Look, I’m sure it seems like I’m being a bit harsh on HIMYM. I think I was even accused of that last season too. We know what this show is capable of. We know that it can deliver great moments. I want it to be that show during its final run. In roughly half a year, HIMYM will finish its season and be gone forever. There’s still so much story to tell. How do Ted and The Mother meet? How does The Mother meet the rest of the gang? Does Barney fully reconcile with his dad at the wedding? When will the final slaps come? How did that pineapple get in Ted’s bedroom? I don’t want to know the story about how Marshall drove from Minnesota to New York with a stranger.

Notes and quotes
Barney questioning Ted about the carousel: “What up?”
Ted: “Nothing up. Everything down, all parts of me down.”

Linus has spent the entire weekend so far feeding Lily a constant stream of alcohol. Shouldn’t she be plastered by now? Drunk Lily becomes sleepy Lily — will she nap through the wedding?

Lily after Marshpillow 2.0 freezes: “Same thing happened last night at the worst possible time. I had just gotten on all fours and taken of my pantie —”
Robin: “Now Lily’s frozen.”

The last time we heard about Ted’s calligraphy skills, it was when Robin’s ex-boyfriend Don was describing the reasons he thought Ted was gay and a non-threat to his relationship with Robin.

Lily running through the list of girls Robin asked her to invite to the bachelorette party: “Tall girl from work. Mouth-breather from coffee shop. Averaged-sized girl from that place. Ohhh, sorry I didn’t track her down. She sounds great.”
Robin: “She’s actually kind of a bitch.”
Lily: “Face it, Robin, you hate women and women hate you.”

So women don’t like Robin? What about that group of women she was with in HIMYM’s very first episode when Ted met her at MacLaren’s? Or the women she was with on Valentine’s Day? Or Nora? I don’t buy this premise, HIMYM.

Ted after releasing the doves in his room: “They carpet-bombed my entire room. I wish I had closed my suitcase … and my mouth.”

Barney’s poker game party include him, Ted, Marshpillow 2.0, Billy Zabka, Tim Gunn and Ranjit.

Barney to Ted: “Holding hands is the fourth grade equivalent of banging. Well, in your case, 12th grade.”

HIMYM kind of took a meta turn by including actual copies of the Bro Code in this episode. According to Barney, select hotels have replaced the Gideon Bible with the Bro Code and select airlines have replaced the safety manual with it too.

Ted on the Bro Code: “The mom of a bro is always off limits.”
Barney: “OK, look we’ve all had a lot fun joking about me banging your mom.”
Ted: “Not me. Continue …”

Lily’s hopes to hook up with Robin continued this episode, with her fantasizing about Robin and her new hockey-loving friend going the distance. Fantasy Robin: “This might sound a little nutty, but how about we inject a sexual edge into our abiding friendship that in no way jeopardizes our emotional connection or respective marriages?”

Previous HIMYM recaps
Sept. 30, 2013: Last Time in New York
Sept. 23, 2013: Coming Back
Sept. 23, 2013: The Locket
'How I Met Your Mother' 'The Broken Code' Recap: Oh No, We're Treading Water Again Reviewed by Bill Kuchman on 10/07/2013 Rating: 5

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