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'How I Met Your Mother' 'Slapsgiving 3: Slappointment in Slapmarra' Recap: 'You Just Got Slapped'

You just got slapped.

To a longtime fan of How I Met Your Mother, those four words bring back a wealth of great memories from the show. As Barney pointed out during "Slapsgiving 3: Slappointment in Slapmarra,’"Marshall won the Slap Bet seven years ago. Seven years ago!

It’s been easy to take shots at HIMYM this season, but how many other shows have had the chance to to tell a story over this much time? Lost, arguably the king of TV mythology, aired for only six seasons, meaning we’ve been living in the age of the Slap Bet for longer than Lost was on television. HIMYM has had some rough moments the past season or two, but you gotta respect the fact that the series has kept the same cast and showrunners for nine seasons.

Before we get into the actual episode breakdown, there seems to be some confusion over which number slap Marshall made good on this episode. In the overall progression of slaps, it would seem that this was Slap No. 7, but after slapping Barney, Marshall yelled, "That's four!" After the episode, HIMYM co-creater Craig Thomas cleared this situation up on Twitter, writing: "RE: the valid "slap count" question: We look at the initial 5 as The Bet and the added 3 as a fun side trip. But 5's the real count."

That said, it appears that we have yet another HIMYM timeline inconsistency. Let's look at when the slaps have occurring. Slap Nos. 1 through 4 came in the Season 2 episodes "Slap Bet" and "Stuff," the Season 3 episode "Slapsgiving" and the Season 5 episode "Slapsgiving 2: Revenge of the Slap." There's four slaps already. Marshall even yelled, "That's four!" at the end of "Slapsgiving 2: Revenge of the Slap."

Marshall only gained bonus slaps by allowing Barney to remove the ducky tie in the Season 7 episode "Disaster Averted" and immediately used two of those slaps. If Thomas wants there to be one slap left from the original bet, that's cool, but we were still in bonus time during "Slapsgiving 3: Slappointment in Slapmarra."

While "Slapsgiving 3: Slappointment in Slapmarra" didn’t live up to the original "Slapsgiving," which is one of HIMYM’s all-time greatest episodes, it was still a highlight of Season 9. With Marshall finally reunited with Lily, Ted, Robin and Barney, it would’ve been hard for the episode to lag behind the episodes where Marshall was stuck on the road with Daphne. As fans could’ve told by the episode’s title, there was no question we were getting a slap. The question, though, was how would Marshall deliver it?

Unlike in "Slapsgiving," there wasn’t a slap countdown. Instead, Marshall was extremely open about the fact that he planned on slapping Barney in his “stupid face.” In fact, according to Marshall, he had put a tremendous amount of effort into making sure the penultimate slap would be one to remember. As he explained over the course of the episode (which awesomely took place in MacLaren’s instead of the Farhampton Inn thanks to a flashback), Marshall had devoted himself to learning the art of the Slap of One Thousand, er, One Million Exploding Suns, traveling to Shanghai (and then Cleveland) to learn from the three masters of slapestry. (Yes, there were a ton of slap puns in this episode. The title should’ve been your warning.)

Stealing a page from Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill playbook, HIMYM framed each of Marshall’s lessons with title cards. The first step in Marshall’s slapucation (that pun was mine — sorry) was "The Cruel Tutelage of Red Bird." While Red Bird, who looked suspiciously like Robin, initially declined to train Marshall, she reversed her stance upon learning that Marshall’s goal was to slap Barney Stinson. Apparently everyone hates Barney. Red Bird was the master of speed and taught Marshall how to deliver lightning-quick slaps. According to Marshall, he stayed in Shanghai to learn from Red Bird for a year, a claim that Barney found dubious.

The second phase of Marshall’s training was "The Punishing Scholarship of White Flower." White Flower was the master of strength and taught Marshall that a slap took it’s power from the anger of the person behind it. In order to properly prepare to deliver the Slap of One Million Exploding Suns to Barney, Marshall had to get slapped by everyone who hated Barney. Returning to New York City, Marshall allowed himself to get slapped by all the gullible chicks who had slept with Barney, including the waitress played by Stacy Keibler in HIMYM’s one-hundredth episode and Nora, the woman Barney dumped when he thought Robin would also dump Kevin so they could be together. Unfortunately for Marshall, Nora kneed him in the balls instead of slapping him, forcing Marshall to beg for a slap too. While Red Bird looked like Robin, White Flower just happened to be a deadringer for Lily, although I initially thought it was The Mother, which supports my Cristin-Milioti-looks-like-Alyson-Hannigan-as-a-brunette theory.

The final phase of Marshall’s road to slaplightenment (sorry, my pun again) was "The Some-Might-Call-It-Nitpicking-But-It’s-Really-Just-Thorough School of The Calligrapher." Anyone wanna take a guess who The Calligrapher looked exactly like? If you said Ted, you win. I don’t have any prize for you, but congrats. Anyways, Marshall’s time with The Calligrapher was short. When The Calligrapher began choking on some food, Marshall sprung into action and slapped his trainer on the back in hopes of dislodging the food. As Marshall hadn’t completed his training yet, only learning speed and strength and not yet accuracy, that innocent slap delivered a deadly blow, sending The Calligrapher’s heart flying out his chest. Yes, according to Marshall, he committed murder while trying to save the life of The Calligrapher. Like Barney thought, this entire story was seeming dubious.

Thanks to his incomplete training, Marshall’s first attempt at slapping Barney inside the Farhampton Inn bar missed. Barney fled the inn, running out into the forest in hopes of finding someone to rescue him from Marshall’s intended slap. As the gang caught up with Barney, Marshall revealed that The Calligrapher had bestowed upon him the final piece of slap training, telling Marshall that the final key to the Slap of One Million Exploding Suns was “to, like, try to be really accurate.” And with that, Marshall unleashed the seventh slap.

During the hours running up to "Slapsgiving 3: Slappointment in Slapmarra" airing, HIMYM show creator Carter Bays mentioned on Twitter that they “used a type of camera on tonight's #HIMYM that we've never used before. You may have seen it in tennis coverage.” When Marshall finally slapped Barney, that’s when we saw this fancy camera come into play. Neil Patrick Harris was a good sport for this episode, allowing himself to actually get slapped so that tennis coverage camera could capture it in absolute slow motion.

The episode wrapped up with Boyz II Men appearing in the forest for a rendition of the "You Just Got Slapped" song that Marshall originally played in the first ‘Slapsgiving.’

Did "Slapsgiving 3: Slappointment in Slapmarra" advance the plot or mythology of HIMYM? Nope. Was The Mother in it? Nope. I’m OK with that though. Marshall was back. The gang got to hang out in MacLaren’s. Carl the bartender was even there. I’ll take a fun episode with all of these favorite elements over an episode where Marshall is stuck in a car with a character we hate.

One more slap left to go. It’s going to happen during Barney and Robin’s wedding, right? Hopefully the ring bear is there to save Barney.

Notes and quotes
To demonstrate his slapping power, Marshall destroyed the jukebox at MacLaren’s with a slap. Marshall’s really finding new ways to tick off Carl, isn’t he? It was bad enough he hid in the women’s bathroom and creeped out customers.

Carl to Marshall after the jukebox is destroyed: “Marshall, that jukebox cost eight grand.”
Marshall: “I have much gold.”
Marshall hands Carl a bag of gold. Carl shakes it.
Carl: “Huh, that is much. You got lucky, Eriksen.”

Marshall to Barney: “Don’t think of it as a slap. Think of it as a high five … for your stupid face.”

Marshall: “My training went for a year.”
Barney: “A year?”
Marshall: "A year."
Barney: “One year? None of us noticed you were stuck in Shanghai for a year?”
Marshall: “I wasn’t being held slaptive. I chose to stay and complete my training.”
Barney: "I’m not even gonna … just whatever …”

White Flower, the master of strength, lived on top of Slap Mountain, not to be confused with Witch Mountain.

Marshall: “White Flower and I made love that night in the forest.”
Barney: “No. Sorry. Flag on the play. You banged White Flower?”
Marshall: “I made love to White Flower. Then I banged her.”

According to Marshall, The Calligrapher lived in Cleveland since that city is the equivalent of getting slapped in the face. Zing, Cleveland.

Marshall to The Calligrapher: “I’m assuming there’s no Mrs. The Calligrapher.”

Barney: “You did not slap the heart out a man’s body.”
Marshall: “If only that wasn’t true.”
Barney: "You’re saying that you committed a murder?”
Marshall: "I was trying to save him.”

The Calligrapher to Marshall: "The trick to accuracy is to, like, try to be really accurate. OK? Don’t just slap. Like really try to aim. Look where you’re slapping. That’s important. And try to slap that spot instead of some other spot.”

Robin to Barney before he gets slapped: “I love you.”
Barney: “Enough to take this slap for me?”
Robin: “No.”
'How I Met Your Mother' 'Slapsgiving 3: Slappointment in Slapmarra' Recap: 'You Just Got Slapped' Reviewed by Bill Kuchman on 1/13/2014 Rating: 5

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