HIMYM's most charming aspect, its gimmick element, is the worst part of any episode. The idea of the stamp tramp is terrible on paper, and even worse in execution. HIMYM always needs a gimmick to carry an episode through. Once the gimmick is set, the beats fall into place. The first act establishes the gimmick, the second act consists of goofy nonsense, and the third act packs in the emotional resolution. Barney needs a new strip club to go to because Quinn's dancing at his favorite one again. Ted lives in fear of being a 'piggy-back' stamper. Marshall tries to help an old law school friend of his, Brad, when he finds him begging for cash and food outside of Marshall's place of business.
Marshall's environmental law career hasn't been a story point in nearly a year. Marshall's career lends to better stories because Jason Segal's able to play many different sides of Marshall effectively. Environmental Law Marshall is a good side of the character. The story of Marshall trying to help an old law school friend who's down on his luck is a natural extension of his character. Marshall's in law to save the world, so of course he'd try to save and friend and get him back in the game. Typically, though, the friend is a terrible person without any etiquette during his job interview. Marshall looks awful for recommending him, yet he continues to push for his friend because he used to be #3 in his class at Columbia. Marshall needed a break to get his career where he wanted it to be; maybe Brad just needs a break to turn his life around.
Brad inevitably screws Marshall over for his kindness. The law business is full of dickheads except for Marshall Erikson. Sunnywell even needs pampering before he forgives Marshall for introducing Brad to him. The biggest case of Marshall's life coincides with Brad's treachery as Brad is working for the enemy. Brad intentionally played homeless to learn the strategy of the environmental firm. Marshall's boss demands he win the case or lose his job, prompting Future Ted to say it was the biggest case in Marshall's career but that he'll get to that, because any interesting story is put off for nonsense.
Barney's search for a strip club parodies LeBron's free agency nonsense. In no way am I surprised Bays and Thomas waited til November to parody an ancient news item. Lebron James is beloved by all of America now. The strip club search was a bad idea, and I don't know how it got past the pitch stage. Robin and Barney needed to share a story; I wonder why it had to be this story. Robin's a news anchor. She's too busy to search for strip clubs for Barney, right? They could've been shopping for samovars or a shiny penny--it didn't matter. Anything would've led to them drunkenly walking the streets of New York together, embracing singledom, only for Barney to kiss her on the mouth, and for Robin to back off in fear, repeating that they can't do this, not again.
Robin and Barney, of course, will do it again. Future Ted said as much. The flash-forwards showed as much. We're stuck watching the snail-like progression of their friendship turning into a renewed romance. They're the characters to follow and invest in the most. Their wedding will lead Ted to a train station where his future wife will wait for a train, in the rain, with a yellow umbrella.
Ted's not going to have a significant story until he's at Farhampton, and even when he gets there, season eight will most likely end. Ted's story tonight sucked and might be what to expect. Since Ted's single, he doesn't have much to do. The show gave up on following his career after the Jennifer Morrison arc. Now he's reduced to watching old tapes in hopes he put his stamp of approval on something; that he's original. None of his great ideas were his own; however, Ted gave Lily his stamp of approval after Marshall briefly freaked out after his third date with Lily. I thought the moment was false and forced, and an example of how lousy the writing's been.
So, Marshall's story could be worthwhile. Robin and Barney's storyline will be something to get through, and Ted/Lily will be used in both stories as seen fit. I imagine heavy emotion for Ted when he finds about Robin and Barney, and Lily in a support role for Ted. Overall, "The Stamp Tramp" is about showing the shape of things to come.
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