"Weekend at Barney's" goes wrong really, really early in the episode. The homage to the early 90s comedy classic is a bad start, even though Segal and Radnor have fun as the stoners; however, Barney's dreaming the scene. Barney dreams the scene because Weekend at Barney's was a play in the playbook. Barney misses the playbook. He burned it to show Robin he's a different man, and Robin bought it, because HIMYM doesn't respect its female characters. Robin listens to her fiancé whine about missing the playbook. Robin reminds him what he used it for and states her feelings of happiness for it being burned; that the last thing she wants is to see the playbook again, especially Barney using it again.
Barney uses the playbook again. The copy he burned in the climatic final episode of HIMYM for 2012 was a double. The real playbook was safe in his apartment. I hate this show. Barney takes the playbook out for use after Jeanette breaks up with Ted. Jeanette thought a spam e-mail titled 'Big Penis Orgasm' was written by a woman Ted's sleeping with on the side, so she destroyed Ted's belongings for a second time. Jeanette's erratic, unstable behavior is played for laughs because crazy women are crazy. The most jealous person on the planet wouldn't mistake spam for an honest message written by a human being, right? Jeanette states she only read the title and then went ballistic. While I'm sure adults in a consenting sexual relationship exchange e-mails with to-the-point titles, I'm not rolling with the joke just because HIMYM thinks Crazy Jeanette is a comedic gem. Ted wanted to take her to the wedding, but he cannot anymore. Barney uses the playbook to help him land a date for the Big Day.
The playbook is one of my least favorite running-gags in the series--the accompanying music, the disguises, NPH's narration, the endless plays that end exactly the same, etc., are what makes the playbook one of my least favorite running-gags in the series. Ted follows Barney's orders because he's a fictional character. Radnor's very good in the Barney role of the play; his lack of energy and engagement with the material is a character bit but I'd like to think Radnor's equally disengaged. Robin finds Barney mid-play in his apartment and then leaves crying. Barney follows her to the street, and he wins her back in the most HIMYM way possible. So, Robin's crying and wondering why her fiancé would use something that hurts her. For a second, NPH channels James Van Der Beek in Dawson's Creek, but he doesn't tell her what's wrong with her to justify his bad behavior. No, instead, he tells her he's a natural liar, that she signed up for it, and Robin fucking melts for it after Barney keeps presenting fake flowers he pulls out of his jacket.
Robin and Barney's engagement wasn't a magically romantic moment as many HIMYM think; it was Barney using manipulation, misdirection and deception to get what he wants. Barney's love for Robin, and Robin's role as one of the gang, separates the play from his other plays. Barney meant to sleep with girls and never see them again. Fans melted for their engagement, as I'm sure fans yelled at the TV for Robin to forgive Barney because he loves her. Seven hells. The playbook is later blown up by Jeanette, who's gone crazy over finding the playbook, which sets-up the tableau we saw, when Ted told his kids about the last girl he dated before he met their mother, of Ted sitting with his friends, surrounded by flames and personal items, swearing that he's ready to settle down.
Meanwhile, Lily attended an art gallery opening with Marshall. Marshall spends his time making puns about famous artists while Lily waits to meet the celebrated artist. Lily's afraid she won't meet him. Marshall's afraid he's lost his ability to be out-going. In HIMYM tradition, their fears are allayed neatly. Lily meets her artist; the artist makes the same puns about artist as Marshall; Marshall bonds with him, proving he's still out-going.
I'll just remember the Barney-Robin storyline, for all the reasons HIMYM won't want me to. Any time I think HIMYM will use Robin-Barney to depict an aspect of thirtysomething life deeply and meaningfully, whether it's the decision to marry, have a child, etc., I'm going to remember the cheapness of their romance and that it is meaningless. I know whenever there's a chance of a serious Barney, the writers will just put the big red nose on the character, and because they can't commit to the character's new self anymore than Barney can commit to the truth.
THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK