Well, the good feelings about last week's two episode premiere are gone.
The final season's longest wedding weekend ever is still in the early stages. "Last Time in New York" showed the drawbacks of the season's structure. The elderly relatives of the family arrived at the Farhampton Inn. Barney and Robin feared marriage would mean the end of sex in their relationship. The soon-to-be-married couple dashed around the Inn looking for a room while avoiding their elderly relatives, because their relatives are old and slow and prone to chewing one's ear off. HIMYM models the elderly after zombies. It's terrible.
Ted and Lily sit in the Inn's bar for all three acts, talking about Ted's list of things to do before he leaves for Chicago on Monday. Josh Radnor wears sad face for nearly the whole episode. Alyson Hanigan continues drinking water in every scene. The list allows the characters to work through Important Issues that weren't dealt with last and haven't been dealt with this season; namely, Ted's sadness over the impending marriage between Barney and Robin. For Ted, Robin's the one, but she's really the one for Barney. Ted hasn't gotten over Barney being the one. Ted's feelings about the situation is a well-trod arc. He hasn't been cool with the idea of them together for years. The difference now, though, is that Ted needs to accept the idea or risk losing his "best bro" and Robin. Ted doesn't think it a possibility, which is why he's leaving for Chicago. Now, of course, he's going to meet his wife by the end of the weekend, which means it's not about Chicago at all, but rather Ted resolving the issues he needs for his eyes to be wide open for when he sees her and loves her.
Final seasons are about saying goodbye. Ted's list is also an easy way for Carter Bays and Craig Thomas to run a montage of Ted's failures with women over the last eight seasons. Lily suggests he not say goodbye to things he likes doing, which is drinking with his buddies and strolling around Manhattan, but to the things he didn't like that made him sad. A designed scene of poignancy is Lily's lecture about life to Ted. The last item on his list is 'one last life lecture from Lily.' Lily tells Ted it won't be her last lecture to him, but it will be that. If not that, then it will be one of the last, because the show is ending and these characters won't be around anymore.
So, Ted's story is the first instance of nostalgia this season. The second act's of the Ted's list story is decent. The sword fight scene between Marshall and Ted is performed well, it's entertaining and fun. Marshall's passionate bit about The Princess Diary should spark some online discussion. The second sword fight between Lily and Robin wasn't enjoyable. The payoff was worse. The whiskey hijinx is the stuff of a ninth season sitcom low on ideas.
The A story was about Barney and Robin finding another reason to marry. Weekly lessons about why their marriage works will get tiresome. Barney and Robin are discovering new reasons every hour because of the timeframe. The sub-story with the elderly relatives failed from the moment Barney said the shuttle carrying all of the old relatives arrived, as if the elderly are attracted to buses the way they respond instantly to the utterance of Mandy Patankan. I think the idea is decent, but HIMYM's execution of decent ideas usually suck. Groups of people are reduced to stereotypes in HIMYM. The people of Wisconsin are reduced to mute brain-dead cheese heads who need only; Eastern Europeans are soulless brutes; pretty girls will fall for the stupidest ploys by men; and etc.
Barney and Robin are a boring pair, in addition to being a bad pair. The A story focused on the old idea that sex stops once a couple marries. The lesson Barney and Robin learned from Robin's great-grandparents is really simplistic: they'll continue to have sex because they love each other and will continue to love each other for as long they both shall live. Is this all it'll be for the rest of the season?
The episodes ends with Barney telling Ted he Knows about the carousel. Ted drops the whiskey bottle he's just decided to open, which represents Ted's decision to try to move past his feelings and to wish his friends well in their life together. The end left me with the feeling I felt since the elderly bus arrived at the Farhampton Inn: this season will be a slog and a challenge.