TV: “The Poker Game” holds great comedy, bad storylines on HIMYM

By Meryl Gottlieb|| @buzzlightmeryl
How I Met Your Mother airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on CBS
Rating: 3/5

The Poker Game

I am thoroughly impressed with the comedy writing in this final season of How I Met Your Mother. While tonight’s episode lacked solid storylines, the comedy was still hilarious and made the episode worthwhile.

I may have sat pleasantly through this half hour, but that’s not what I’m looking for when I sit down to watch these episodes. It’s the final season. I am loving all of the throwbacks and references to past seasons, but I’m also looking for closure — closure that’s definitely going to take me more than 20 weeks to come to terms with. I can see how part of Barney’s (Neil Patrick Harris) storyline will deal with the future, but I failed to see how important this episode is in the overall story.

The Best Man Poker Game is winding down, and Robin (Cobie Smulders) is tired of James (Wayne Brady) talking down marriage and forces him to put his ring in the pot to stop the jokes. Robin wins the hand, but she has also won the fury of Loretta (Frances Conroy).

Essentially, this storyline forces Barney to choose sides between his fiancé and his family. Loretta ends up sitting in for a game and loses the hand… and her shirt. Barney realizes being married means joining a team and that he should always have Robin’s back. While you may think our favorite ladies man has learned a lesson, he turns and then severs ties with James and Loretta. He seriously says that they aren’t his family anymore and that he’s done with them now that he has Robin.

I’m sorry, what?! I can understand having a storyline about having to choose between your fiancé and your family; that’s something every soon-to-be-married person will have to face. But that is absolutely ridiculous to have him completely break away from his family. I know Barney can be crazy sometimes, but this is just too unbelievable.

tumblr_muosc48zpZ1qbbjduo6_250However, I have to point out the hilarity that is the demonstration of how bad the Stinsons are at bluffing was ingenious. “Bluffalo wings… all-you-can-eat bluffet… bluffberry muffin.”

I mean, that’s just wonderful creativity and hilarious delivery on Harris’ part.

In the end, this riff has now started a war between Robin and Loretta. Now, that is something I’m excited to see.

The other storyline isn’t much better.

Ted (Josh Radnor) is bragging about how much he loves giving wedding gifts, prompting Lily (Alyson Hannigan) and Marshall (Jason Segel) to revisit their anger over the fact that Ted never got them a wedding present. Again, that just seems unbelievable. We all know Ted. He would never forget to give a gift for something as special as a wedding.

Ted, on the other hand, has been bitter as well at the fact that the couple never sent him a thank you note for the wedding present he did in fact send — a coffee maker. “J’accuse!” “You-‘cuse!”

Cue the montage of not-so-subtle drops both Ted and Marshall made in the six years since the wedding. For Halloween, Marshall dresses as a wedding present while Ted is a thank you note.

tumblr_muoptpvqAq1qb9jcko1_500Fun fact: Did anyone else catch Katie Holmes as the Slutty Pumpkin at the Halloween party?! She was there. I’m not sure if she actually came in to film that two-second scene or if they just took a clip from the episode in season seven. However, like I’ve said and will continue to say, I’m loving the throwbacks.

Because I don’t want to spend time on this, Stuart (Matt Boren) — remember him? — claimed he gave the couple the coffee maker, and that notion ended up saving his marriage. While we may have gotten some great new catchphrases like “Lick it before you stick it” and “Wrap it before you tap it,” this storyline was pointless. There was an obvious conclusion and it did nothing for the plot.

Again, these storylines were, well, terrible. However, they still had the HIMYM charm. The cast delivered everything perfectly, making the episode bearable. The comedy was so quick but so rewarding — refer to Marshall’s lavish description of pizza. And not to mention the fact that the show continues to play with time, the only reason the season, which is all set during one weekend, hasn’t felt cramped yet. I am amazed at how the play with time has worked so well for this season.

Personally, I’m still waiting for The Mother (Cristin Milioti) to return. She absolutely stole the show in the premiere and I would love to see something from her again soon. She is a full-time cast member this season after all.

What did you think of tonight’s episode? Do you want some bluffalo wings or a bluebuffy bluffmuff from the bluffet? Let me know @buzzlightmeryl


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