By Meryl Gottlieb| firstname.lastname@example.org| @buzzlightmeryl
How I Met Your Mother airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on CBS
Rating: 4.5/ 5
Slapsgiving came quite early this year.
One of my favorite running gags on How I Met Your Mother is the slap bet between Marshall (Jason Segel) and Barney (Neil Patrick Harris). Back in season two, Marshall won the slap bet he had with Barney about Robin’s (Cobie Smulders) secret, which turned out to be Robin Sparkles, another one of the show’s greatest ideas. At that time, he won the right to slap Barney five times from now until eternity. He uses four but earns three more slaps in the season seven episode “Disaster Averted” after making a deal to end the ducky tie bet. Marshall uses two immediately, leaving him with two more slaps total.
And on this day, the seventh slap was given. It was holy, and it was awesome.
“Bass Player Wanted” ended on a Wimbledon style slow motion shot of Marshall winding up for the slap and that’s exactly where we picked up tonight on “Slapsgiving 3: Slappointment in Slapmarra.”
A few weeks earlier, Marshall taunts Barney about his remaining slaps, only to find out that Barney says he is now immune to the torture, or so he thinks. Marshall has actually received special training for the final slaps. An adorable child in a kung fu studio told him of the three great masters who will teach him the way to achieve the “slap of a
thousand million exploding suns.” The key components are speed, strength and accuracy.
In a Kill Bill fashion, a title screen introduces each chapter in Marshall’s journey. First up, he travels to Shanghai for “The Cruel Tutelage of Red Bird.” Red Bird, hmm sounds like a synonymous phrase for “Robin,” and, in fact, it is a Robin doppleganger. Smulders is such a comedic genius. Her simple presence in that get-up was hilarious; she shined tonight even though she had a fairly small role. Marshall’s year-long training under Red Bird helped him overcome the slapping tree, which is much better than any old stupid giving tree, and to even slap Red Bird herself.
Next is “The Punishing Scholarship of White Flower,” where he visits
Lily White Flower (Alyson Hannigan) who lives in Slap Mountain. You guessed it. It’s a mountain in the shape of a hand. From White Flower, Marshall learns the best slaps are the ones with the most anger behind them; thus, he must set out to find those who hate Barney so they can slap him and prepare his hand to glow with their hatred. Cue the montage of girls Barney has slept with slapping Marshall in the face.
This episode was actually ridiculous, and I mean that in a great way. Marshall’s whole story is so outrageous that it’s hilarious. It’s a story that I could only see Marshall telling. Quite possibly my favorite part of tonight’s storytelling was Barney’s constant interruptions. He continuously called Marshall out on the lies he was telling, but the rest of the gang simply played along. I love these characters.
Marshall’s training is almost complete. Now he must travel to Cleveland (“The city equivalent for being slapped in the face” — oh, burn!) and go through the “Some Might Call It Nitpicky But It’s Really Just Thorough Schooling from The Calligrapher” chapter. Though Red Bird and White Flower only essentially shared the same face as their New York counterparts, the Calligrapher was exactly Ted (Josh Radnor). From whining about being lonely to pondering why his skin care treatments are not working, the Calligrapher was just an Asian Ted.
Unfortunately, before Marshall could start his training with the Calligrapher, the great master began choking to his death. In an attempt to try and save him, Marshall slapped his back but he was not ready to slap just yet for he had not learned about accuracy and ended up slapping the heart right out of the Calligrapher. This is what I meant by so ridiculous it’s funny.
Never learning accuracy is an issue. Flash back to the current slap-in-slow-motion-progress and Marshall misses Barney. That is not how I expected that slow motion clip to end. With a new chance at life, Barney runs away only to find that he cannot escape destiny and Marshall ends up slapping him for the seventh time.
How did he do this without completing his training, you ask? Well, everyone knows that when you have the heart slapped out of you, you have about 10 to 15 minutes before you die. In that time, the Calligrapher managed to give Marshall a lesson about accuracy (“The trick to accuracy is to be like really accurate. Don’t just slap, like really try to aim.”) and tell him about some Cleveland tourist spots before pretending to die just to speed up an awkward goodbye.
I have to say I was a bit disappointed to see Barney just get up and everyone cornily talk about the slap. I expected pain; I expected a bigger result. But, the night didn’t end there. Boyz II Men showed up to sing “You Just Got Slapped,” Marshall’s original song introduced in the first “Slapsgiving” episode. That was unexpected and fantastic. I was crying from laughter and loved the montage of the previous slaps.
Here’s hoping the eighth and final slap will happen when Barney’s at the altar. We have “one more…” according to slapbetcountdown.com and there’s only 10 more episodes left of the series. Thankfully, we won’t have to wait long. Unthankfully, it’s another reminder that our beloved show is ending soon. The end of March shall be a hard time in my life.
I want to add that tonight’s episode was a great example of why I love HIMYM the way I do. It is a show about the lives of a group of friends, and they’re shown accurately. We see all of their inside jokes, touching moments, chemistry and love for one another. The show makes us believe that these characters are actually best friends and always will be. I believe in these friendships, which is why I believe in many of the things they do. You may not have enjoyed tonight’s episode because it was all about a one gag in the show. However, if you’ve watched all of the episodes and have watched these characters grow for eight years, you start to appreciate every thing these people do because they have what everyone aspires to have: friends for life. And friends for life slap one another.
What did you think about the slowmo slap? When do you think the final slap will happen? Let me know @buzzlightmeryl