Screen: CBS

How I Fooled Your Mother Into Drinking A Fake Hangover Cure

How Mother-y was Barney's Fixer Elixir? The secret ingredient was love (awwww).

It's become a weird kind of parlor game for me this season trying to figure out what episodes are going to be terrible based on the descriptions. It turns out I'm almost always wrong, because this one sounded like a stinker (a whole episode of the gang trying to get Barney out of a drunken blackout? Fun!) but it actually kinda works.

Like the best episodes this final season, it's simpler and stripped-down, and has the entire gang focused on one thing rather than multiple stories competing for time. That's not to say there aren't asides and flashbacks and flash-forwards and all the rest of the narrative tics that the show does, but there are fewer guest stars, and the gist of the episode ties directly into glimpses of Future Ted and Future Mother that make sense when tied in with a big wedding weekend. When we first see Future Ted and Future Mother it's about eight to 10 years down the road, New Year's Eve, and they're celebrating the publication of The Mother's book. Future Ted reveals he once made a bet to never again get shit-faced drunk, a vow he appears to have kept.

That takes us back to Barney, passed out in a Farhampton Inn hallway and the gang unable to wake him up by remembering the secret ingredient of Barney's famous Stinson Fixer Elixir, a hangover cure that has worked in the past for each of them. Accidentally sending Barney down a flight of stairs, torturing him as Robin's dad did to her to wake her up for kindergarten, and a make-out session between Lily and Robin don't work. Barney's out cold, and he's supposed to be in family photos that Robin's dad has paid for. Oh no!

Terrible premise, but somehow the episode delivers by being one step ahead of our expectations. A flash-forward that seems to suggest that Barney and Robin will eventually have a kid turns out to be a clever fake-out after they wake up, hung over, in the wrong hotel room. We learn that Marshall wins a future Supreme Court election race, but only after he loses his hair and is led to believe that he lost the election. And just as we're thinking that Future Ted will wake up with a raging hangover after that New Year's Eve, it turns out The Mother is the one who desperately needs the cure.

Perhaps most engagingly, given how staggeringly unlikeable the characters have felt at times, is that Barney's hangover elixir is actually made up of a bunch of random ingredients (Funyuns! Fictional Tantrum soda!) but has no secret ingredient; Barney's motivational pep-talks to his friends at their lowest moments has actually been what got them through their hangovers. Barney's love for his friends was the hangover cure. Way sentimental and gooey? Sure, but the episode earns it this time with sharper-than-usual writing. Sure, there are a few clunkers like Ted's sudden obsession with bacon (which his mother tricked him into thinking he was allergic to), but overall it hangs together very well, and moves the ball forward while killing a little time.

But how does the concoction go down? How Mother-y were the elements of this week's How I Met Your Mother?

Mother-Y Element Present?
Ted Still Pines For Robin...Or Does He? Nope.
Robin And/Or Barney Shows Signs Of Cold Feet Before The Wedding Robin makes some "that's just what the bride wants to hear" jokes when Barney says that their (made-up) "Weekend at Barney's" prank was way better than the wedding could possibly be, but the nuptials are never actually in doubt.
Guest Star From A Past Season Pops Up (Ex-Boyfriend, Old Boss, Ranjit The Cab Driver) Robin's dad (Ray Wise) appears in a made-up flashback and photos posing with "Weekend at Barney's"-mode Barney. It turns out to be a lie for Barney's benefit.
Baby Marvin Does Something Cute And/Or Disruptive) In a flash-forward, he grows up and goes to college. And it's pretty cute!
Gay Jokes About Barney’s Brother James Stinson (Wayne Brady)? Where's James? I really miss him!
Ted Moves A Tiny Step Closer To Meeting The Mother (Cristin Milioti) Not so much, but she does appear in two very charming flash-forwards that bracket the episode.
Humor Involving Wacky Relatives Doing Wacky Relative Stuff At A Wedding Robin's dad kicks Barney in the crotch while Barney's unconscious. Even though it's off-screen, it probably counts as wacky.
Ted Is An Insufferable, Pretentious Prick About Architecture, Wedding Etiquette English Literature, Or Any Other Pedantic Bullshit Ted's "allergy" to bacon is kind of annoying, but since it was his mother's fault, we're doing to let that one slide.
Public Transportation High Jinks Getting drunk in a limo is about as close as we get.
Flashback to Ted, Lily, And Marshall In College Stick with me here: it's actually a flash-forward, but it involves Lily and Marshall going to their old school (Wesleyan) with their grown son and reverting to their habits of younger days (drinking, basically), so we're gonna allow it.
Pop Song Montage Or Episode Outro "Weekend at Barney's" music as well as a song at the end when The Mother is in bed, but I couldn't make out what it was.
Barney Says Something Inappropriately Dirty About A Hot Woman Because, Come On, Barney He's too drunk for that, but he does react when Lily and Robin start to make out.
"Legend…ary!", "Wait For It…," Or Any Pun On The Word "Bro" Barney pep-talks each of his friends out of bad hangovers with "Legendary" and a fictional relative of his receives the "Bro-bel Prize" for the hangover cure. (There's not a Nobel Prize for this, but there should be.) Also, "Dum-bro's feather" and "Place-bro."
Retro Video, Instructional Tape, Book, Or Other Multimedia Project Starring Or Created By One Of The Main Characters (Robin Sparkles, Barney As A Fake Astronaut, Etc.) The history of Stinson's Hangover Fixer Elixir is introduced in an elaborate lesson involving stock footage of FDR, a top-secret "Too Many Manhattans," project and someone named "Barnert Stinsonheimer."
Slap Bet None to speak of.
Unanticipated Wedding Hookup An all-too-brief make-out between Robin and Lily, after which time Lily loses all interest (and Robin gains interest in doing it again).
8 / 16
50 percent mixologist-approved Mother hangover cure.
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