How Mother-y was the fourth of five Slap Bet slaps? Not so much, and it still stings.
In the seven years that Slap Bet has been a thing, who among us could have anticipated that the hardest slap would be saved for us, the audience, in the final season of How I Met Your Mother? Overdramatic? Whiny? Ungrateful? Sure, maybe just a little. But this week's slap-heavy episode went to incredible lengths to avoid dealing at all with the wedding that's supposed to tie together this season, and did it in ways that were over-the-top but not delightfully so. In fact, it felt like overkill, adding a whole layer of useless (and made-up) layers to a very simple, very potent running gag.
This episode picks up right where the last one left off, with Marshall about to deliver the fourth slap to Barney's stupid face. Narrator Ted cuts this off by taking us back a few weeks to a discussion at MacLaren's about the impending slap. To intimidate Barney, Marshall lays out a long, winding tale of the training he underwent to learn The Slap of a Thousand Exploding Suns (or 500 or a million, the number changes). That's followed by three vignettes featuring the rest of the cast as Asian-by-way-of-Quentin-Tarantino characters named Red Bird, White Flower, and The Calligrapher. From them, Marshall learns "the three mighty virtues of slappistry," speed, strength, and accuracy.
I mean…look. This would have been fine a few seasons ago, but to throw this in in the latter half of your last season, when it's clear that we need to get to know The Mother a little better and that callbacks to jokes from years ago by the aging gang have been losing their charm? That's bold, my friends. Very, very bold. Marshall breaks a fake prop jukebox as Barney gets terrified by the increasingly tall tale. Marshall misses his initial slap at the wedding, then chases Barney out into the woods where he delivers the blow. Most disappointing? After all that buildup and a slow-motion slap, Barney winces, then gets up, and it's no big deal at all, just another slap with one more left to go. No big deal?! Are you kidding?
Then the episode's tag is Boyz II Men doing "You Just Got Slapped" which is great and all, but ties in not at all with the episode, which made no effort to tie itself to the rest of the season, which just gives the general impression of winging it, not giving a shit, and not really caring what came before or what's to come later. Let's hope I'm just reading the situation wrong and this leads into a final slap worth waiting for at the wedding. Because this one just felt wasted.
Clearly, I wasn't a fan, but maybe the data will prove my opinion wrong. How Mother-y were the elements of this week's How I Met Your Mother?
|Ted Still Pines For Robin…Or Does He?||No pining, no whining.|
|Robin And/Or Barney Shows Signs Of Cold Feet Before The Wedding||Barney asks if Robin loves him enough to take the slap for him, and she says no. Still, it was all in good fun and Barney had to know that before he asked.|
|Guest Star From A Past Season Pops Up (Ex-Boyfriend, Old Boss, Ranjit The Cab Driver)||A bunch of Barney's exes appear to slap Marshall due to their lingering hatred for Barney.|
|Baby Marvin Does Something Cute And/Or Disruptive||The baby is kept far away from the business of slap vengeance.|
|Gay Jokes About Barney’s Brother James Stinson (Wayne Brady)?||No James Stinson this week.|
|Ted Moves A Tiny Step Closer To Meeting The Mother (Cristin Milioti)||It feels like Ted actually took a few steps back. She must be getting impatient by now.|
|Humor Involving Wacky Relatives Doing Wacky Relative Stuff At A Wedding||No.|
|Ted Is An Insufferable, Pretentious Prick About, Architecture, Wedding Etiquette, English Literature, Or Any Other Pedantic Bullshit||Even in a fantasy sequence in which he plays The Calligrapher (!), Ted recommends that Marshall visit the James A. Garfield monument while he's in Cleveland, and drops some presidential trivia.|
|Public Transportation High Jinks||Marshall flew to Shanghai, but it was all made up and we never actually saw it.|
|Flashback To Ted, Lily, And Marshall In College||College Ted, Lily and Marshall would be embarrassed by their older versions.|
|Pop Song Montage Or Episode Outro||Boyz II Men close out the episode with a very special version of "You Just Got Slapped."|
|Barney Says Something Inappropriately Dirty About A Hot Woman Because, Come On, Barney||Barney uses numbing cream on his wang to go all night and makes his hand fall asleep for "away games." This is dirty enough even without any particular woman involved.|
|"Legend…ary!", "Wait For It…," Or Any Pun On The Word "Bro"||About a million new words or phrases with "Slap" in them, including "slappetite for destruction," "Slappacian Mountains," and "slapprentice."|
|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.)||Marshall references a children's book, The Slapping Tree by Pai Mei; the Boyz II Men performance.|
|Slap Bet||Oh, sure. Lots of that.|
|Unanticipated Wedding Hookup||Marshall makes up a story that he made love to and then banged White Flower, but it would have taken place months before the wedding even if it were true.|
|7 / 16
44 percent stinging slap in the face to long-suffering Mother fans.