Sometimes, those types capture something in the cultural zeitgeist. I respond to Barney because he’s accomplished this rare feat with as much grace, aplomb, and white-knuckle risk as any of his ilk have ever demonstrated. I can’t think of another catchphrase-spouting sidekick who has been able to become as truly vulnerable and as heart-attack serious, when the moment calls for it.
Sometimes, they’re just unusually marketable, with catchphrases and references that fit nicely on a T-shirt. Tonight’s episode is fantastic because it combines some of ’s best comedy—sturdily constructed but light on its feet, unabashedly gag-centered but never pandering—with a moment that deepens Barney’s humanity without whitewashing his identity.
(She gives him back his key, which he never gave her, and his grandmother’s ring, of which Ted remarks: “She was buried wearing this.”) Ted needs another date for Barney and Robin’s wedding, and with the assistance of The Playbook and Barney’s Big Trunk O’ Props (like an Obama photo labelled “Dad” and a fake newspaper announcing the end of the world), Barney is determined to send Ted into Mac Laren’s to get one.
What follows is at once utterly simple and side-splittingly hilarious.
Barney directs Ted through an earpiece (he’s Iceman, and Ted’s Neruda) in the commission of such plays as “The Special Delivery” (“and then maybe later, I could give you a different package, my penis”) and “The Kidney” (“before I give my best friend this organ, how about I give you a different organ… “You aren’t saying it right,” Barney critiques, resulting in Ted yelling “penis” over and over to himself in the bar.
But during “The ‘I Have A Pet Loch Ness Monster’” (featuring Ted in a kilt), Robin stops by, sees The Playbook, and storms out, causing Barney to abandon Ted and run after her.
Ted’s amiable Scottish chat with his target is abruptly interrupted by Jeannette, who in turn discovers The Playbook and does a lot more than storm out.
The rain of shattering and burning objects from Ted’s apartment that we saw in flash-forward in “Bad Crazy” occurs, with the flames coming from The Playbook strapped with fireworks from the prop trunk.
And Barney gives the conflagration his blessing, not because he’s turning his back on his identity as a game-player, a confidence man, a trickster, an illusionist—a liar, not to put too fine a point on it—but because he’s finally gotten Robin to understand that he’ll always be that, and indeed, that’s who she fell in love with, and how he showed her the depth, intensity, and sincerity of his love.
It’s “the one true thing that can support all the lies in the world,” he explains, and he demonstrates this by emptying his sleeves and pockets of all the magic tricks he carries around, ending with bouquet after bouquet after bouquet, undeterred by her rejection.
Ted: Always have a fake pair of concert tickets in your pocket in case Lily invites you to something stupid? Ted: Labanese girls sprint to third base and then stay there.