Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Two new sides to Barney: student and boyfriend

Once upon a time, Barney declared, "Ted, I am gonna teach you how to live." In last night's episode, the tables turned and it was Ted's turn to teach Barney a thing or two about dating Robin.

After being single for so long, Barney doesn't know how to be in a relationship - as shown by him trying to sneak out of Robin's room at night, only to have Robin tell him that it isn't a one-night stand and he could get back into bed. Robin voices her fears that Barney might not be capable of being in a relationship, which leads Ted to tell Barney that he needs to try harder.

To that, Barney refuses any advice from Ted, claiming he doesn't want to change who he is (and audiences around the world cheered; Barney, even in a relationship, will be the same!) "This is just me," Barney explains, "but I like my testicles attached to my body rather than rolling around next to some eyeliner in Robin's purse. Stinson out!"

But Barney does try to be a better boyfriend (apparently forgetting that all of this is supposed to be a lie in the first place). He makes Robin breakfast in bed, sends her flowers... and Robin gets suspicious, thinking that Barney is being so nice because he's getting some on the side. This fits perfectly in line with what we've previously seen with her character; she has a jealous side. Remember the episode "Ted Mosby, architect"? In Season 2, Robin nearly went on a rampage when she thought Ted was cheating on her with Anna, a kick-boxing instructor, only to later discover that Barney has been using Ted's name to score.

Fast-forward to the latest episode. Robin's jealousy quickly turns into anger when she discovers - after breaking into Barney's suitcase with a handy sledgehammer - that Ted is teaching Barney about how to be in a relationship with Robin. Lessons include what it looks like when she's angry (flared nostril ridges, wide unblinking eyes), the three topics to bring up in order to distract her (Vancouver Canucks 2004 division title, proper gun cleaning and maintenance, and emperor penguins), and that when she's saying, "You're an idiot," she's really saying "I love you."

In the classroom, Barney isn't that great of a student. At one point, he tells Ted that taking sexual advice from him is like taking fashion advice from, well, Ted Mosby. And between the dozing off, asking if they can have class outside, and tweeting about Ted, Ted gets frustrated with what appears to be Barney's lack of commitment. After Barney claims that he isn't learning anything, Ted gives him a lightening-speed pop quiz in which Barney gets every. single. answer. right.

Thanks to the handy notebook Robin found in Barney's suitcase, she knows exactly when and where they meet. She storms into the classroom, clearly angry (thanks to all the pictures Ted has been using in his lectures), and says that Barney is cheating, that part of being in a relationship is getting to know each other and he can't just skip ahead.

Later, after Robin has stormed out of the classroom, Ted apologizes, makes fun of English degrees, and tells his ex-girlfriend that he's never seen Barney try so hard to keep a girl before. And then, in the best aw moment of the night, Barney and Robin make nice, with Robin telling him, "you're an idiot."

I don't know about you, but I'm loving this Robin/Barney thing. The writers have managed to keep Barney true to who he is, with his quips and jokes, while showing two new sides to the Barney we know and love. He was more than just a "student" in this episode - a role we've never seen him take before, especially when it comes to women and all his Barneyisms - he was also a boyfriend... even if they're still supposedly "lying" about being in a relationship.

Even though the secondary storyline was ridiculous, it deserves a mention, because Marshall is so good at being quirky. Plus, c'mon, HIMYM is all about the ridiculous (remember the cockamouse episode?) In Marshall's story, he tries to give away his barrel, named Mabel, by putting it on their sidewalk's Bermuda triangle where everything disappears within seconds. But Mabel doesn't go away. As Marshall watches his barrel, waiting to see the joy on someone's face when they discover it, he accidentally asks what the girls are doing with "Barney's Secret Robin notebook." After spilling the secret, he tries to change the topic by making light of the recent actresses' real-life pregnancies by saying, "Did you two ladies lose some weight?"

This episode, though, at it's heart was all about Barney and Robin, and it was by far my favorite of the season thus far.

Do you want an episode where Barney and Robin address whether they're still "lying" about the relationship? Do you want more stories about Ted and the future Mother? Do you want more serious storylines for Marshall and Lily - or were you satisfied with last week's stripper Lily episode?

Share your thoughts below!

Photo: nj.com

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