Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Barney bambozzles with the help of the Playbook

The Playbook
How I Met Your Mother: Season 5, Episode 8

Last night's episode showed exactly why the Robin and Barney thing ended so abruptly: writers Bays and Thomas wanted Barney to bring out his 'playbook.' (Christmas present, anyone?) The entire episode essentially became a list of all the schemes and bamboozles Barney has in his repertoire, including the simple flim-flams: "Don't drink that," claiming that a guy slipped something into her drink, to the complex, such as "The Lorenzo von Matterhorn," which involves creating lots of fake Website pages talking about how famous and rich you, as Lorenzo von Matterhorn, are.

I'm not saying the list of scams wasn't funny, because it was. And I was curious as to how Barney intended to get the girl by wearing a scuba outfit to McLaren's. But the writers have shown that Barney can be a sweet guy, both in his relationship with Robin and well before, as he struggled to express his feelings for Robin ever since his realization way back in Season 3. Barney was anything but caring in last night's episode - funny and womanizing, as he's always been, but not nice.

While Barney is handling the breakup by returning to his player ways, Robin decides to focus on her career. This statement prompts Ted and Marshall to tell her that's exactly one of those 'Things People Say Right Before They Meet the Love of Their Lives.' Robin responds by brushing off their stories of love and marriage six months later.

So why hasn't this 'focus on the career' ploy worked for Ted and meeting the love of his life? He explains that he doesn't want to be single, ergo if he said it, it wouldn't be true. And then the plot moves back to what it always does: Barney and Robin, but especially Barney.

The entire episode is framed by Lily telling a blond-haired girl at the bar why she should not talk to the guy in the scuba suit who is trying, unsuccessfully, to drink with his mask on. But then the truth comes out: there is no "Scuba Diver" in the playbook that Lily stole (after getting Barney to hit on an actress during his "The 'He's Not Coming'" stunt on top of the Empire State Building), and the gang needs to know what "The Scuba Diver" con is.

Along with the blond, they all crowd in at the corner table to confront Barney. Taking off his mask, he admits that he's just trying to get over his break-up with Robin and that he's sorry for hurting Robin's feelings. Lily feels bad for how angry she got, and she tells the blond that she should go out with Barney after all, because, deep-down, Barney is a really great guy. Of course, the pair heads off and it seems like it's over... but wait.

Barney texts Lily, asking her to look under the table. Surprise, surprise, there's the missing page of the playbook, with a full description of the scuba diver con, and it played out exactly like the episode showed it would. Lily meddled, Barney pretended to confess to feeling sad about the break-up, and Lily got the girl to go out with him. That sounds like the old Barney all right - but I still don't completely buy it.

I know, I know. I'm biased because I've always been a supporter of a Barney & Robin pairing, but this episode, like the last, seemed a bit too forced. Barney loves to create elaborate schemes, yes, but him claiming that he's fine after the breakup? Don't buy it. Him claiming that he lied about feeling bad about hurting Robin's feelings? Don't buy it.

He may be a womanizer and a schemer, but he has a sweet side, too. "The Playbook" episode, like last week's "The Rough Patch," seemed to be a cop-out, with the writers forgetting all the character development they've done with Barney over the past season or so. He's more than just a bamboozler.

That said, Robin did end up meeting her new co-host, Don, which will lead to another relationship for Robin according to future Ted. Will Robin's new relationship make Barney jealous? Or will he just ignore it, like he ignored Robin's feelings completely in last night's episode? Will Lily's teacher friend return? Or is Ted doomed to be out-played by Barney every time someone tries to match him up? Share your thoughts below!
Photo: cbs.com

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