Spoilers for How I Met Your Mother coming up after the jump:
Tuned In likey! After a break from the air, and some eh-to-fair episodes before them, HIMYM came back with a bizarre but brilliant episode structured around the fantasyland that is the mind of Barney Stinson. HIMYM is always freest to get wackiest when dealing with Barney, but what distinguished “The Stinsons” is that behind the very funny concept of Barney play-acting married life for his mother over seven years was a nugget of emotional truth: Barney’s need from childhood to construct fantasies of perfection to compensate for his home life.
On that emotional grounding, though, the episode built one hilarious scene after another. If it’s characteristc of Barney that he would want to invent a family to please Mom, it’s also characteristic that he would want that family to be awesome—hence his elaborate stage-directing (contrasted with Ted’s awful improvisation), his hectoring of bad-actor fake son Grant, and his aside of impressed surprise when “Tyler” pulls off the “I don’t want my Mommy and Daddy to get divorced scene.” (All of which set up some nice callbacks to NPH’s Doogie era: “Child actors were way better in the ’80s.”)
As for Frances Conroy, I’m never disappointed with her, though I’m always a little put off seeing Six Feet Under actors in roles remotely similar to their roles on SFU (see also Rachel Griffiths on Brothers and Sisters). And I don’t recall the younger, flashback Mom in the Bob Barker episode recalling a young Frances Conroy.
Still, it was worth it getting an actress of Conroy’s quality to pull off what could have been a cloying line—the nice touch at the end where she told barney to seize the chance if he found a woman he liked, just as Robin walked in. Too often this season, HIMYM has dealt with Barney’s infatuation with Robin by having him either obsess with her or seem to forget her entirely; this episode let us explore wacky Barneyworld, but in a way that brought things back to his emotional arc.
I’d go to the hail of bullets, but I’m sure you can supply your favorite lines yourself. Did this episode work as well for you? And do I need a catchphrase?