Spoilers for How I Met Your Mother after the jump:
There have been two HIMYM fan camps since the great Barney-Robin Schism of ’09. One group views getting Barney and Robin together as a big mistake that gutted much of what was fun about the show, and it couldn’t end too soon or too abruptly. The other—it may be a camp consisting only of me—believes that it was a mistake, in a sitcom that’s held itself to a higher standard of character integrity, to give two major characters a major relationship, then reset the story as if nothing had happened. I don’t need Barney and Robin to be together, but I do need some consequences once they’re split up.
“Of Course” showed us some retroactive emotional fallout—sort of. It was a nice move to, in flashback, show us all the scenes of Barney talking about other women in front of Robin that were uncomfortable at the time and acknowledge that, yeah, they were uncomfortable. For Robin, anyway. If HIMYM’s producers decided it was too much for the fans to take Barney off the playing field, I at least give them credit for dealing, albeit months later, with the fact that he and Robin had a real thing.
Or partial credit, anyway. I have to partially reserve judgment, because I don’t know whether “Of Course” closes the books on the issue or whether it comes into play going forward. Taken in itself, the episode did a good job giving voice to Robin’s feelings, but also minimalized them somewhat by making her hurt all about not having been properly romance in her friends-with-benefits interlude with Barn-Man.
More important, maybe, is that the closing minutes of the episode suggested that Barney has been feeling the end of the relationship more than he, or HIMYM, has let on, but given past performance, I’ll wait to see how committed the show is to pursuing this. Whether you think Barney is more fun single or not, the fact is you can’t spend a good part of a season turning him into a real boy and then credibly pretend it never happened. (Actually you could, on a worse show than HIMYM, but this sitcom has the high-class problem of having standards.)
As for this week’s guest star, I’m torn. Jennifer Lopez was perfectly game, feisty and in her element as Anita, the author of Of Course You’re Still Single, Take a Look at Yourself, You Dumb Slut. But—although I’ve liked her as an actress in movies like Out of Sight—she’s now become one of those celebrities I have too hard a time seeing as anyone other than herself, particularly when playing a guest role.
And the rest of the gang? I have to give credit to Josh Radnor, in his “Superdate” number, for making the most of an impossible situation: it’s a curious choice indeed to write a musical bit involving Neil Patrick Harris and give the song to the other guy. The result? I wouldn’t ask Radnor to open the Oscars any time soon, but he didn’t make me want to throw up in my stormtrooper helmet either.