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‘How I Met Your Mother’ Review: “Slapsgiving 3: Slappointment in Slapmarra”

How I Met Your Mother 2014 Review Slapsgiving 3 Slappointment in Slapmarra
CBS

How I Met Your Mother’ season 9 recalls its 14th episode of the final year in 2014 premiere “Slapsgiving 3: Slappointment in Slapmarra,” as Marshall recounts his training to deliver Barney’s penultimate slap, before the punishment finally arrives at the Farhampton Inn.

Previous ‘How I Met Your Mother’ installment “Bass Player Wanted” saw Marshall making a motherly new friend on the road to Farhampton, while Robin, Lily, Ted and Barney dealt with a mysterious stranger (‘Girls‘ star Andrew Rannells) pitting them against one another. So how does the latest episode keep the final season rolling down the aisle?

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about the ‘How I Met Your Mother’ season 9 episode 14 midseason premiere, “Slapsgiving 3: Slappointment in Slapmarra”!

In the middle of Marshall’s slow-motion slap to Barney at the Farhampton inn, Future Ted recalls how weeks earlier Marshall had begun to intimidate Barney about his next, most painful slap of all. Marshall claims that a young boy in a Kung Fu class told him to seek out three masters to learn the “Slap of a Thousand Million Exploding Suns,” a story the others corroborate, no matter how ridiculous it becomes.

Despite Barney’s doubts, Marshall relays how he first sought out Shanghai slap master Red Bird (Cobie Smulders), who manages to slap Marshall with lightning speed, agreeing to teach him her methods upon hearing the slap is for Barney Stinson. Marshall trains under Red Bird for a year before being advised to seek out “White Flower” to master the power of slapping, though Red Bird warns him never to slap anyone before he completes his training.

Marshall finds White Flower (Alyson Hannigan) in a familiar-looking establishment atop Shanghai’s “Slap Mountain,” where White Flower similarly agrees to train him for Barney. White Flower reveals that true slapping power comes from absorbing the anger behind  slaps of those who hate Barney, leading Marshall to visit all Barney’s old girlfriends, and suffer a slap from each. Marshall’s hand glows with anger, before White Flower sends him to Cleveland to train under “The Calligrapher.”

Finding the Calligrapher (Josh Radnor) in another identical restaurant, Marshall requests to be trained in the accuracy of slaps. Before the training can begin however, the Calligrapher begins choking on his food, for which Marshall slaps the man on the back, not knowing his lack of accuracy would send the Calligrapher’s heart flying from his chest. Meanwhile back at the Farhampton Inn, Marshall misses his slap and Barney escapes to the woods to find the sight of four women knitting a tiger quilt by a willow tree, the exact tableau Marshall earlier warned would accompany his ultimate slap.

Marshall and the others catch up to Barney, where Marshall reveals that the Calligrapher lived just long enough to impart quick lessons about accuracy, completing Marshall’s training for the slap. Barney accepts his fate and takes the ultimate slow-motion slap, leaving one slap remaining. Afterward, Marshall introduces Boys II Men, who perform their rendition of “You Just Got Slapped.”

OUR REVIEW:

Well, okay then. For all of ‘How I Met Your Mother”s lingering jokes and threads that require resolution before a March series finale, we’re not altogether certain that an episode entirely devoted to Marshall’s penultimate slap should prove the best use of time for the already-tired ninth season, or even our best 2014 segue into the series’ final run, but here we are.

Of course, even with the lead-in moments of “Bass Player Wanted,” we have to wonder about Marshall’s decision to dole out the second to last slap at Barney’s wedding of all places, especially after we last saw him “pausing” the argument with Lily for a joyous reunion, to seemingly ignore that here. Had he always planned to give the penultimate hit mere hours before Barney would be taking wedding photos? Were the appearances of the four women, Marshall’s run-on (and mildly racist) story, and the weeks-earlier one-note gag collapsing jukebox all set up in service of a moment he couldn’t necessarily have predicted, given his travel trouble?

We all know that ‘How I Met Your Mother’ doesn’t operate in service of plausibility, or even continuity per se, but given the nature of such an experimental episode, we might have hoped for a bit more context to its story. There are a few chuckles along the way, to be certain, among them some truly admirable punnery, but we’re at a loss to imagine what possible purpose “Slapsgiving 3″ serves to the final season as a whole other than a few callbacks and cameos. By the end, it seems as though the writing has given up altogether, introducing a surprise Boys II Men cameo that serves the concept, but none of the characters. We hesitate to invoke the sentiment of writers slapping the audience in the face with such a bizarre installment, but in the end, we’re left feeling just as dazed.

Well, what say you? Did ‘How I Met Your Mother’’s latest installment, “Slapsgiving 3: Slappointment in Slapmarra,” warm your heart to the final season? What did you think about the Marshall’s epic training? Give us your thoughts in the comments, and join us again next week for another all-new recap of ‘How I Met Your Mother’’s latest episode, midseason premiere “Unpause” on CBS!

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