'How I Met Your Mother' Review: "Bedtime Stories"

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How I Met Your Mother’ season 9 recalls its eleventh episode of the final year, “Bedtime Stories,” as Marshall speaks entirely in rhyme to lull Marvin to sleep, recalling several earlier New York exploits with Ted, Robin and Barney.

Last week’s ‘How I Met Your Mother’ installment “Mom and Dad” saw Barney attempting to play matchmaker to his estranged parents (‘Dexter‘s John Lithgow and ‘American Horror Story‘s Frances Conroy), while Ted tried to solve the mystery of a best man saboteur, 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 11, “Bedtime Stories!”

Marshall and Marvin ride the bus to Farhampton, as Marshall explains to a stranger that without one of Marvin's rhyming books, he’ll have to keep the scheme going for the boy to stay asleep. Marshall recounts the story of a beautiful physics professor named Lisa who asked Ted for teaching advice over dinner, only for the gang to later debate whether or not the dinner constitutes a date.

At dinner, Ted finds Lisa flashing him conflicting signs, both of her interest and sexuality, until she professes to have dated one of the Yankees, though she refuses to say which. Ted’s curiosity gets the better of him as he demands to know which player, to which Lisa admits it was Derek Jeter, confirming their dinner as a date in the process. Once Ted sees the picture on her phone however, “Jeter” is revealed to be Barney in another of his deceptions. Just as the tale ends, the bus driver’s shouts wake Marvin once more.

Marshall begins his next tale “Robin Takes the Cake,” as a slovenly post-breakup Robin ran into her ex-boyfriend Simon (James Van Der Beek) at a bakery, cleaned up and engaged. Reeling at the news, Robin buys Simon’s wedding cake out from under him, taking it to Ted’s apartment and biting into it rather than return it. Robin gets halfway through the cake before depression sets in, for which Lily attempts to turn things around by encouraging Robin to finish the entire cake for a record. Soon, the event has turned into a party, at which Robin triumphantly finishes the cake, as well as a keg, before getting her stomach pumped.

The next tale sees Barney as the “Player King of New York City,” wherein Lily’s suggestion to Barney that a MacLaren’s girl is out of his league inspires him to explain how he obtained the title. Sometime earlier, Barney left Lisa’s apartment to find himself on East 22nd street, immediately thereafter picked up by the “High Council of Players” for stepping in on "Tuxedo Charlie"’s territory. The various councilors agree that Barney can undo the damage by giving Charlie and "Bronx Donnie" two west side girls, but Barney tricks them all into drinking poisoned champagne, declaring himself king in their wake. Back at MacLaren’s Barney realizes that Ted got the girl at the bar, partly as payback for Lisa.

Marshall and Marvin’s bus breaks down with a flat tire, after which the passengers gather outside for a nearby fireworks display, something that would become Marvin’s first memory. When Marshall realizes Farhampton is only five miles away, he elects to walk the distance, unaware he’d regret it in the future.

OUR REVIEW:

By this point, we barely need to acknowledge that the non-Farhampton episodes of 'How I Met Your Mother''s ninth and final season have proven vastly superior to those sticking with the wedding weekend format, if only for the sake of variety and a less constrained narrative. "Platonish" managed to have its cake while sneaking a few bites as well even, weaving in the mother to an enjoyable "lost" episode from season 8, so does "Bedtime Stories" live up to the precedent?

Unequivocally, yes. Adorable (and horrifically catchy) as the rhyming format proves, "Bedtime Stories" certainly needn't have shot very far to shake things up this season, questionable though some of its continuity* might have been. The stories themselves don't have very much bearing on the overarching story, or any of the character motivations that we could plausibly appreciate midway through the final season, though the very act of incorporating such an intricate concept within the episode structure deftly elevates any story it could have applied to. It helps that "Bedtime Stories" represents the most time we've spent with Marshall (or at least Jason Segel)'s presence all season, and makes an enduring game out of the concept.

*We're not entirely clear if any of Marshall's stories are to be taken in continuity, given we last saw a still-pathetic Simon in season 8's "P.S. I Love You," while Marshall mentions that the story's Robin had been getting over one of her past exes, before her reunion with Barney.

All in all, "Bedtime Stories" doesn't offer much in the way of dissection from a storytelling standpoint, though we appreciated a number of the in-jokes about the series at large, especially Future Ted's brief aside that his own storytelling might have proven far too adult for his young children over the years. If anything, it felt like relief for the series to simply enjoy itself once again, free from any real strains of continuity, which itself is among the few reasons we hold out any hope for potential spin-off 'How I Met Your Dad.' On its own, 'How I Met Your Mother' most always knows how to craft a fun three-act story. Under the weight of an excessively convoluted nine-year arc, whose format has pigeonholed the cast to one uninteresting location in a two-day period? Not so much.

And seriously, what is the obsession with 22nd street?

Well, what say you? Did ‘How I Met Your Mother’’s latest “Bedtime Stories” warm your heart to the final season?  What did you think about the all-rhyming concept? 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, “The Rehearsal Dinner” on CBS!

http://youtu.be/1Ar8Giukvt4

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