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‘How I Met Your Mother’ Review: “Platonish”

How I Met Your Mother Review Platonish
CBS

How I Met Your Mother’ season 9 recalls its ninth episode of the final year, “Platonish,” as Barney recounts how a helpful stranger (Cristin Milioti) convinced him to stop accepting challenges and make his ultimate play for Robin, while Ted pondered his own future with Robin following a job offer from Hammond Druthers (Bryan Cranston).

Last week’s ‘How I Met Your Mother’ installment “The Lighthouse” saw the competition between Robin and Barney’s mother reach a fever pitch, while Ted attempted to take Cassie (‘True Blood”s Anna Camp) to a romantic view, and Marshall found himself burdened with Ted’s stepfather Clint, 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 9, “Platonish!”

Robin continually sobs from the fact that her mother won’t attend the wedding, inspiring Barney to cheer her up as a challenge. Barney insists he never backs down from a challenge, though Lily remembers an occasion at least six months earlier when he had. Back then at MacLaren’s, Lily urges Ted not to get too cozy with Robin, lest they wind up together again, but Ted insists he and Robin remain platonic.

Barney chimes in that no man and woman can be entirely platonic, save for Marshall and Robin at least, who would sooner let a bomb destroy MacLaren’s than even kiss. Ted gets going to a basketball game with Marshall, ignoring an unknown caller on his phone, while Lily points out that Barney only ever accepts challenges that he himself creates, then challenging him to pick up a woman while talking like a dolphin. He succeeds, begging for another challenge, for which Lily suggests he pick up another girl while wearing a trash bag, and without using the letter “E.”

Rooting for the Washington Generals at a Harlem Globetrotters game, Marshall agrees with Barney’s assessment about he and Robin remaining platonic, but insists Ted both should, and could win Robin back inside of 20 minutes if he wanted. Ted tells his own version of how he’d get Robin back, once again stealing the blue French horn and texting Robin to meet him on the roof, though she’d likely shoot him down again, never changing her mind from the previous instance. Marshall points out that Ted had at least given the idea thought, while back at MacLaren’s, Barney succeeds at the trash bag challenge, and next faces a girl whom Robin led to believe would be meeting Ryan Gosling.

Barney once again succeeds at his challenge by pretending to be the famed actor after plastic surgery, for which Lily and Robin give up, sending him to pick up a girl at the drug store while running errands for them. Meanwhile, Ted finally answers his unknown caller to find Hammond Druthers on the other line, looking to recruit Ted to his new firm in Chicago. Ted insists he has no interest, but agrees to at least consider the matter

Inside the drug store, Barney targets his latest girl, none other than the mother herself! The mother quickly shoots him down however, pointing out that Barney seems to be sad, perhaps having lost the girl of his dreams, and attempting to distract himself from the heartache with challenges. Meanwhile, Marshall and Ted return home from the game, as Ted notices Robin to be snacking on olives, a food she’d clearly changed her mind about since their first date. Taking it as a sign, Ted calls back Druthers and declines the job in Chicago.

Barney sits on a bench with the mother, lamenting that he and Robin ended too quickly, and blanking when he ponders setting the mother up with any of his friends. Barney realizes from the mother’s wise council that he’d rather win the game than keep accepting challenges, though the mother suggests that getting Robin back would require all his time and attention. Meanwhile, Ted admits to Marshall that he and Robin might still be “Platonish,” as we see Barney returning home and beginning to write “The Robin” play.

Back in the present, Barney realizes he never learned his mysterious helper’s identity, though she helped him complete his greatest challenge, getting Robin to fall in love with him.

OUR REVIEW:

Is it any wonder that the first episode of the final season that takes place almost entirely in flashback and familiar setting proves to be the most enjoyable to date? We won’t bother looking for any major headaches in continuity (series creator Carter Bays himself tweeted that the events of “Platonish” transpire between “Splitsville” and “The Stamp Tramp“), but suffice to say, an episode without the burden of the final season’s Farhampton setting that still manages to integrate the mother should have been the benchmark for the season.

Of course, the episode itself has little impact on the actual arc of the season, instead filling in a minor gap to say that the mother was the one to inspire Barney’s “final” play, but when the results are both fresh and familiar at the same time, we’re hard-pressed to argue with their significance. Not even a continued focus on Ted’s unrequited affections for Robin could bring down the proceedings either, earning enough good will through Ted’s own flashbacks to Robin history to remind us their romance once held weight.

Honestly, we wouldn’t even rate “Platonish” altogether highly in the pantheon of ‘How I Met Your Mother’ episodes, but the breath of fresh air significantly heightens our expectations for the mother’s involvement going forward. Plus, witty banter and an inherently humorous setting for Marshall and Ted? Check. Neil Patrick Harris acing a bit of slapstick with his latest pickups? Check and check. Everything dovetailing with a nice bit of heart involving a pre-wedding mother, and a guest appearance from (an unfortunately isolated) Bryan Cranston? What’s not to like?

The sadder thought lies in how we’d take a bit of re-heated humor from the first eight seasons over the increasingly strained storytelling of the first eight episodes, but so long as ‘How I Met Your Mother’ can keep anywhere close to the amount of coherence on display tonight, we’ll happily sit through the remaining 13 or so episodes. Well, we’ll try, anyway.

Well, what say you? Did ‘How I Met Your Mother’’s latest “Platonish” warm your heart to the final season format?  What did you think about the mother’s surprise flashback appearance? 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 “Mom and Dad” on CBS, featuring the return of ‘Dexter”s John Lithgow!

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