'How I Met Your Mother' Review: "The Rehearsal Dinner"

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CBS

How I Met Your Mother’ season 9 recalls its twelfth episode of the final year, “The Rehearsal Dinner,” as Barney insists upon a laser tag rehearsal dinner right up until the Farhampton event, while Ted and Lily reveal even more surprising secrets to one another.

Last week’s ‘How I Met Your Mother’ installment “Bedtime Stories” saw Marshall speaking entirely in rhyme to lull Marvin to sleep, recalling several earlier New York exploits with Ted, Robin and Barney, 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 12, “The Rehearsal Dinner!”

Barney resides handcuffed in a laser tag security office, while an irate Robin laments that their rehearsal dinner started ten minutes earlier. Though the guard has no interest, Barney recites how months earlier, Robin had reminded him of the need for compromise in a marriage by suggesting a wedding in Canada, which in his own warped viewpoint, led Barney to believe that Robin might try to surprise him with his desire for a laser tag wedding rehearsal, given the events of his bachelor party.

The gang repeatedly asserts, both past and present, that Robin isn’t planning a surprise laser tag party, though Barney refuses to believe Lily, considering she could never be entrusted with a secret. Up to the day of the rehearsal dinner, Barney continually predicts that Robin will dispatch him to “get some ice” from a laser-tag adjacent store, ignoring Robin’s insistence that someone else will take care of their needs before the real rehearsal dinner.

While Barney cheekly arrives to the Farhampton arena expecting his party, Lily presses Ted about reneging on his rehearsal dinner offering to perform as Liberace, given Ted never actually learned how to play the piano, though Ted realizes that Lily is upset about another broken promise. While Robin searches for Barney at the real rehearsal dinner, Lily reveals that Marshall took the judgeship in New York without asking her, the real reason for her distress, giving both Ted and Robin pause.

Robin gets called away from the rehearsal dinner to retrieve Barney from the laser tag arena, Barney having apparently threatened to dunk a vendor’s head in a vat of nacho cheese when his party failed to materialize. After Robin leaves, Ted consoles Lily by offering to let her in on another secret, first telling her, then handing her a microphone thereafter to announce the secret to the party.

Back in the holding cell, Barney continues to spell out absurd coincidences that suggested his laser tag party to be real, but when Robin insists their marriage needs to develop a sense of honesty and trust, Barney couldn’t agree with her more. Barney undoes his handcuffs, admitting that he’ll occasionally lie to her in service of a larger surprise, breaking away the walls of the holding cell to reveal that the arena is actually an ice skating rink, wherein all the party guests have been relocated for Robin’s own dream Canadian rehearsal dinner.

Amid the many Canadian surprises, including Alan Thicke, James' Robin Sparkles costume, famous Canadian figure impersonators, and Ted’s long-awaited Liberace debut, Robin swears to get him back for the surprise once more.

OUR REVIEW:

It’s been no secret of ‘How I Met Your Mother’s ninth and final season that the CBS comedy has had a difficult go of balancing its Farhampton format with such a rigorously incremental finish. Reactions to last week’s “Bedtime Stories” ran across this line for exactly that reason, with some praising the familiar inventiveness that endeared us to the series in the first place, while others bemoaned that the three rhyming tales contained nothing of actual value to the final season’s story.

That conflict has made reviewing ‘How I Met Your Mother’ episodes increasingly difficult, to the point where it remains to be seen if next episode “Bass Player Wanted” will act as any kind of midseason finale in the way “The Final Page” two-parter had last year, and thereby if “The Rehearsal Dinner” warrants any real evaluation as such. From a surface standpoint, the episode falls into the oft-repeated pattern of providing a lesson for Robin and Barney to learn together in the hours leading up to their wedding, albeit with a minor twist that mostly justifies its increasingly ludicrous gamble.

To that end, “The Rehearsal Dinner” offers much of the same mild amusement other non-pivotal episodes of the season have afforded, crafting a few memorable gags here and there (the background couple’s relationship juxtaposed with the gang’s many Canada zings proving a subtle highlight), with a memorable enough finish to eek by while we wait for more substantive half-hours. A nice bit of relationship building arrives as Barney essentially proves to Robin that he can still show his love without losing his trickster nature rings true, though not with any more to say than it had with the previous year’s proposal.

Alan Thicke, James Brady in half-drag, and a Liberace on ice finale make for a few memorable moments, also proving one of the first episodes to successfully navigate flashbacks with the present, though “The Rehearsal Dinner” doesn’t elevate the final season very much from its continued mediocrity. Here’s hoping for the promise of more ‘Mother’ (and Marshall, while we’re at it) in the weeks to come!

Well, what say you? Did ‘How I Met Your Mother’’s latest installment, "The Rehearsal Dinner,” warm your heart to the final season?  What did you think about Barney's latest big surprise? Give us your thoughts in the comments, and join us again in two weeks for another all-new recap of ‘How I Met Your Mother’’s latest episode, midseason finale “Bass Player Wanted” on CBS!

Filed Under: CBS, How I Met Your Mother
Categories: TV News, TV Reviews
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