‘How I Met Your Mother’ Review: “Gary Blauman”
‘How I Met Your Mother’ season 9 recalls its 21st episode of the final year in “Gary Blauman,” as Ted, Barney, Marshall, Lily and the other guests argue over whether or not to kick out the titular wedding latecomer ('SNL' Star Taran Killam), each remembering their own past experiences with the man.
Last week's ‘How I Met Your Mother’ installment “Daisy” saw Marshall attempting to figure out what Lily might have done with The Captain (Kyle MacLachlan) in her three-hour absence the previous night, while Robin realized by her mother's arrival that Barney might be just like her father. 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 ‘How I Met Your Mother’ season 9 episode 21, antepenultimate installment “Gary Blauman”!
Three days after the wedding, Ted and the mother meet for their first date, skipping past their intended Scottish-Mexican fusion restaurant due to its live music. As the pair search for another restaurant, Ted regales her with the tale of “Gary Blauman.” On the day of the wedding, Robin declared a “code red” to Marshall that she’d have nowhere to seat late arrival Gary, though Marshall assures her he’ll take care of it, before freaking out himself.
Ted and Marshall attempt to find the wayward guest a seat, until Ted realizes the man’s identity, and recalls how years earlier at a party he’d competed for a girl’s attention with Blauman for days over Teddy Roosevelt facts, Blauman emerging the winner. Lily overhears, and reveals that she in fact loves Gary Blauman, after he’d years earlier prevented her from finishing an embarrassing tattoo during her brief breakup with Marshall.
Back in the present, the mother interrupts the story to duck behind a car, telling Ted that her recent ex-fiancee lies just down the street. After her ex has gone, the mother admits herself that she's in too weird a place to be dating, though she agrees to hear the rest of the Gary Blauman story as Ted walks her back to her apartment.
The group take the final decision to Barney, who gradually reveals that he too hates Gary Blauman, the man having taken some of his French fries at MacLaren’s years earlier. Billy Zabka chimes in to say that he met the man in the parking lot outside, and was finally recognized for his poetry above his work in ‘Karate Kid.’ Finally, Barney’s brother James reveals that Gary was the man with whom he’d cheated on his husband, before Marshall finally silences the group to say the he’ll deliberate on a decision. A few minutes later, Marshall declares that Gary will be allowed to stay, given the bride gets what she wants, but Barney explains that he’d already found Gary in the hallway and kicked him out.
Ted and the Mother reach her apartment building before he can finish the story, and Ted says goodnight rather than risk embarrassing himself, but the mother ultimately calls him back to the door. Ted recalls how they’d all rushed out to the parking lot to prevent Gary from leaving, though he took offense and drove off regardless. The group assumes they’ll see him again at some point, though Marshall warns them against presuming as much, given personal experiences losing touch with friends and loved ones after his own wedding.
That said, Future Ted recalls how he’d kept in touch with MacLaren’s bartender Carl, who since made the establishment a family business, while Jeanette (Abby Elliot) was eventually ordered to receive counseling from, and subsequently fell in love with Robin’s ex Kevin (Kal Penn). Ranjit got rich off stocks and bought the limo company, while Patrice got her own radio advice show, and Billy Zabka won numerous awards for his achievement in poetry. Lily’s ex Scooter found love with Lily’s stripper doppelganger Jasmine, while Ted’s ex Zooey (Jennifer Morrison) continued her life of protesting, and "The Blitz" (Jorge Garcia) eventually overcame a gambling addiction. Sandy Rivers (Alexis Denisof)'s behavior eventually relegated him to doing the news in Russia, while James eventually got back together with his husband Tom, and Ted finally remembered the name of his old girlfriend “Blah-Blah,” henceforth, Carol.
As for Gary Blauman, the man quickly turned around and returned to the wedding, not wanting to miss Robin’s big day. Ted wraps up his story and again says goodnight to the Mother, though she surprisingly initiates their first kiss, and invites him to walk with her some more. Ted pauses by the doorway, wanting to remember her in the moment, before joining her on the walk.
We were admittedly hard on last week’s "Daisy," whose reception proved a bit more mixed than we might have expected, given the hammy side-quest to visit The Captain spiraled into an improbable, if incoherent story of Lily’s second pregnancy, capitalizing on a sentiment that hadn’t quite been earned. Worse still, the very act of leaving the wedding in its final hours to obtain said information felt like a last-minute distraction, an inorganic attempt to cram in a few past guest stars, while ignoring the very clear and present drama of the wedding itself.
By this point, we’re so close to the series’ end that any cracks in the dam that “Daisy” weakly attempted to patch have long since broken through, and with only 90 minutes remaining in the series at large, “Gary Blauman” feels a bit more appropriately welcoming of the sentiment. Indeed, tonight’s episode took some of the same shortcuts to look back over the series’ history at large, but a bit more successfully by using Taran Killam’s titular character as a cipher for the gang’s enduring qualities.
Ted insufferably chases women with his trivial pursuits, Lily makes the occasional bad decision, Barney goes to absurd lengths over petty matters, and Marshall’s wisdom acts as the judge. All framed through the device of Ted’s first date with the Mother (a period of time we’d welcome a chance to explore further, despite the constraints of the series), “Gary Blauman” actually proves surprisingly contemplative, amid its heightened repetitions. We’ll even forgive the lingering questions of how Robin really knew the man, as his overall impact lends well to ‘HIMYM’'s brand of sweetness and humor, particularly in these final installments.
And of course, utilizing the final installments of any given series as an excuse to parade past character cameos can prove a bit gratuitous, but considering how much producers managed to keep under wraps of the brief segment, including returns from Kal Penn, Jennifer Morrison and even Jorge Garcia, we’re hard-pressed to nitpick nostalgia when it’s actually earned. If nothing else, viewers get a whirlwind of epilogue in one sitting, even an answer to the omnipresent question of “Blah-Blah”s name (but not Honey’s, or the origin of the pineapple). Hey, gotta save something for the end.
And speaking of lingering mysteries, it’s been well-publicized that showrunners Carter Bays and Craig Thomas have artfully dodged the “mother is dead” question as recently as this weekend, lending all the more poignancy to Ted’s seemingly contextual gaze to remember her. In the TV spoiler age, it’s entirely too difficult for writers to expect the audience will remain in the dark until the proper moment, particularly given ‘HIMYM’s devoted following, but “Gary Blauman” shouldn’t suffer for a bit of needed setup heading into the final 90 minutes.
Well, what say you? Did ‘How I Met Your Mother’’s latest installment, “Gary Blauman,” warm your heart to the final season? Do the parade of cameos, or Ted's lingering look at the Mother suggest anything about their future? Give us your thoughts in the comments, and join us again next Monday for another all-new recap of ‘How I Met Your Mother’’s latest episode, “The End of the Aisle” on CBS!