How I Met Your Mother, “The Mermaid Theory” (6.11)

“… Robin, I’m an attorney.” – Marshall Eriksen

Ted (Josh Radnor) and The Captain (Kyle McLachlan) have a creepy hangout session.

The borders of friendship are tested in a new episode of How I Met Your Mother. A review of the episode, written by Robia Rashid and directed by Pamela Fryman, after the jump…

There is nothing not-good about Kyle McLachlan as The Captain.

The plot of having Ted stuck on a boat with The Captain should have been boring and lame, but because the writers managed to keep it funny, and because McLachlan commits to both versions of reality so completely, it’s a very fun time. However, despite some things I liked about them, I had issues with all three of this week’s plots. To steal a gimmick from one of my favourite Mother episodes…

1) The Ted and Zoey Part
This story falls down on two counts, despite being very funny. The first is the idea that Zoey becomes a member of the group immediately after “Blitzgiving” with absolutely no enmity between she and Ted. For the amount of viciousness between them, to have that tension bled out so quickly and in such a lacklustre fashion is disappointing and, in how its handled, pretty unbelievable. Their growing friendship deserved a longer buildup, whether or not the writers want to move on to new phases quickly.

The other is the final cliffhanger. How I Met Your Mother occasionally makes a rule then misuses it within that same episode. It happened back in “Spoiler Alert” (3.08), but the episode was so strong and the line was so fuzzy it could be ignored. However, using the Mermaid Rule at the end of this episode between Ted and Zoey doesn’t make any sense:  “Architect of Destruction” (6.05) hinged on the fact that Ted was cursed with the ‘wanting to sleep with her’ blind spot, while the Mermaid Rule is pretty specific about it beginning with a “plain” girl who begins to look better after her mermaid clock ticks. Ted has always been attracted to Zoey, which makes the cliffhanger here really awkwardly done.

Also, despite Kyle McLachlan getting to have loads of fun here, Jennifer Morrison is completely wasted here playing only bland dramatic beat. She still does some decent stuff with what she’s given – her tentativeness in explaining her lie to the Captain had some good work behind it – but this was another place where the episode didn’t go for broke.

2) The Marshall and Robin Part
When I noticed they were telling a Marshall and Robin story, I was excited. The show’s definitely gone out of its way to draw an invisible line of similarity between them, like their shared knowledge of animal feces in “The Goat” (3.17) or their similar sense of outsider-ness in “Little Minnesota” (4.11). And the two actors work wonderfully when given a beat that emphasises their differences, such as when they argued over the nature of miracles in “Miracles” (4.20). So to have an episode where we’re teased with a Robin/Marshall plot, and to have it fall completely flat, feels almost as disappointing as last season’s mangled Robin/Barney arc. Add that to the fact that the only real laughs in the story were in the pirate fantasies and you have a weak plot that doesn’t do much to endear me to the episode.

3) The Barney and Lily Part
I love it when they do meta humour, looking at the idea that Ted’s an unreliable narrator. But why did the story that finally showcases it have to be so boring? This plot epitomizes why the episode was flat: there were few jokes, and even fewer good jokes, and the script was happy to replay scenes with very little added value. This plot in particular suffered from the ‘twist’ being obvious miles away as well.

Ultimately, the episode had bright spots, but didn’t quite work. The problem wasn’t unfunny jokes, but a complete lack of jokes. Well, and unfunny jokes.

The writer of this episode, Robia Rashid, previously wrote “Not a Father’s Day” (4.07), “Bagpipes” (5.06), and “Say Cheese” (5.18). All perfectly serviceable episodes, much like this one, but also pretty weak. It’s too bad.

However! On another notes, this episode also hinted at things for the future, as many recent episodes have: upcoming, we’ve got a Lily pregnancy, Ted/Zoey sparks, and Ted in a dress. I’m most excited for #2 and, kind of, #3. Let’s hope they measure up!


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