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How I Met Your Mother, “Desperation Day” (6.16)

Ted (Josh Radnor) and Marshall (Jason Segel) play videogames in Marshall's childhood bedroom.

Last week, the inevitable occurred as Ted and Zoey (Jennifer Morrison) began their new romance. What next? A review of the episode, written by Tami Sagher and directed by Pamela Fryman, after the jump…

“Who wants to spend Valentine’s Day alone, distracting yourself from the fact that nobody loves you with some sad little activity?” – Nora

That was really, really cute. The writing was sharp, the cast chemistry was the best its been in a while, and the guest cast, particularly Nazanin Boniadi as Nora and Jennifer Morrison as Zoey, fit right in. This episode didn’t blow the roof off, but it was really adorable, and cute.

I laughed plenty here, from the body-pillow shenanigans to the St. Valentine’s Historical Flashback to the regression of Ted and Marshall to little boys. Some of the ‘desperation day’ stuff left a bad taste in my mouth (I prefer these plots when Barney turns out to be wrong), and it was only Robin’s brassy nonchalance in the face of Valentine’s Day singehood that made that alright.

And this episode had one particularly fantastic moment. A few shows have dealth with the moment where a young person realises that adults don’t actually have the answers, most memorably in recent memory Community with Troy in “Mixology Certification” (2.10), and typically its a pretty powerful moment. Even though Marshall Eriksen is over 30, and left boyhood a long time ago, him sitting in that car and realising that being an adult is composed of pretending you have answers when you don’t was a standout in a great comeback season.

Not an episode that will make any Top 10 of the year lists, but the one that probably most-effortlessly captures the feeling and funny of earlier seasons. Even ideas that should have seemed stupid (like the body pillow) produced some good laughs here. I wonder, though, if the true test for Ted’s arc is in his first Zoey-heavy episode of the relationship. We will see.

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