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How I Met Your Mother, “A Change of Heart” (6.18)

Scoobie holds up a bag of sandwiches.

A review of the episode, written by Matt Kuhn and directed by Pamela Fryman, after the jump…

I don’t know how I feel about “A Change of Heart”.

I very much enjoyed it, first off. The Scoobie plot worked much better than I expected, though I’m not entirely sure why, because ultimately it didn’t go anywhere and it was yet another dead-end-for-Robin story. And the dance between Barney and Nora was cute, enjoyable, and ultimately… frustrating.

The plot worked as it was supposed to: I saw the promise between them, even if Nora herself had only a few sprinkles of a unique personality beyond ‘Barney’s ideal woman’, and I was sad when Barney was ultimately unable to take the plunge. But I also felt frustrated: why? Why pull back from something that could be a really interesting story? It makes sense for Barney’s character, to not quite be there yet (having only had one real girlfriend before Nora in our own dear Robin), but it still felt like dancing around something that’s been in play since season three: Barney becoming a real boy. I know the writers are going somewhere, and I enjoyed how they got there, but part of me wishes they’d pull the trigger on it. How I feel about it, ultimately, will only really surface once we’ve seen the finale, but I’m hoping this comes back into play just as Barney’s search for his father has. I suspect I feel exactly as they want me to feel, and that there’s more up their sleeves…

They did one thing perfectly: they gave Barney and Nora the chance to develop some chemistry outside of conflict, which the show still needs to do with Ted beyond a scene here and there. Pay Jennifer Morrison to have her in the bar scene here, have her be a recurring feature in their lives when we aren’t seeing them in crisis, and avoid the Stella Problem!

As an episode, it was cute, it was funny, and I enjoyed it.The Scoobie plot should not have worked, but it was really fun, and had some great moments, particularly Jason Segel nailing the “Ruh Rowr!” of Scoobie’s namesake. I wish it had gone somewhere – the best of these random dating plots reflects somehow on the lives of the characters – but it was a nice little diversion alongside the heart/cheese of the Barney/Nora story. This plot would have made me moan last year, but they’ve earned enough good will that I went along with it, and enjoyed it.

Now, it remains to be seen how things progress from here. The show hasn’t had a truly great finale since “Something Blue” (2.22), so I’m pretty nervous, but I’m excited to see the final stretch of the season. Next week, though, is almost guarenteed to succeed (or, depending on your viewpoint, guarenteed to disappoint).

SPOILER ALERT.

Next week, we meet John Lithgow as… Barney’s father! Until next time!

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