The first 2014 episode of “How I Met Your Mother” did not advance the wedding-weekend story in any way. In fact, in terms of time on the wedding weekend, probably no more than 10 minutes elapsed.
And it was really funny stuff. “Slapsgiving 3: Slappointment in Slapmarra”* was a love-slap to long-time fans of the show, telling the story of the fourth slap in Barney and Marshall’s bet. Callbacks aplenty — including a passel of cameos by exes of Barney’s — and a story that unfolded almost entirely in flashback made this “HIMYM” feel more like vintage “HIMYM” than most episodes in the past season or two have.
(*The title is a takeoff on “Appointment in Samarra,” a classic story about a man who sees Death and then goes to great lengths to avoid him. Death tells another character he was just surprised to see him, since he has an appointment with him in Samarra the next day.)
Marshall gets to play the role Barney usually does, telling a convoluted story about his slapquest, which took him to Shanghai and a magical forest in China — and Cleveland — where he learned the Slap of a Thousand (or possibly Million) Exploding Suns. He learns from analogs of Robin, Lily and Ted the virtues of speed, strength and accuracy in order to deliver the most devastating slap imaginable.
(Incidentally, Jason Segel really seems to relish getting to be the center of the story here, and everyone — even slappee Neil Patrick Harris — seems to be having an especially good time on this episode.)
Part of that, Lily/White Flower tells him in the strength portion of his training, involves absorbing the anger of people who have been wronged by Barney — which means he seeks out slaps from Nora (Nazanin Boniadi), Karina (Stacy Keibler), Playbook victim Shelly (Eva Amurri Martino) and others. You get the sense they’ve been waiting for Barney to show back up so they could smack him, but since he doesn’t, Marshall is the next best thing.
It’s a slight story, to be sure — so much so that the last couple minutes are devoted to Boyz II Men slow-jamming “You Just Got Slapped.” But it’s a fun one, and a very nice way to ease back into “HIMYM’s” final run. We still have one more slap to see, but this one was pretty satisfying.
What did you think of “How I Met Your Mother” this week?