The defining “How I Met Your Mother” episodes aren’t the ones with complex comedic setups or tabloid-friendly stunt casting. They sneak up on you, a lot like “Natural History” did.
“HIMYM” made plays for our hearts and funny bones during its latest outing, breaking up serious developments for Barney (Neil Patrick Harris), Zoey (guest Jennifer Morrison) and Marshall (Jason Segel) with Ted’s (Josh Radnor) amazing voice-throwing (“wieners and gonads!”) and some childish, potentially rekindle-y antics between Barney and Robin (Cobie Smulders).
Oh, and we’re officially sold on the Ted/Zoey chemistry.
Other lessons learned:
- Since their breakup, Barney and Robin have spent an understandably few episodes playing off of each other. The dry spell ended with their night at the museum, and though the writers seemed to go out of their way to make their rule-breaking seem anything but romantic, we can’t help but feel it laid the groundwork for the reunion/wedding we are so deeply sure of — in our bones!
- Barney also learned that his uncle is his father — a disturbing revelation in most crowds but somehow appropriate for Mr. Stinson. After that heartfelt moment with his mother, the answer to this HIMYMystery had to come from some third party in the way left field. Mission: accomplished. We expect we’ll meet him by February sweeps.
- Jennifer Morrison told us that we’d see Zoey soften to Ted in “Natural History,” and she was right. We thinks that teary-eyed confession about being stuck in an unhappy marriage came to easily to be just a trick. Though we can’t imagine what her problem is. Who wouldn’t want to be married to someone who calls himself “The Captain?” And you know how we feel about boats.
- Lily’s (Alyson Hannigan) frustration with Marshall considering a 5-year contract is a bit of a surprise — doesn’t she love how GNB pays off her credit card debt? Regardless, any flashes to college Marshall and Lily are a-OK — as are Scooter references. David Burtka deserves an Emmy for “Outstanding All-Sobbing Cameo in ’90s Hair.”
- So here’s where we start trying to bend the myth of the mother to suit Zoey. Maybe she rents a room in Rachel Bilson’s apartment to get away from her distant husband. We know she has easy access to Columbia classes, perhaps she was in Economics 101 when Ted accidentally taught the wrong class. And we haven’t seen her with any umbrella that isn’t yellow. Right? Zoey and Ted just looked so good together on that dance floor, and with so many episodes in her arc to go, their story has the makings of something epic.
- We do have a solitary beef. Such a perfect episode deserved deserved a much more coherent kicker. Bob Saget’s somber narration over Marshall slaving away at the office seemed like less of a promise for him to reclaim his professional idealism than an awkward warning about him snapping and killing all his friends. Leave GNB now, Marshall, before it’s too late.
Are we barking up the wrong tree? Be gentle if that’s what you think. We’re really loving this tree.