Backing themselves into a corner isn’t exactly something foreign to the How I Met Your Mother writers. The most famous instance is the night of the goat, but this week’s episode was supposed to be, to use Barney’s catchphrase, legendary. Midway through last season there was a clip of Ted walking into the bar wearing a green dress and happily telling Barney, “Now we’re even!”
The intrigue surrounding it built over the year until finally in the episode aptly titled “Now We’re Even” we got to see what exactly put Ted in the dress. Yet, it isn’t that important to anything going on. It’s just the over-the-top topping on a very sentimental episode.
All of the characters are at a crossroads in life. Ted is living alone for the first time ever and can now happily walk around naked; Marshall and Lily are about to have a baby, which gives Lily some crazy desires; Robin finally is on national television, but is struggling to find any worth in it; and Barney is happily dating a stripper. He even has a bus billboard ad to prove it.
It’s no wonder “Now We’re Even” pulls at the heart. Last week ended with a very warm feeling, and it is carried over just enough to build into something that shows how loveable all of the characters have become. Perhaps it worked so well in this episode because we were caught off-guard by thinking it was going to be an off-the-wall episode where men wore dresses and crazy shenanigans took place.
Instead we find Marshall struggling with the fact that Lily had a sex dream about someone they know and goes off of the deep end when he discovers it was Ranjit. That’s right! Everyone’s favorite taxi/limo/personal driver is back and offers up excellent advice. Marshall’s ability to come to terms with the fact that he’ll never be able to be crazy again if he wants to be the world’s best dad allows his character to progress past where he has been for the past half-dozen years. That’s not to say he still won’t hold a fondess for Nessie or Sasquatch, but instead he’ll make his baby the number one priority. I don’t think any viewer ever doubted he would be a terrific dad, but this solidifies the fact that Marshall and Lily are finally ready to be parents.
Robin’s struggles with her new position on Worldwide News and her desire to be famous again comes to light. Past flash forwards alluded to her being a world-renowned journalist, and seeing her finally attain that goal was a sweet touch that meshed well within the episode. While it gave Robin time in the spotlight, it also was a chance to start bridging the gap in her relationship with Ted. There’s still a long way to go, but a small foundation has been built.
Perhaps the most sincere moment of the episode was Barney’s admittance that he is head over heels for Quinn and is tormented by the fact that she is a stripper. This put him on a conquest to make every night so legendary that it would take his mind off of what Quinn was doing, where she was doing it and who she was doing it near. This leads to the green dress, but more importantly it makes it clear that it’s going to take a hell of a lot to break these two up. And with the season finale looming on the horizon, it’s hard to think that the promised flash forward showing his bride won’t show Quinn, even though we’re all hoping for it to be Robin.
The latter half of the seventh season has zeroed in on the group’s core emotions, and each episode feels like a setup for something much more important than anything the rest of the season has to offer. Now it feels like the creators are prepping us for the eventual end of Future Ted’s story. We’re definitely in the home stretch, and things should become clearer than ever. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t expect some hilarious twists and turns along the way.