How I Met Your Mother's newest instalment aired Monday night, and was satisfying, albeit in a different manner than usual. Let me possibly be the first to say that I believe that the episode title has barely anything to do with the actual plotline of the story and should rather have been replaced with an alternative, more apt title. The episode instead dealt with Barney claiming that he and Robin never fought, and attempting to appear as an alpha male while he instructed Marshall on how to get your way while still avoiding a fight. Of course, Marshall's qualm was with something as trifling and insignificant as dishwashing, and he was taking advice from Barney, so we knew that the situation was not going to end well.
Marshall spent the majority of the episode in a fight with Lily due to his refusal to clean his dishes, making matters worse due to the fact that his explanation of his thought process was simply terrible and confusing, ironic since he is a lawyer and remarks that he "argues for a living." Of course, Barney's never fighting with Robin is entirely a result of what is effectively a sham, as the two have found ways to perpetually avoid fights without ever really confronting or resolving an issue. Ted eventually exposes their ruse, and as the odd single-one out, it seems that his role in the program may be simply to act as foil and or mediator to the two active couples for the time being. The episode ends with Barney and Robin eventually having their huge blow-up fight, which makes the argument between Marshall and Lily appear as insignificant as it always was, reuniting the couple and returning Marshall to his ways of pleased acquiesence.
As stated, then, we now have a program in which the central focus is couples and couples' issues. Again, for the time being, this convention and Ted's role will be satisfying, but within another two to three episodes the program will have to shift back to its more blithe, college sensibilities or it will risk becoming a stale and generic sitcom like all of those which deal with such topics. It would be pleasing if the couples could stay together in essence, but still have more group-related and external missions and problems as they did formerly. I am aware that this is what the program had been doing all along, but the formula was unique within itself and the audience did not seem to grow tired of it. It is what made HIMYM what it was, much the same way that Seinfeld never stopped being a show about nothing and nobody tired of it; with Seinfeld, we never had drama, we had no morals, we learned nothing profound, yet we still tuned in in mass volume for 9 years. Here's hoping HIMYM gets this out of their system and reverts to the tried and true formula we all love.
HIMYM returns Monday at 8 p.m. in an episode called "The Rough Patch", referring to Barney and Robin's relationship. Former Growing Pains star Alan Thicke guest stars.