Let’s start with the lighter side of this week’s episode.
I would have gladly volunteered to be Barney’s partner for the Regional Doubles Laser Tag Tournament in an abandoned JC Penny store out in Poughkeepsie, but that’s just me. Loved when he tried to steal the model vagina from the doctor’s office.
Meanwhile, Robin and her glasses were back at World Wide News, but so was Sandy Rivers, Robin’s old co-host and Ted’s nemesis. Sandy Rivers struck me as more of a porn star name, but then again so would Robin Sparkles. So those canceled each other out, I guess. Score one for Sandy, though, for giving Robin the nickname "Sche-poopy."
I also loved the montage of all Robin’s embarrassing moments on television that Sandy uncovered. Well, that Greg uncovered is more accurate. What a tremendous tribute to our favorite newscaster and Canadian Teen Beat idol. Let’s Go To The Mall, Big Fan, Neat & Discreet... I celebrated the entire collection. Let’s just hope at some point we get to see the owl attack footage.The high five Marshall gives Lily while he lamented how they have had unprotected sex 203 times in the past four months without conceiving was amazing. Only to be topped by Barney, who stated that not being able to get a woman pregnant is “The Dream” and how he would give up his first born not to be able to have children.
The bald-headed moustache guy who told Marshall he reports to the doctor’s office every Thursday looked like the love child of Rollie Fingers and Colonel Mustard from Clue and was fantastically creepy.
Marshall’s mom slayed me when she repeatedly told him through the bathroom door about her two-piece bathing suit. And the top is so low cut your father says he has front row seats to the Minnesota Twins... Picture it!
Was the Breathe poster on the back wall of the doctor’s office a pregnant Robin sitting Indian style? It was featured multiple times, but I could not tell one way or another.
Lastly, we have to discuss the closing scene, which we learned was the culmination of the episode long countdown. As I saw the empty work bench in Marshall’s dad’s house and then the cab pull up and the light turn on showing the numbers ‘0001’ I felt my stomach start to tighten.
I knew before Lily said it: Marshall’s dad was dead. After going back and watching the scene again, I noticed the cab light said ‘ON DUTY,’ instead of the usual ‘OFF DUTY.’ Maybe it was nothing, but I felt like it definitely meant something. There was a lot of number play in this episode.
We had the countdown from 50 featured throughout the show (e.g. the 48 on Marshall’s hot sauce, the number 47 on Barney’s Laser Tag application, the stock market being up 35.34 points). I think the countdown was ultimately counting down to the pivotal moment in Marshall’s life.
Lily stepped out of the cab and the light reading ON DUTY meant that it was his turn to step up and be the father. With his dad’s death, he no longer was the son; it was his time to become the father. Marshal asked Lily in disbelief, “My dad’s dead?” and then uttered through tears that he is not ready for “this.”
I don’t think he was ready for the shock of losing his dad, of course, but I also think it pertained to his feelings about becoming a father.
It has been said by some viewers that they felt Marshall and Lily’s flippant attitude toward conceiving did not rest well with them. Perhaps the writers addressed such critics in this moment to close out what was one of the most poignant and moving episodes of the series.
It’s rare that a show can take one’s emotions on such a roller coaster ride in the span of thirty minutes. Some might say the reality of the final scene was out of place and cast a pall over the usually care-free nature of the sitcom, but I would hesitate to do so. I think this week’s episode uncovered yet another amazing layer to what is one of televisions best shows.
As for Marshall, he will be just fine and will most assuredly rise to the occasion when the time comes. I was reminded of a quote from Superman’s father Jor El: “You will travel far, my little Kal-El, but we will never leave you - even in the face of our deaths. You will make my strength your own. You will see my life through your eyes, as your life will be seen through mine. The son becomes the father. And the father, the son.”
My feelings for this show mirror those of Marshall’s father for him. Whether How I Met Your Mother makes me laugh or cry, I love it no matter what.