After what seem like a really long break, How I Met Your Mother came back with another solid episode about Barney finally meeting up with his father, played wonderfully by John Lithgow.
While we were led to believe that this season was going to lead to more development in the Mother Storyline, somewhere along the way, the season transitioned into being about father-son relationships. We first learned about Barney’s father back in the episode called Natural History in which he discovered that his Uncle Jerry was in fact, his biological father. Since then we’ve seen him struggle with wanting to meet him and with the death of Marshall’s father back in January, that struggle became more recurrent. This week we finally saw development when Jerry reached out to Barney after getting his letter. Unfortunately, Barney’s father wasn’t exactly what he wanted or expected him to be.
In all honesty, I never expected Barney’s father to be just like Barney. Barney is the way he is because he grew up without a father; he just had his mother and his brother. We knew he was someone special growing up and that it wasn’t until he lost his virginity and was burned by that chick that he turned into a playboy. So I wasn’t in the least bit surprised when it was revealed that Barney’s story about how awesome his dad was turned out to be a lie. Barney meeting his dad wasn’t going to be that easy. No, in fact Jerry was the polar opposite of Barney; he had a family, a wife and two kids, lived in the suburbs, and above all he was a driving instructor.
So when Barney went to dinner at Jerry house and he met his new stepmother, Cheryl and his new brother, J.J, 30 years of jealousy, hurt, and anger came spilling out of him like wildfire. I have to say that dinner scene was beyond fantastic. I mean, Neil Patrick Harris, John Lithgow, the kid who played JJ, and the wonderful Nancy Travis realllllllly acted the hell out of that scene. Barney trying to compete and one-up his 11-year old brother as Jerry tried to support Barney and Cheryl who kept trying to defuse the situation was utterly perfect. You could really see the pain and hurt seeping out of Barney. And then when it was just Barney and Jerry in Jerry’s driveway, as Barney tried to take the basketball hoop, How I Met Your Mother, made me cry again.
The interaction between these two was flawless that I even started forgetting that John Lithgow was the Trinity Killer. Both of them showed the perfect blend of heartbreaking emotion and laugh out loud comedy (which is something I forgot John Lithgow could do thanks to Dexter.) The scene in which Jerry apologized for not being there for Barney growing up as he taught Barney how to use a screwdriver was so poignant and touching. It showed that yes Barney didn’t have his father while he was growing up but that he had him now and there was still a lot to learn. I am glad that they left their story open and that we will have the option to see Lithgow again (in April I believe!) Now that HIMYM has been renewed for two more seasons I expect will be seeing him more and more which in my opinion, is a GREAT thing!
The B-Story this episode was in typical HIMYM fashion, i.e. the flashbacks. This week theme was gaps in our characters intelligence which started when the gang learned that Barney didn’t know how to use a screwdriver (which he now knows thanks to his dad!) From there we learned that Ted doesn’t know how to say Chameleon, Robin somehow didn’t know the North Pole existed even though she’s from Canada (huh?), and Lily has no aim (apparently she’s the one who misses the toilet.) Marshall then wants to know what his intelligence gaps are and the gang pauses. Apparently they’ve been trying to act nice around him to not upset because he’s still grieving his father’s death. It was one of two great scene for Jason Segal this week; the first was when he played the dead father card to Barney when Barney refused to see his Father again (nicely done Marshall!) In the second scene we see Marshall telling his friends that it’s time to stop treating him differently and to let him have it because he needs the humor again. While some may find this B-story silly, I found it perfect. I mean, the fact that he brought home a possum and Lily said OK was HILARIOUS! I nearly fell off my bed laughing. It was the perfect balance of humor and emotion for Barney’s emotional storyline with his father. It’s episodes like these that really make me love this show more and more.
Folks, we have an Emmy race on our hands. Jason Segal has really stepped up his A-Game this season thanks to his storyline with his father’s death but now Neil Patrick Harris is back in the race (well he never actually left, he just reloaded his ammunition.) I think as long as they both get nominated, I’ll be fine. John Lithgow should be nominated/win for best guest actor because well, he’s awesome at everything he does and was amazing as Barney’s father. Man I am glad this show is back. I can’t wait to see how Barney will change from this point forward. It’s going to be difficult but he has a great support group to help him through it. I am super excited to see where the next five episodes are headed.