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Urban HIMYMs: “Shelter Island” — Gimme Shelter Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Posted by Yostal in Gen X&Y, How I Met Your Mother, Television, TV, TV shows, Urban HIMYMs, Yostal.
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Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to my season’s worth of recaps for How I Met Your Mother. Welcome, once more, to Urban HIMYMs.

You know the drill by now, so instead I will say, for the love of criminy, if you hate spoliers, run away!  Be gone with ye!  All that can harm you lies inside.

Good, I feel better.

1). The immediate appearance of Sarah Chalke means this will be a Stella episode.  In this case, Stella’s little sister is stealing her dream wedding from her on Shelter Island.  Stella’s slamming drinks down, and Ted stands up for omnivores everywhere in the face of vegan sanctimony…except it turns out her hippie dippy sister was dumped by her fiancee (and is now back to being a ravenous carnivore) and we learn the dangers of unspoken communication between the bethrothed (something, admittedly, that the Yostess and I have not yet tried.  We do have a fantastic set of hand signals though.  Not ASL or anything, just a small short hand, no pun intended.)

2).  For you see, the telepathy thing, whereas Ted wants to pick up dinner to help out Stella’s sister because she’s going to take a bath on this wedding thing, Stella wants to pick up the whole wedding…in three days.  (OK, this isn’t sitcommy at all.  No…No…No…)

3). Ted isn’t sure this is a good plan, but Stella thinks it is, particularly that Tony, Lucy’s dad, was “never ready” for marriage.  I enjoy that Future Ted lays out the ultra important moral of this story at the beginning: “Don’t EVER, EVER, invite an ex to your wedding.”  Ted’s working the phones trying to get Robin to come home from Tokyo, her first week on the job in what only can be described as Japanese newscast hell.  (There’s a giant fan, a monkey, and marshmallows.)  (Just a note: I love Robin’s last name, but I have a hard time believing that she would not have changed it for a stage name.)

4). Lily finds Barney’s lack of commitment to the “war on marriage” to be out of character (but let’s face it, at this point, all we really know is that Barney was supporting Ted’s bachelor party, which was in character, but I digress.)  Barney claims that he knows a hopeless cause when he sees it, and it’s actually in his best interest for his current “hugely important question”, one which Mr. Stinson has been poring over for days in his office (complete with some new GNB swag) in front of a white board, (including some wonderful call backs in the overlay, including, but not limited to the Crazy/Hot scale, the Relationship free way, ez=(gin+tonic)^4, 3x–>hi5, suit(arrow pointing upward), and fish roughly equal to women among several others.)  Namely, how can Barney have sex with Robin again?  And then, it hit him, get her drunk at Ted’s wedding.  It’s honestly kind of beautiful in a weird sexually cryptographic way.  Lily cannot believe or support this plan but worries not because she doesn’t think Barney will be able to pull it off.

5).  Stella and Ted make their way out to Shelter Island, with the rest of the gang (sans Robin) not far behind, in a car/ferry/car sequence.  It turns out the wedding is going to be held at a yoga collective that has no alcohol and no meat, thus bringing down the spirits of Lily and Barney, and Marshall respectively.  It also puts a severe cramp in Barney’s master plan.  There’s a great Spin Doctors reset but

6). Ted comes in telling the gang that there’s a little problem.  Stella’s not exactly happy about Robin coming, I mean, she is Ted’s ex-girlfriend.  There’s a great fantasy sequence (and in a wonderful touch, in Stella’s mind, she up plays Robin’s Canadian accent) and the end of the whole issue is that Stella is just not sure because having exes around bring up all kinds of unresolved feelings.  Ted doesn’t help his cause in the conversation, but Stella is fighting it.  Stella says that she doesn’t want Tony there, but Robin is a close second.  So what is Ted going to do.  Robin is leaving her important job.  Marshall is siding with Stella, slamming the Seattle Mariners in the process, but Ted points out that Robin is his best friend, which earns a rebuke from all three, and he clarifies, best female friend, and Lily attempts to rebuke but points out that she really doesn’t care so why fake it.  It’s a great little sitcom moment that is turned upon its head ever so slightly.  With the decision deadlocked at one apiece, Justice Aldrin gets the tie breaking vote and she guides a middle path like John Marshall deciding Marbury v. Madison.  Barney tells Ted he will handle Robin and though he reaches her before she gets on the plane, Barney says “whoops” she’s already on her way.

7). Ted just decides that he’s just going to need to tell Stella she’s going to have to deal with it.  Lily points out Ted needs delicacy because brides are under a lot of stress.  Lily points out she held it together pretty well, but Marshall has a comedic triple waiting in rebuke.  Lily points out that if Ted can wait for the next crisis and solve it, he’s a hero and will get him the Robin thing, no problem.  Honestly, that makes a ton of sense in the real world.  But this is sitcom land, and that is just setting up a plot point.  Not that I mind, mind you, I’m just saying.  Sure enough, the next crisis is right on the heels, Tony was supposed to drive Lucy up tomorrow, but he instead decides that he’s not going to do so.  (Query for you New Yorkers.  Is Shelter Island “up” from NYC?  To me, it looked like it was out on the end of Long Island, which, to an outsider, I would have described as “driving out”, but this is just me.)  Meanwhile, Stella’s sister is trying to blot out the pain of this not being her wedding by launching a come on to Barney so powerful, Duracell used it in its next ad campaign.  Lily says that Barney will never make it.

8). So Ted drives back to the city to get Lucy, and we meet up with Tony, who is wearing a karate uniform and he’s wistful in his reminisence.  Ted tries to convince Tony that he needs to take Lucy, and Ted’s empassioned speech wins Tony over.  He’s a wee bit emotional, and Ted, in his moment of weakness, invites Tony to come to the wedding.  This was a bad choice.  Epically bad.

8a). Stella’s sister continues on her Barney prowl, more aggressive that before, and Lucy and Tony walk in to the center, which goes poorly because, in sitcom land, it supposed to be a smoothed over moment, but Stella’s right there, and Ted has to deal with the fact that Stella’s “no exes” dictum is slamming headlong into itself with not only Tony, but Robin showing up.  It’s also a perfect act break.

9). Ted attempts to dig out of his hole with a “to be fair”, but it doesn’t work.  Stella asks Ted to talk to Tony, she’ll even volunteer to be the bad guy, and she’ll talk to Robin so that she knows it’s nothing personal.  There’s a wonderful reimagining of the entire series in this next moment, but Ted doesn’t do it.  Ted wants to flip it, he’ll talk to Robin, Stella should talk to Tony.  Robin puts on a brave front, but in the end, when Ted tells her she can’t come to the wedding, a wave of relief washes over her.  It’s weird, as she points out.  Ted disagrees. Robin has her fantasy receiving line moment to counter Stella’s from earlier (and it’s funny to hear Sarah Chalke hiss “suck it bitch, I win” which rolling the wedding ring in front of her face.)  Ted doesn’t get it.  Robin points out that the break up wasn’t that long ago and that if she ever changed her mind about marriage or kids, Ted would be there (like a safety school, Ted rejoinders in a wonderful throwaway line).  Ted wonders why this is coming up now, there’s nothing between them now, Robin disagrees, she doesn’t think it will work.  Robin points out that she quit her job because she wants to go back to her real life, and she thinks Ted should go back to his.  Robin has an absolutely beautifully passionate speech which Cobie totally sells, particularly because what she wants is the best ending for Ted.  Ted disagrees, he loves Stella.

10). Which leads to Robin heading over to a half-dressed Barney’s room, offering duty free scotch and hoping to crash with Barney, except um, he’s inflagrante.  He was so close, so so close, and yet, we learn, it wasn’t even Stella’s sister, it was the front desk clerk.  Robin gets back on the ferry, but we learn that the story does not end as we suspect it would.  Ted thought, at the time, the question, the story was whether Robin should be at the wedding.  The real story is that Tony and Stella are on the ferry with Ted, leaving Ted with a Dear John note card as we see the replay of the foreshadowed clues in this episode.  I do wonder how Stella and Tony are going to get home from Shelter Island, since both rode up with Ted, but this is just me.

So, this is sort of a to be continued, but wow, there was a lot of ground covered.  I thought this episode did a really nice job of bringing the Stella thread towards a logical conclusion, but now this kind of means that Robin needs to pay off somehow.  I don’t know how it’s going to, but it needs to pay off.

So that’s all from me this week.  Please, take it away in the comments as usual, and my general thank yous to The Yostess and The Bad One for their help and insights.  So just chill, ’til the next episode.



1. lisa - Tuesday, October 21, 2008

As always, I am eternally grateful for you suggesting I watch this show! And I love your recaps…and thanks also to Yostess and The Bad One for their parts too. Great recap and great episode

2. CoachD - Tuesday, October 21, 2008

That was an intense and very well done episode. As someone who will be getting married in the next year, the “no exes at the wedding” resounded well with me. The fiancee & I love this show but since she is from and lives in another country, she’s only seen seasons 1 & 2 on DVD. I have to make sure I don’t give away stuff as I tell her about the episodes. She has no idea Ted is/was engaged.

This closes the Stella chapter (for all we know) but it opens up a possibility of Robin reemerging — could we see a Ted/Barney deathmatch? And, what ever happened with the yellow umbrella?

3. Yostal - Tuesday, October 21, 2008

CoachD, I’ve given up on the yellow umbrella, to be honest. It now feels like a Red Herring, or a thread that comes up in hours 2 and 23 of a season of 24.

4. CoachD - Tuesday, October 21, 2008

One can hope, I guess…I chalk it up to the writer’s strike as it seemed pretty important at the beginning of last season but then disappeared.

On a side note: Go Green! Go White!

5. JB* - Tuesday, October 21, 2008

If there is one thing we have seen from Bays/Thomas, it is their obsessiveness for continuity (though they have blown it a few times; case in point, Robin saying in S1 that she was terrible at team sports and only played solo ones (tennis), then later on saying she missed Prom because of a field hockey tourney).

I’m sure somewhere in the recesses of the Giant White Board of Plans, the Yellow Umbrella is drawn and will return to the plotline. Remember, Stella had a throwaway line about being at the St. Patrick’s Day party near the end of S3.

6. DougOLis - Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Stella moving the wedding up was seriously extreme and sitcommie and threw me off the episode a bit. There were fantastic nuances during the episode but I’m not sure how much I liked it on the whole; and not because of the ending, I actually liked that in a twisted way.

That really wasn’t cool of Marshall to lay into Seattle fans. They’ve had a rough year.

Is the ex at a wedding thing that big of a deal? Is it only women who are against it (yes, I include Marshall in that)? Robin is one of his best friends. And the answer was clearly yes in the episode but is it in real life?

Ted interrupting Robin’s glorious speech with “I did make it rain” was classic Ted. Loved that. Wonder if he’s been hanging out with Pacman Jones and Clay Travis.

I was going to say “fuck, poor Barney” towards the end but that quickly shifted into “lucky bastard.” So does this mean he finally rode the Tricycle? I thought he was always against it? Does he get to wear the belt now? Are we going to find out what happened with Winnie Cooper and Busy Phillips?

Poor Ted. And that was ridiculously awkward for Robin. Felt bad for her there. Is it strange that I was not ultimately very upset about the outcome as maybe I should be?

7. JB* - Wednesday, October 22, 2008

GREAT call back Doug – I had forgotten about the Belt.

8. Yostal - Wednesday, October 22, 2008

One of the things that struck me about this episode, particularly because we say “the kids” again was that we cannot always trust Ted’s narration. It’s not that he intends to lie, but it’s that he lacks imperfect knowledge of everything that happens other than what he is present for. Conversations we see without Ted will have to have been relayed to him, so they’re hearsay. So we don’t always know if this is actually what happened or if this is just what Ted was told what happened. See Robin’s bike ride into NYC or the escape from the wine and cheese party, where it was a “they swear this is what happened.” We might have more of those where they don’t seem out of line, but they aren’t exactly what happened.

9. Eric Carter - Monday, October 27, 2008

Thanks, I can’t stop watching this show now.

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