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How I Met Your Mother "Lobster Crawl" Review: You Always Want What You Can't Have ...

How I Met Your Mother S08E09: "Lobster Crawl"

Is How I Met Your Mother back? After spending weeks adrift while either introducing new characters we never connected with or ruining old favorites that we'd already connected with, HIMYM seems to have found its rhythm again. "Lobster Crawl," this week’s episode, not only pushed the series’ story ahead, but it also managed to right a few of the wrongs committed earlier in the season.

After Barney told Robin he was done pursuing her in last week’s episode, Robin found herself now wanting the very thing she couldn’t have. Lobster. Er, well, that too, but in this case: Barney. As Lily explained, Robin was suffering from the classic lobster situation. Like the time Robin’s doctor told her she was allergic to lobster and couldn’t eat it anymore, Barney had made it clear to Robin that they were never going to happen, making Robin want just one more taste of the Barnacle.

Barney was oblivious to Robin’s advances, missing her school-girl flirting while his attention was focused on the more pressing matter of a dying tie. (Rest in peace, Cornelius.) Robin realized that if she were to ever get Barney out of her system, she needed to sleep with him one final time. Launching an all-out offensive to capture Barney’s attention, Robin turned to a multitude of schemes. She asked Barney to come to her office since she needed help installing a heavy printer. She tried to make Barney jealous with other guys. She showed up at laser tag dressed like Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider. She even spent an evening flirting with her coworker, Brandi, at the bar. Nothing worked.

Brandi and the infuriating Patrice showed up to help Robin carry her printer. Barney was more interested in promoting Bro Bibs, his newest creation, to the guys drooling over Robin (who, in fairness, comprised a key market segment). Robin became collateral damage in a laser tag match that counted toward Barney’s league score. And Barney was more interested in bringing Brandi back to the newsroom than hooking up with Robin.

Or was he?

It turned out that Barney didn’t wind up having sex in 17 states on the weather map with Brandi, realizing that even though he didn’t want to do that, he wasn’t sure what he wanted. The next day at the bar, Barney shared with Robin that he’d had the revelation since breaking up with Quinn, he'd been lost. Everything he's been doing over the past few months — bringing Brover to bars, hooking up with nannies — it was all a cry for help.

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about how the HIMYM writers appeared to have no idea what they were doing with Barney as a character. He was erratic, his desires swinging from one episode to the next. Well, it looks like those guys had a plan after all. Barney wasn’t supposed to be moving in a straight line. He was supposed to be all over the place. That’s what happens when you’re lost.

Robin decided to make one more big play for Barney, showing up at his apartment and dropping her coat to reveal lingerie. “It’s okay if you don’t know what you want in life,” she told Barney. “As long as you know what you want ... tonight.” Barney swung open the door to reveal that Robin’s coworker, Patrice, was there, and that they were playing Crazy 8s. After turning down Brandi the night before, Barney ran into Patrice in the newsroom. The two began talking and were, in Barney’s words, “on kind of a date.”

I want to take a moment to point out how far Barney has now developed as a character. In the Season 4 episode "Shelter Island" (the one where Stella left Ted at the altar), a dejected and alcohol-carrying Robin showed up at Barney’s hotel room with the intention of sleeping with him. Barney rejected her then because he was sleeping with another woman. Actually, two women if you count the fact that Stella’s sister showed up after Robin left. Four seasons later, Barney once again rejected a vulnerable Robin, only this time it was because he was on a very domesticated date, a date where all he and his ladyfriend were doing were talking and playing cards. Barney may think he’s lost, but it looks like he’s finally on the right path. Now if only Robin could get there, too.

Of course, Robin immediately left after seeing Patrice at Barney's place. While the rest of the main characters on HIMYM have generally happy lives, Robin can never seem to catch a break. Her father wanted a son and has a strained relationship with her, she’s lost numerous jobs, she's lived in many apartments, she can’t have children, and just about every one of her romantic relationships ends poorly. I really hope the HIMYM writers aren’t planning on pulling the rug out from under us and revealing that Barney doesn’t actually go through with marrying Robin.

While Robin spent the episode pursuing Barney, Ted was busy babysitting Marvin... and ticking off Marshall and Lily in the process. With the GNB headquarters completed, Ted found himself with some free time and volunteered to watch Marvin while Lily’s dad couldn’t. In typical Ted fashion, he completely overstepped his boundaries. Marvin crawled for the first while Ted was watching him, which caused Lily to break out in tears. Ted took Marvin shopping for winter clothes, even buying him a Cleveland Browns shirt... which caused Marshall to break out in tears. When Marshall and Lily found “Ted’s Book of Marvin’s Firsts” (first spaghetti, first visit to Santa), the couple relieved Ted of his babysitting duties, eventually opening his eyes to the fact that with the GNB building done, Ted was without a baby of his own and had moved in on Marvin.

Marshall and Lily are back in my good graces. Please, HIMYM, don’t ever bring back the idea of Marshall trying to find his inner diva or whatever awful storyline that was. These two are the best when they’re scheming together and often acting as the slightly off-kilter voices of reason for the group.

Ted ended the episode by meeting with a headhunter, something that will hopefully help him find his next project in life. Now that we’re about a third into this season, I’m assuming Abby Elliott’s guest stint should be coming up — maybe she'll be Ted’s next project.

Maybe HIMYM isn’t running at the same high level it was once was, but the past few weeks have shown that the series still has some life in it. With superfluous characters like Victoria and Nick gone, HIMYM has remembered that its greatest strength is the relationships between the five main characters share. Thankfully we’re back to spending some time with these guys.

Notes and quotes

— Marshall and Lily have started bringing Marvin to the bar — er, restaurant that also happens to have a bar. It was only a matter of time.

— How long should a building take to build? It seems like the GNB building wrapped up pretty quickly. I’m not an architect, so I really have no idea what the timeframe is on that kind of thing.

— While it was sad to see a good tie die, Barney’s attempts to save Cornelius were classic Swarley.

— Cornelius the Tie to Barney before he died: “I’m getting too old for this shirt.”

— Robin’s terrible flirting with Barney: “Oh my god, you’re such a good folder. That’s, like, Gap good.”

— Post-lobster swollen Robin was frightening.

— Lily explaining to Robin the dangers of pursuing Barney: “Once you learned you couldn’t have lobster, you became obsessed. Barney’s the same thing, and this is gonna blow up in your face... just like the lobster blew up your face.”

— It was nice of the voice in Robin’s head to apologize for calling Robin a bitch. Or was it the other way around?

— Lily trying to make Marvin crawl: “Do it. If you ever wanna see these boobs again, crawl, you son-of-a-me.”

— Robin explaining to Lily why she had to sleep with Barney one final time: “When that doctor told me I couldn’t have lobster, and I did it anyway, it almost killed me. But here’s the thing — I never wanted lobster again. So the solution is obvious. The only way to get Barney out of my system is to get him into my system one last time. It’s brilliant, right?” Lily: “Not brilliant at all.” Robin: “Thanks for being on board.” Lily “Not on board.” Robin: “It means a lot.” Lily: “Big mistake.” Robin: “You’re my girl.”

— Robin, after Patrice showed up to carry her printer instead of Barney: “Nobody asked for your help, Patrice!”

— Um, Cobie Smulders dressed up as Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider might be one of the best moves HIMYM has ever made. You’re a lucky man, Taran Killam. Speaking of Killam, last week I made a joke about Smulders’ husband appearing on HIMYM as the mother, but as a few commenters pointed out, Killam has been on HIMYM before, playing Blauman in a few episodes. Sorry for that error.

— Barney on why Bro Bibs couldn’t have dinosaurs on them: “Bro Bibs are for grown men wearing bibs, Ted. I don’t want them looking like idiots.”

— Marshall to Ted at the pool: “You’re half naked. You're not a parent to any of these children. Don’t offer them candy.”

— Robin to Patrice after seeing her in Barney’s apartment: “Nobody asked you here, Patrice!”

— Patrice to Barney in the newsroom: “Whenever I see someone unhappy, I get the urge to give them cookies. And I really wanna give you cookies right now. Cookie?” Barney: “Lame. No thanks.” Patrice: “You sure? They’re heart-shaped. Sorry... a couple of them are broke.” Barney (crying): “I know how they feel! I’d love one!”

— I love that Marshall and Lily got their revenge on Ted by taking his daughter to see Santa for her first time a few years later. I also love that Marshall and Lily have the swords from the apartment hanging in their future house.

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Bill Kuchman
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