Without Robin, the now-four-person gang decides to crash a snooty party featuring such guests as Arianna Huffington, Peter Bogdanovich, and New York Times crossword editor Will Shortz (all appearing as themselves). Ted, of course, feels right at home among these opera-going, wine-tasting, poetry-reciting intellectuals. Meanwhile, Barney wants to go to a robot wrestling sporting event, and Marshall and Lily start to talk about extending their family.
Lily, Marshall and Ted are hanging at MacLaren's when Barney walks in, excited to announce that he has five front-row tickets to "Robots vs. Wrestlers." Ted and Marshall geek out — even though they don't know quite what "Robots vs. Wrestlers" entails, Ted surmises that "it's some sort of sporting event that pits robots against wrestlers," which just sounds awesome. Lily wants to know who the fifth ticket is for. Barney admits it's for Robin — even though she's not hanging out with them anymore, there's no way she can turn down something like Robots vs. Wrestlers.
Except...she does. When Lily calls Robin to invite her, Robin says that she has a date with Don the night of the event and she still feels that hanging out with Ted and Barney poses a roadblock to her budding relationship with Don.
Barney can't believe Robin turned them down: "'Robots vs. Wrestlers' is our most important tradition as a group!" Lily points out that it can't be a tradition if they've never done it before, but Barney insists that it's going to be so awesome that it will be a tradition going forward. Barney starts to freak out a bit over the idea of the group falling apart.
Lily reassures him that he doesn't have to worry about her and Marshall having a baby, because that's way down the road. Marshall agrees, but hints that he would like it to be a little closer down the road. Ted takes the opportunity to quote a Ralph Waldo Emerson poem called "Friendship," but Barney interrupts him with a rude farting noise. Future Ted tells us that the rest of the group does that any time he tries to get "a little high-minded."
Later, in Ted's apartment, Barney finds an unopened invitation sitting on Ted's dining-room table. He immediately thinks that Robin's getting married and goes into full-on freakout mode. Ted tells him to calm down; the invitation's not even for them, it's for Marissa Heller, a past resident of the apartment who apparently never bothered to change her address or have her mail forwarded. Ted and Marshall kept getting her mail for years after moving in, and used the scraps of information from each brochure or advertisement to piece together a picture of her. They know she's a golfer, owns a bird and likes wicker furniture. But they don't know what she looks like.
Ted opens the invitation and is agog at the fact that it's for a social gathering in the penthouse apartment at the Alberta, one of the most beautiful buildings in New York. Ted decides that he has to go to this party. Marshall vetoes the idea because it's the same night as "Robots vs. Wrestlers". Ted points out that the party will have an open bar. Barney revises the agenda for the evening: First, crash the party and have a few drinks; then go see "Robots vs. Wrestlers."
So that's what they do. Lily sportingly agrees to pose as Marissa Heller. The plan works perfectly...until the real Marissa Heller arrives just before Lily checks in. Barney tries to chat her up and fails miserably, but Ted is able to get into her good graces by chatting with her about architecture. She's so impressed with Ted's knowledge that she invites the whole group to the party.
On the elevator ride up to the party, Lily tries to engage Marissa in conversation about The Young and the Restless, based on the fact that a Soap Opera Illustrated addressed to Marissa had once arrived at Ted's apartment. Marissa coolly replies that she doesn't own a TV...and the only operas she watches are at the Met. Lily, Marshall and Barney all cringe at this, but Ted grins hugely and whispers, "Dibs."
They arrive at a completely swanky party, which Barney immediately coins "Douchepocalypse." Marshall, in his jeans and button-down shirt, immediately feels underdressed. Ted immediately recognizes Peter Bogdonovich, who's having a conversation with Arianna Huffington and Will Shortz of the New York Times crossword. Ted's in heaven. He begs the rest of the group to just give him 20 minutes to enjoy the party.
Ted crosses the room and joins the host of the party, Jefferson van Smoot (Michael York), in a conversation about madrigals. As he moves from conversation to conversation, Ted manages to charm everyone at this party. Meanwhile, the rest of the gang doesn't fare as well. Barney's usual pickup tactics don't work on these women, and Marshall tries — and fails — to have a conversation about film with Peter Bogdonovich. (His contribution? Pointing out that Willem Dafoe's name sounds like a conversation between a frog and a parrot. This is all that a Columbia-educated lawyer can talk about at this party, apparently.)
After 20 minutes, Marshall, Lily and Barney are more than ready to get out of dodge. In an effort to find Ted, Marshall bangs a gong that just happens to be next to him. The entire party falls silent and the guests stare at Marshall, horrified. "That gong is a 500-year-old gong that hasn't been struck since W.S. Gilbert hit it at the London premiere of The Mikado in 1885," Jefferson van Smoot indignantly tells Marshall. Marshall tells Ted that it's time to go. Ted tells the gang that he's having fun and would rather stay at the party. Barney is horrified and tells Ted that he's out of the gang forever if he misses "Robots vs. Wrestlers" (but he can apply for re-acceptance after two years). Ted is all, "Yeah, okay, I'll see you tomorrow." But before they leave, Barney bangs the gong loudly one more time. Hey, guys? The fact that you feel out of place at this party does not give you the right to act like a bunch of rude, inconsiderate jerks.
So Marshall, Lily and Barney go to "Robots vs. Wrestlers." "Best tradition ever!" Marshall crows. Barney gripes that the gang is over. "Ted's gone, Robin's gone...we might as well all go our separate ways." Lily points out that they're all allowed to have their own lives outside the group. Barney freaks out, thinking that Lily is pregnant. Lily says that she's not pregnant, but eventually they're all going to have to grow up and move on. (Meanwhile, the wrestler in the arena kicks the robot, who responds in robot voice, "Is that all you got, bitch?") Barney asks Lily to promise that she won't get pregnant for another year. She says she can't make that promise.
Barney says they can only have a baby under the following conditions: 1) that they never love the baby more than they love Barney; 2) that they occasionally allow Barney to use the baby to pick up chicks; 3) which may include dropping the baby from a two-story building and having Barney heroically catch it; 4) no breast-feeding in front of Barney. "Actually," says Barney," scratch that last one. You can whip 'em out whenever you want."
But Barney is distracted from continuing when the robot pulls the mask off the wrestler in the arena. Turns out it's Ted's doppelganger: Mexican Wrestler Ted. Barney takes a picture with his cell phone and sends it to Ted.
Meanwhile, back at the party, Ted is awesome at everything from blind taste-testing wines to singing in an a capella quartet. As he's reciting Dante's Divine Comedy in Italian, he receives Barney's text message. Realizing that he's being a jerk and that he really belongs with his friends, Ted makes a hasty exit from the party.
Later, at MacLaren's, Barney is up to Rule No. 83 about Marshall and Lily's baby. As Barney gets up to get another drink, Marshall and Lily take an opportunity for some serious talk. Marshall feels ready to have a baby, but Lily worries about missed opportunities. For example, if they'd already had a kid, they would have missed seeing Mexican Wrestler Ted. Lily suggests that when they finally see Barney's doppelganger, they can start trying for a baby.
Ted comes in, and Barney begs him to come back to the gang, promising to listen to all of Ted's "douchey" poems. Ted tries again to recite Emerson's "Friendship," but he's interrupted by a loud farting noise from...Robin. She's back, with no explanation (at least not yet). So... did things fall apart with Don? Or did she just decide that she was going to try to balance things? I guess we'll find out next week.
There were parts of the episodeI liked. They all had to do with Ted. I loved Ted at this party — he was in his element. This wasn't the douchey pretentious Ted from college, who would put on fake horn-rimmed glasses and pretend to be smarter than he was. 2010 Ted is smart, and cultured, and he fit in very well at that party. So it bugged me a lot to see: a) the rest of his friends acting so rude and boorish at an event that they weren't even invited to in the first place; and b) Ted rushing out at the end like he didn't belong at the party. It just didn't sit well with me.
Plus, none of Barney/Lily/Marshall's actions at the party seemed true to their characters. There was a time, when I watched earlier seasons of this show, that this group of five characters seemed like people I would actually want to hang out with. Now? I can't say that about any of them except for Ted. The rest of them are turning into vapid, obnoxious caricatures that I can barely stand to be around for 30 minutes on a Monday night. Not to mention the fact that what once was a very funny, original, clever show has degenerated into a formulaic sitcom that relies on fart sounds to get laughs. And all of this makes me really, really sad.
What are your thoughts? Do you agree or disagree? Hash it out in the comments while I curl up in a sad ball with my DVDs of Seasons 1 through 4.
Without Robin, the now-four-person gang decides to crash a snooty party featuring such guests as Arianna Huffington, Peter Bogdanovich, and New York Times crossword editor Will Shortz (all appearing as themselves). Ted, of course, feels right at home among these opera-going, wine-tasting, poetry-reciting intellectuals. Meanwhile, Barney wants to go to a robot wrestling sporting event, and Marshall and Lily start to talk about extending their family...