Tonight’s How I Met Your Mother worked and it didn’t. Bad news first. Robin and Marshall never hang out? “Little Minnesota” anyone? Their awkward dinner was just an excuse for Marshall to explain the titular “Mermaid Theory,” which did provide the amusing sight of Barney and Marshall as horny sailors. But nothing else made much of an impact (save for Cobie Smulders as a drunken manatee about to metamorphosize).
The Barney/Lily plot fared better. At first I saw Barney’s overly emotional state as a callback to Barney learning the identity of his father. But in a clever use of fractured narrative, Future Ted finally put the pieces together and remembered that Barney offended Lily by way of her soon-to-be-pregnant frame. Bits like the ice cream cone revealed as Marshall and Lily’s unborn child and proof that Future Ted’s recollection of Barney’s magic trick actually did make sense paid off. Don’t you love it when a story comes together?
But what I liked best was Ted yachting with “The Captain” (Kyle MacLachlan, older but still hot). Even though we knew Ted wasn’t in any real danger for a second on the open sea, “The Captain’s” nervous habit of making everything sound like a murder plot exploited what David Lynch realized decades ago; the guy is brilliantly creepy. I could care less about Zoey, who was basically an afterthought in this episode. But (and I know this won’t happen) if “The Captain” could hang out at MacLaren’s from time to time, hit on Robin, spar with Barney… yeah, I’d watch that.