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HIMYM Episode Review: S9E21 “Gary Blauman”


So gang, how are you feeling about that episode? My overall impression was that it was awesome, but with some segments here and there that we could have done without. I’m going to jump into the review and hopefully have time to comment later in the day…

We began on the Wednesday three days after the wedding, at 8 pm. It’s Ted and The Mother’s first date! I thought there was a mistake when they talked about how it’s a rule that guys wait four days to call (but we know it’s three). In S4E21 “Three Days Rule”, Ted mentions that when he met The Mother, he didn’t wait three days. He called her right away.

So my first thought was ohhhh noooo more continuity errors, but then I realized he must have called prior to that day to set up the date. So we’re all good, nothing to see here folks. Keep moving.

They head to a Scottish-Mexican fusion restaurant, which sounds even grosser than Marshall’s mom’s mayo salad. The place is called Pedro McKinnon, and they had a bagpipe mariachi band. I assumed this was a gentle nod to the mistake that the writers made in the S8E23 “Something Old”. In that episode Ted mentions a trip to Spain and interacting with a mariachi band. Only problem is that mariachis are a Mexican thing, not a Spanish thing. So it was nice that they paid tribute to their little mistake by including this incredibly odd eatery.

I was pleased/annoyed to note that people are wearing purple again. I’m honestly very tired of the back and forth with HIMYM color theory, but there’s one idea that I keep being drawn to. One of the strongest contenders in the question of The Mother’s name is currently Violet. I can’t make any better sense of the clues than that. There’s no uniformity and no common bond between characters/episodes that feature purple clothing thus far. Check out my article to peruse options for what The Mother’s name may be.

So Ted starts to tell the story of Gary Blauman, because what else would Ted do for a first date? The guy has got stories, that’s his jam. We jump back to the day of the wedding – we’re finally at the point where everyone is in their fancy attire! Robin is visited by Mr. Gary Blauman, whom we haven’t seen in ages. There was some confusion with his character, as Barney said he died after he quit his job and tried to pee on the conference table. But this was clearly Barney exaggerating (S3E15 “The Chain of Screaming”).

We also know that, at least at one point, this character was gay. Marshall mentions how his marriage with his husband is pending as of New York passing legislature allowing gay civil unions – I think that was in a season 5 episode. It was the one where Robin says she wants to focus on her career and then she meets Don. I believe it was Blauman that I’m thinking of, but it could be the Blitz. The Proffessor should know for sure :)

Anyway, I enjoyed the parallel between Cobie’s real life and her TV life. In real life she’s married to Taran Killam, who plays her gay guy friend on the show. On the show she’s married to Neil Patrick Harris, who is her gay guy friend in real life. I always like seeing cameos from significant others, so seeing him (and Scooter!) was nice.

So Robin finally has her wedding freakout – a CODE RED regarding where to seat Blauman. Marshall takes on the challenge but needs Ted’s assistance. I’m not sure why he needed help, as Marshall is quite proud of his seating skills and even brags about the Table 27 annual reunion. This begins a whole chain where characters overhear his name and then say “Wait – did you say Gary Blauman? I ____ that guy!” In Ted’s case, it was “I hate that guy!” We flash back to a few years ago, when Ted was obsessed with a Teddy Roosevelt biography he just read.

This part made me laugh, because I get super annoying when I’m involved in a great book (or TV show…)! I liked it when Barney said “That’s it! No more books, Ted. I don’t like the person you become when you read books!” The gang allows Ted one last fun fact about his new fave former president, and we think it’s all done with. But then we jump to a party around the same time, when they were celebrating something or another.

Ted finds a lady friend that also loved that biography! But alas, Blauman shows up and initiates a war of attrition for the lady’s interest. Everyone is exchanging Theodore Roosevelt facts at a rapid fire pace. Ted and Blauman have an excellent psychic convo where they insult one another using antiquated insults like “You’re Taft”! Nobody wants to be Taft after that whole bathtub incident in from history. Anyway, Ted says days passed and we have this obligatory scene where the men have beards now because so much time has gone by. I could have done without this part. It felt unnecessary.

Shortly thereafter we are back at the wedding, and Lily overhears them talking about Gary Blauman. She LOVES that guy! Turns out she has a pretty good reason. Back in 2006, when her and Marshall were broken up, she aimed to get a breakup tattoo. She was heavily inspired by her breakup song, “Fly” by Sugar Ray. Ted comments that she really doesn’t know how to do breakups, and then we see something I had been waiting for – a Marshall and Lily high five. To me that high five means all is well in Marshall&Lilyland. That’s love, bitch!

Lily’s tattoo looked pretty normal to me – like a butterfly in profile view. But apparently it’s just half a butterfly, and she’s been “using cover-up and strategically placed straps for a long time” to keep it on the down low. There was a nice moment where we all reminisced about Ted’s tramp stamp and how it will basically never stop being hilarious. Something that confused me, though…Lily says that Blauman saved Marshall “from a lifetime of looking at Sugar Ray every year when we do it on your birthday”. Does this mean that Lily and Marshall are now at the point where they only have sex a couple times a year? I just can’t imagine that. 

I thought maybe it was in reference to a specific position, but from what I can gather it is just a reference to later on when they are actually old old and not as amorous as they are these days. But can you really imagine Lily in particular getting less frisky as she ages? I sorta see her as an inappropriate old lady that lets herself pinch cute guys on the bottom. But I digress – let’s jump back to the Ted and The Mother first date!

The couple is walking around the block when suddenly The Mother spots an ex – Louis – and hides behind a van. She pulls Ted to hide with her, and I was glad to see Ted as the normal one on a date for once. She did the weird thing, but Ted has done so many weird things that he isn’t scared away by it. She tells Ted that she’s not ready to date, and again, Ted gets it.

This is beautiful character progression for Ted. Old Ted would have given up right then, and lamented his bad luck through at least a full episode. Older Ted would have pushed too hard, too fast, and frightened her away (as he mentions at the end of this episode). But Current Ted has tempered himself and learned how to let things be. FINALLY. I spent the entirety of the date waiting for Ted to Ted it up and I was SO HAPPY that he didn’t. The Mother is ready to go home, but she lets Ted walk her home so she can hear the end of the story. Ted’s stories are so addictive!

Okay we have to jump around some more. This episode had a whole lot of back and forth but I didn’t mind it so much. Yes, some of the Blauman stuff was (in my opinion) unnecessary, but it also brought a lot to the table in terms of plot progression and explanations. So I will take it! Now it’s time for Barney to say “Did you say Gary Blauman?!” He follows that with a misdirection by saying “I…love…that we have the opportunity to destroy Gary Blauman’s weekend by kicking him out of the wedding!”

So what’s Barney’s beef with Blauman? Oh nothing, just a little matter of theft….fry theft, to be exact. Blauman committed some unpardonable sins in Barney’s mind. First, he took not one, not two, not three, but FOUR fries from Barney’s order. Didn’t even ask! Didn’t even bother to order his own, just blatantly stole them from under The Barnacle’s nose. The worst part, though, is that the last fry was no ordinary French fry. No no, the fourth and last fry that Blauman stole was an accidental curly!

How dare he…and what is that?! Ok, so it’s just a curly fry that has been mixed in with regular fries. But it somehow feels like you’ve stumbled upon a treasure when you find one in your order. I don’t even like fries that much and I understood the horror of having your accidental curly stolen by a brute like Blauman. 

Then we find out that Billy Zabka knows of Gary Blauman also, because Billy Zabka is in like every flippin’ episode now and has something to say about everything and everyone. I’m a little Zabka-ed out at this point, but it was nice to see someone acknowledge his poetry. It’s hard to hate on Blauman when he seemed legitimately unaware that Zabka even had a movie career. The next person to comment on Blauman is a big one, though. James hates that he once thought he loved Gary Blauman!

So we finally discover what was up with James and the giant divorce (worst kid’s book ever, am I right?) He slept with Blauman, Tom found out, Tom kicked James out of the house, and now their kids are from a broken home. So that’s totally all Blauman’s fault except actually no, that’s on James. No one is to blame for him cheating except himself. I was worried that they wouldn’t touch on that, but later Blauman calls him out and specifically says that James needs to stop blaming other people for his own problems.

I liked how Ted and Marshall had these totally confused looks on their faces like wait, what? Blauman is gay? Ted was so triumphant as he took another look at his Blauman experience from a different perspective. Now he (I assume) loves Blauman, because who doesn’t like when someone thinks you’re hot? That’s how Ted interpreted that scenario, but I guess there are alternate explanations. Maybe Ted and the hot girl were actually battling for Blauman. Maybe Blauman is bi, who knows!

So now everyone is conflicted about WTF to do regarding Blauman, so Judge Big Fudge steps in. He carefully considers the case, but realizes that one wedding law trumps all. If it’s for the bride, it’s a yes. Whatever she wants, she gets, and in this case, the bride wanted Blauman. We don’t know the nature of their friendship yet – I guess we probably never will – but I don’t mind. I don’t need every little detail of Blauman’s interpersonal relationships for the past 5+ years.

Before we proceed with the rest of the review, I will just note that this upcoming scene is where I started to fall apart. Ted and The Mother are standing outside her building, and everything was just TOO similar to S1E1 “Pilot” when Ted and Robin are outside her building. Back then Ted didn’t see the signs, he didn’t realize that he was getting the signal to kiss Robin, and he totally screwed everything up. This time Ted knows when to say goodbye, and he doesn’t bother with an elaborate explanation of why he would be a good boyfriend. 

Ted just says “Well, I guess this is where I leave you.” It’s such a poignant moment because this, this exact point right here is where it has gone wrong SO MANY TIMES. When you’re single for a long time, it can feel like relationships (or potential relationships) always sputter out at the same place. We’ve been right here with Ted when things turned sour a million times before, but we know that this time it’s different!

Or do we know that? I kept forgetting. I honestly was worried that Ted would mess this up and make me stress out even more for the remainder of the show. But Ted says goodnight, and walks away. That is probably the hardest lesson for him to learn, the hardest feat for him to conquer. Doing nothing. Letting go. Letting life happen on its own schedule, and not on some preconceived idea of the appropriate Ted time. It’s something that most of us struggle with, and it was truly a joyful moment to see Ted finally get it right.

Eight years earlier, I probably would have given some embarrassing speech, confessed my love, and scared her off. But I didn’t, because somehow I just knew this was all gonna work out.

And she calls to him! He walks away, but she calls to him. Now Ted isn’t chasing – he’s making the most of the moment. The Mother asks him to finish his story, and the saga continues…

Now we’re back to the wedding day again. James gets his wedding ring back from Barney, and goes to get Tom back. Marshall reminisces about how he cared so much about everyone at his wedding, but he’s barely in touch with many of them now. Then Ted gives the kids some words of wisdoms that had me openly crying:

And that’s how it goes kids. The friends, neighbors, drinking buddies and partners in crime you love so much when you’re young…as the years go by, you just lose touch. That being said, I did manage to keep track of a few people…

(Cue Corina openly weeping ugly tears of happy sadness at this point)

Ted tells us how some of our favorite characters ended up, and that’s when it fully hit me that this show is ending. For reals. Like it is leaving, and not coming back. They are showing us the end game scenarios for characters because it’s….almost….over. I’m going to avoid focusing on that for now, though, and instead take note of how happy everyone seems to be in the future:

Carl is still behind the bar at MacLaren’s, and it’s a family business now. His under-age son was right there with him, keeping customers in line.

Jeanette got arrested for mailing jars of urine to Val Kilmer (but not that Val Kilmer, apparently?) and she was forced into mandatory court appointed therapy. Surprise – her therapist was Kevin! They ended up together in what is I guess the healthiest relationship she ever had. 

Ranjit had some good stock picks and now he owns the limo company – hooray! I did not see his wife there with him but I am assuming she’s still alive because I don’t want to think about anyone at all being dead.

Patrice has a morning radio talk show that had a familiar voice calling in – Robin, saying that “sometimes I feel like he doesn’t listen”. So unless someone else has Robin’s exact voice and uses the same DAMMIT PATRICE catchphrase, Robin is still alive as of 2030 and presumably still with Barney. I’m not sure why she would swap him for some other guy that doesn’t listen. So unless they specifically demonstrate otherwise I will not be considering any dead Robin theories. 

Zabka became the youngest poet ever to win the American Humanities Medal for Literature, and now he’s working on a collection of travel essays. I honestly did not care how he turned out but now that I know, I’m glad. Good for you, Zabka. You’re the best!

Ted still sees Zoey on the news sometimes as she fights the good fight against the man. It doesn’t always work out well for her, but she keeps trying. Ted is right, it is nice to know that she’s out there.

Scooter…Scooter, Scooter, Scooter. We saw Cobie’s real life husband so of course we had to see Neil’s real life partner (fiancé) also. How did Scooter get over his love for Lily? He found someone that was the next best thing…Jasmine, AKA Stripper Lily, AKA Lily’s doppelganger! That’s a cheesy resolution but I adore it. It’s a sitcom, it can get silly like that without losing too much in the translation. This episode in particular felt like it was done by a deft hand, which I appreciated.

Blitz had a brief gambling addiction, but he broke it when he finally walked away from a slot machine…an old lady took his place and immediately won big. Aw, man!

Sandy Rivers is still being very Sandy Riversish and sexually harassing women he works with. He’s been relegated to Russian news but he hasn’t changed his ways. I guess he’s their problem now.

James got Tom back! They are together as of 2030 and we see their kids as young adults! I guess by that point Eli and Sadie are young adults, or maybe almost out of their teens? I’m too lazy to do the math right now. Addition is hard. :)

Good ol’ Gary Blauman drove away from the wedding, but he came back. Then came yet another deep speech from Ted that had me crying even more:

You will be shocked, kids, when you discover how easy it is in life to part ways with people forever. That’s why, when you find someone you want to keep around, you do something about it.

Now we’re back at the first date, and we’re staying there for the rest of the episode (like 2 more minutes, but hey, I was glad to get settled in one place/time) There’s another moment where Ted tells The Mother goodnight, and then things almost feel like they’re in slow motion. The Mother leans in, and it’s so obviously the moment when she wants him to kiss her. She’s giving him the signal, but it’s a totally different situation than the one he was in with Robin so many years ago. 

The Mother said she isn’t ready to date, so Ted doesn’t go for the kiss. When she leans in, though, and makes the first kiss contact, he embraces the moment. He doesn’t rush her and ruin it. He doesn’t stop to obsess over the timing and how she probably needs space and is this the right thing to do and blah blah blah. (Speaking of, I forgot to mention that Blah Blah’s name is actually Carol!)

In this moment, Ted trusts that destiny, the universe, whatever, will work out. He trusts that The Mother can make her own decision, and when she goes for the kiss, he is glad to participate. He doesn’t second guess her or think that she probably isn’t ready – he gives her appropriate credit and trusts in her decision. Luckily, her decision was to kiss Ted. Ted is finally at a good place, doing the right thing, and it all came together for him at just the right time, with the right person. Isn’t that what we’ve been hoping for him to experience this whole time?

The episode ends with The Mother wanting to walk around more with Ted. He agrees, but pauses as she starts to walk away. She asks what he is doing, and his response is simple: “Remembering this”. Because he knows that she’s the one, and he knows that this precise moment will define the rest of his life. He just needed a second to be in that moment, and not the past or future, to appreciate what was happening. 

By the time the previews for next week aired I was completely destroyed. I can’t even image what I looked like but it was the face of emotional devastation. It was the epitome of all things bittersweet. This week’s episode gave me hope for the remaining episodes to come…did you feel the same? 

Reposted with permission from (Written by me)

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