During last week’s uneven two episode How I Met Your Mother premiere, I mentioned that I saw many promising themes developing over the course of “The Best Man” and “The Naked Truth.” Moreover, I felt this series would not deliver its audience astray despite the flaws during that opening hour. These two observations were only strengthened during “The Ducky Tie,” which delivered a rather inclusive, rarely dull 23 minutes of television while showcasing this show’s capabilities when Bays and Thomas bring their ‘A’ game.
“The Naked Truth’s” closing moments featured Ted frozen as he recognizes Victoria (Ashley Williams) serving baked goods at the Architect’s Ball. “The Ducky Tie” brings us back to McClaren’s with Ted reenacting the rest of the events from that evening. This leads to a fun he said/she said banter over Ted’s initial reaction with Robin. After that exchange, Ted is left alone to explain the rest of his awkward blast from the past. Meanwhile, Barney spends a majority of the episode making fun of Marshall’s hideous Ducky Tie while the rest of the gang comment on Lily’s pregnancy boobs. Barney, Marshall, and Lily round out your ‘B’ story with Marshall suggesting his favorite hibachi grill, “Shinjitsu.” Barney protests which leads Robin to suggest that Barney can select dinner if he can go ten seconds without looking at Lily’s boobs. Ultimately the gang ends up at Shinjitsu which is emphasized by Barney’s “Dammit!”
Over the course of the series, Ted has been through many love interests and potential mothers with some of the more prominent ones being Robin, Stella, and even Zoey from last season. However, maybe the strongest of all of these failed relationships for Mr. Mosby is Victoria. Victoria and Ted displayed Ted at his most romantic. However, two things ruined that relationship. Victoria moved to Germany to strengthen her skill in all things culinary and pastry, and Ted could not get past the mantle he had placed Robin upon as being his potential “one.” This leads to Ted cheating on Victoria with Robin, thus, creating a big regret for Ted who let a great relationship get away. Since that moment, the only acknowledgement of Victoria has been off-camera with tedmosbyisnotajerk.com in response to Barney being responsbile for tedmosbyisajerk.com
Ted awkwardly tries to reconnect and play catch-up with Victoria only to have Robin interject and intensify the awkwardness. As one last ditch effort, Ted offers to help Victoria clean dishes as penance which to his surprise Victoria accepts and the spark begins to reappear. This spark creates a choice for these once lovers that asks if they will become star-crossed once more or if this will give both a moment of closure and a chance to answer “what could have been.”
Back at Shinjitsu, the on-going rivalry between Marshall and Barney continues, as Barney continuously mocks the restaurant while touting that anyone could work hibachi creates an opening for Marshall to offer a wager. If Barney can pull off all the trademarks of the chefs, then he could touch one of Lily’s boobs; however, Barney would have to wear the Ducky tie for a solid year if he were unsuccessful. As dinner and Ted’s story progresses, the gang quickly realizes that they have fallen into one of Barney’s schemes and quickly try to find their way out of the wager. Lily caves and offers to flash Barney in the alley for 30 seconds if Barney will forget the whole thing, but Marshall calls the bluff and places the wager back on the table. Barney almost completes the task and wins the bet, but Lily out of desperation flashes Barney in the closing moments leading Barney to be stuck wearing the duck-covered tie for a year.
The shenanigans at the Shinjitsu only serve as an intermission between the heavier moments of Ted and Victoria potentially rekindling their lost spar. This show has always danced a fine line between its more dramatic, soapy moments and its comedic hi-jinx. The hi-jinx helps the show get that much needed oomph for both Ted’s big and subtle moments at romance. While writing this review, the Dashboard Confessional track “The Brilliant Dance” returned to my sub-conscious from the obscurity which it came. In some ways, that song accurately describes what Victoria’s return means. Both Ted and Victoria are left to recall the mistakes and the wounds of the past while momentarily finding themselves at a standstill in the present. This comes at a cost as Ted discovers Victoria’s about to potentially find herself engaged to Klaus who she began dating in Germany a couple days after he break-up with Ted. Meanwhile, Victoria is left reminded why she and Ted weren’t allowed a happily ever after together. Robin will always be orbiting somewhere in Ted’s circle and maybe their close friendship still exists because both still have lingering feelings for each other.
The audience knows how this story ends, and that story does not end with Robin with mothering Ted’s children. With that said, does renewing the Ted-Robin romantic dynamic lead Ted’s journey in the wrong direction? Does Robin’s feelings for Barney impact the closure of their on-again/off-again romance? Maybe this observation by Victoria means that Ted has to take a couple steps back in order to get the perspective to make that final leap forward. However, I must admit that I remain enthusiastically in denial and choose to believe that ultimately it’s Ted and Victoria will get their happily ever after all.
Episode Grade: A-
Random Observations I couldn’t fit in:
– I love the return of one of the show’s better gags: “I said a Bang, Bang, Bangity Bang”
– The latest failed attempt at a meme for this show would be Barney uttering the word hashtag to try and create twitter trends.
– The biggest laugh the episode gave me may have been the awkward eight or so seconds of silence as Barney tried not to look at Lily’s boobs leading to the cut in at Shinjitsu with “Dammit!” Neil Patrick Harris really gave some great body language to portray Barney’s struggle.
– I’m now curious as to how and where the incident of Marshall shirtless at the casino while Barney is wearing the Ducky Tie happens.