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How I Met Your Mother Ep. 9.06 “Knight Vision” a (mostly) solid return to form

How I Met Your Mother Ep. 9.06 “Knight Vision” a (mostly) solid return to form

himym 9.6

How I Met Your Mother Season 9, Episode 6 “Knight Vision”
Written by Chris Harris
Directed by Pamela Fryman
Airs Monday nights at 8pm ET on CBS

In recent weeks, How I Met Your Mother has struggled to fill the void of The Mother while her story line sits on the sidelines (her next appearance will be a big one next month), resorting to some ugly tactics to generate laughs and dramatics. Thankfully, “Knight Vision” is a return to form, built around a hilarious Indiana Jones reference that energizes not only Ted’s story line, but the rest of the subplots carrying on around him – and despite a lazy third act, the expert editing and comedy of “Knight Vision” carry it to the finish line.

Ted’s plot is the funniest he’s had in a long time: the night-visioned knight condemning him for his bad decisions (“You chose… poorly!”) is a nice device to show the yin and yang of having perspective on past events in one’s life. On one hand, future Ted has to realize what a dick he was being, trying to hook up with the emotional Cassie (hey, Anna Camp!). It’s not pleasant to watch him push himself through a terrible evening with her with sex hanging in the balance – and it’s even odder the show rewards him for this behavior, pointing out that him chasing after her was actually a good thing, because it led him to meeting The Mother.

So why does it work? Almost accidentally, Ted’s story in “Knight Vision” speaks to the ambiguity of perspective: it’s easy to think we did the right or noble thing at one point in life because we ended up happier in the end… but it’s never really something we know. Yes, Ted made poor choices all evening with Cassie: but she’s just one in a long line of women we’ve watched Ted chase after, failing miserably every time. If they led him to his happy ending, should they be something he regrets? We all have our flaws and scars: Ted’s might be a little unsettling to watch, but there is truth to the episode’s perspective on looking back: were they all just horrible, selfish decisions, or was Ted being guided by the hand of destiny to sit through another terrible experience with a woman? When “Knight Vision” tries to pick a side, it clearly has to go with the latter: but it doesn’t quite let Ted off the hook, the knowing look of resignation falling over Ted’s face every time he sinks himself down another notch to sleep with this woman (though it does still disturb me a bit how much it’s played for humor).

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The B- and C-plots of the episode are equally as clumsy at points – but like Moesby’s adventure into the Temple of Doom, there are plenty of hilarious gags and juuuust enough pathos riding through them to keep things entertaining. There are almost too many jokes: both Marshall and Robarney’s stories come to a screeching halt out of nowhere in the third act, taking a massive leap to make simple points (Marshall: be honest with your damn wife; Robarney: be proud of your ugly past). Both resolutions are quite broad in tone (and in the case of the dead minister, pretty damn dark), but we’ve spent enough time with these characters over the past nine years to understand what it took to get to this point: all the good decisions and the bad, the ones that caused them pain, gave them joy – and most importantly, led them to grow.

It’s there where “Knight Vision” really found its footing, connecting the three clumsy plots with that idea of perspective: although we might feel bad or good after doing something in life, we don’t know what impact it’ll have on our lives until much later (and therefore, whether it was a “wise” or “poor” choice – or unless we have a sassy black passenger explaining it to us, of course), when passing on the lessons we’ve learned onto the next generation. It’s that return to basics – Ted and company gleaning simple, relatable life lessons from their pop culture-referencing experiences – that makes “Knight Vision” work, even when its resorting to cheap tactics to fill the laugh count.

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Other thoughts/observations:

– the writers have really stepped up Barney’s high five game in the final season.

– a little How I Met Your Mother meta role-playing, recreating the “meet cute” scenes with Robin as Lily, Marshall as Barney, and vice versa.

– “you keep breaking the 9th commandment!” “no fat chicks?” “No, thou shall not lie?” “… with fat chicks?”

– Robin dropping “What the damn hell!!!” had me in stitches, as did her Lily voice.

– no pets in church would mean no ring bear… but the minister is dead, so ring bear!!!

– “She chose…. Wesley! I’ve been holding onto that one all night.”

– something to chew on: episode 11 of this season is titled “Mom and Dad”, and episode 12 is written by Bays & Thomas, titled “Bedtime Stories”. Might be two episodes to watch.