How I Met Your Mother Season 9, Episode 18 “Rally”
Written by Carter Bays & Craig Thomas
Directed by Pamela Fryman
Airs Monday nights at 8pm ET on CBS
Part of How I Met Your Mother‘s charm in early seasons was its self-referential humor; the callbacks, recurring jokes, and allusions to the lives of Future Ted and the gang is part of what fosters the show’s deep connection with its audience. Often, these jokes and timeline-bending moments are more than just throwaway jokes, serving to define a moment, an experience, or a philosophy tied to the show’s central ‘mystery’, the one stated in the show’s title. However, in later seasons, this growing list of unfinished story lines and recurring jokes started working against the show, a call to tired jokes and dragged-out mysteries (like that freakin’ pineapple, and the Slap Bet) that couldn’t pay off: the emotional undercurrent of most HIMYM mythologies demanding a meaningful resolution, many of which were either tied to Ted knowing the mother – or in recent seasons, the events surrounding (and following) Barney and Robin’s wedding in Farhampton.
The ninth season of HIMYM hasn’t strayed from this, especially in the earlier, wheel-spinning episodes: be it Linus, the bottle of expensive scotch, or Ted’s wedding gift to Robin, the first dozen or so episodes of the show’s final season only made its Playbook thicker – and in places where old jokes kept coming back, more redundant. But in the last few episodes – beginning with “Unpause”, highlighted by “How Your Mother Met Me” and “Sunrise”, and continuing in “Rally” – How I Met Your Mother‘s been beginning to close these long-running gags, turning insignificant jokes into emotional moments of farewell, a reminder that despite the pains of seasons six through 9.5 were well worth the wait.
The big conceit of “Rally” is that Barney finally got his Weekend at Barney‘s moment, the gang propping his hungover ass up for all the wedding photos he missed while in his post-Truthing state of intoxication. Except the group didn’t: everything about “Rally” is connected to Barney’s penchant for lying over the years, over things small (the identity of Barnert Stinsonheimer, for example) and large (the actual ‘secret’ ingredient in his Hangover Fixer Elixir). Though Barney’s told many a doozy of a lie over the years, he’s always acted as the show’s horny seer, a man who uses misdirection and trickery (almost like a magician would) to reveal truths about the people around him – acts and lies he does because he loves the people around him, something “Rally” ultimately reminds the Farhampton group (and by proxy, the audience).
And as we see in the past and future, that knowledge pays massive dividends for Barney’s best man: it’s revealed that Barney gave Ted the elixir the morning after Stella left him at the altar, a best friend reaching out to a broken man and trying to help him push forward. Although I’m more than willing to admit that the randomness of the universe probably played the biggest role in Ted’s future, there’s obviously a correlation made in the script between Barney getting Ted back in the game four years ago, and Ted getting to enjoy his happy, hungover ending in 2022 (with the first sight of the Mother and the two kids together, so quit it with the damn death theories, people) with the family we’ve watched him try to manifest so desperately all these years.
Although the episode is constructed around Barney’s love for the group, it’s when the attention shifts to Ted that the episode delivers its true emotional impact: with Robin finally behind him, we’re able to enjoy his interactions with The Mother (CAN WE PLEASE NAME HER ALREADY? I’m so tired of writing that) for what they’re supposed to be – and maybe I’m just a sucker for a family moment, but Ted’s kids running into his bedroom is one of the series’ most satisfying images, the first complete image of the happy Mosby family we’ve waited for years to see. And in an episode full of Ted eating bacon (hilarious), Marshall going bald in a three-week period in 2020 (thanks to a stressful campaign), and Lily gushing over Robin’s sexual advances (just weird), those final moments of HIMYM provide a needed emotional foundation for the episode, a reminder of the cathartic power of hope How I Met Your Mother’s made its signature over the years.
– The Mother writes a popular book in 2020… I feel like there was a hint to this in an earlier episode, but I can’t remember it explicitly. Anyone?
– I went back and watched season eight’s “Farhampton” recently, which begs the question: what goes wrong at the wedding that has Ted telling an old woman it was a “long day”? Yes, they have to deal with Robin’s pissed off father (off screen, apparently) and the last-minute freak outs seen in seasons seven and eight by both Robin and Barney… but what possibly could drive Ted to a lower place emotionally than he is now?
– Drunk Marshall celebrates his win as justice of Gotham City, and promises to make Batman work harder, shining the Bat-signal for “smaller stuff” when needed.
– I’ve always found Lily’s descent into complete WASP in flash-forwards to be hilarious, ever since we saw them enjoying a “sandwich” at their college reunion.
– “My dad did the same thing with my Care Bear and an axe… needless to say, I wasn’t late to kindergarten again.”
– Future Lily, when she sees Marvin walk into a bar: “You son of a ME.” Single best joke of the episode.
– “Hey, you’re a grown up, why you throwing a Tantrum!”