When it was first rumored that season 9 of How I Met Your Mother would take place entirely over the course of one weekend, I had a feeling there would be quite a few flashbacks. After all, there’s only so many episodes you can pull out of 72 hours of life. But for as many flashbacks as I thought we’d see, I didn’t think there’d be anything quite like Platonish.
Platonish is almost completely a flashback. It’s set up as Barney striving to cheer Robin up when she’s upset that her mom won’t be attending the wedding, but really that’s just an excuse to tell a story from six months earlier. That story centers around Barney trying to complete a series of challenges from Robin and Lily, before ultimately realizing that Robin is the one he loves. While that’s going on, Ted and Marshall are at a basketball game, and Marshall spends most of the time trying to convince Ted that he is still in love with Robin.
The most striking thing about this giant flashback is how out of place it seems. The episode is set up as Barney telling a story, which means it’s really Ted telling a story about Barney telling a story. I suppose that allows it to make at least some sense that the story is intermixed between Ted and Barney, showing things about both of them that the other would have no way of knowing about.
Still, to have almost the entire episode be a flashback seems to be cheating a bit. Does it really count as an entire season taking place over the course of one weekend if major chunks of it really took place months or years before? The flashback would’ve made for a much better episode if it didn’t have the frame story surrounding it, but with the way this season is set up, that would’ve been an even bigger problem than what we got tonight.
While the Ted and Robin saga is a bit better then the Barney and Robin saga, they’re both completely played out at this point. Because of that, the more serious parts of the episode are lacking in emotional weight. That being said, there is one non-humorous part that actually works: Barney’s interaction with the Mother. I don’t necessarily like it because of the effect it has on Barney, but rather because it’s our best look at the Mother since the first episode. It’s great to finally see her for an extended amount of time, and I hope that’s a sign of things to come in the future, as so far she’s proved to be a quality addition to the show.
I do have a slight problem with the efforts the writers are going to in order to make the Mother seem like the perfect girl for Ted. It’s almost like they’re trying too hard to make her become Ted. It works at times, but if they tread too deeply into that territory, it’s going to risk becoming a bit ridiculous.