How I Met Your Mother Review: “The Poker Game” (Season 9, Episode 5)

The Poker Game

Looking at the number of episodes left in How I Met Your Mother‘s 9th season, it’s beginning to seem like a overly-daunting, never-ending list. In case there’s any question, that is not a good thing. We’re supposed to want TV shows to carry on forever, always craving just one more episode featuring the characters we love.

While the show’s ninth outing hasn’t been horrible so far, the entire season taking place on one weekend is beginning to seem like too much. With 24 episodes running roughly 22 minutes each, and the characters probably sleeping and using the bathroom off screen, there really isn’t all that much time in the weekend that we aren’t seeing. I’m beginning to think this was a cute idea in concept, but when it actually comes down to the execution, it’s falling short.

Again, that isn’t to necessarily knock the execution of season 9. So far it’s been exponentially better than season 8. But to pull off a season set up this way, there needs to be some phenomenal storytelling taking place, and so far that hasn’t been the case. The stories have been okay, there have been some laughs, but there isn’t anything with a wow factor. It’s all felt very meh, and tonight’s episode is no different.

The main plot this week revolves around a poker game where Robin wins James’ wedding ring. Robin is sick of James bashing marriage all weekend, so she decides to get vicious with her poker skills. James runs to his mother, who also ends up losing everything to Robin in a game of strip poker. This puts Barney in an awkward place, having to choose sides between the family he grew up with and the family he’s about to start.

While all that’s going on, we find out that Lily and Marshall have been mad at Ted for the last six years since they think he didn’t get them a wedding present. Ted did in fact get them a present, and he’s mad that they never sent him a thank-you note. That led to years and years of pent up anger that could’ve been easily solved if someone had just said something. The passive-aggressive lifestyle at its finest.

I will say that I really enjoyed the Ted, Marshall and Lily plot. Passive-aggressiveness can be really funny, and that’s definitely the case here. It’s totally in character for that to be bugging all three of them for the last six years, and the flashbacks of them passively trying to get the message across are hilarious. I love their obsessions with gift giving and thank-you notes. It was a great one-episode plot to throw into the picture.