How I Met Your Mother Review: “The Rehearsal Dinner” (Season 9, Episode 12)

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With half a season of How I Met Your Mother to go, it’s nearly time for Robin and Barney to get married, Lily and Marshall to figure out if they’re going to Italy, and most importantly of all, for Ted to meet the Mother. But before we can get to any of that, there’s still a lot that has to happen, such as the rehearsal dinner.

This week’s episode, The Rehearsal Dinner, is about (you guessed it) Barney and Robin’s rehearsal dinner. The episode opens with Barney in a jail of sorts, handcuffed to a pipe. It turns out he isn’t in a traditional jail, but rather a laser tag security office. Robin is there as well, dressed in a stunning gown because she’s supposed to be at her rehearsal dinner instead of bailing her fiancee out. Barney decides to tell the story that lead him there to the security guard, sending us on a series of flashbacks of moments that happened long before season 9.

Barney has been convinced that Robin had prepared a laser tag rehearsal dinner since the moment he found out his bachelor party was a prank. He assumed everything that had happened for months was a hint at this surprise. He was so convinced that the entire night was an elaborate scheme, that he ran out to go the arcade and start the party. Once there, finding out that it isn’t his dinner doesn’t sit well, and he ends up getting taken into custody. But it’s once Robin comes to rescue him that things take a twist for the more awesome.

Over the years I’ve been about 50/50 in terms of how I feel about Barney’s surprises. He’s had some really good ones that have made for entertaining episodes, but at other times, such as his entire proposal to Robin, it just hasn’t felt right. This episode definitely falls into the first category. As usual, I’ll avoid spoiling what specifically happens at the end, but just know it’s a worthy twist for this couple, showing at times they still can be as awesome as they were in their younger days.

In all the places “The Robin” failed, this episode succeeds. First of all, Barney never seems to fall out of character like he did when dating Patrice. Nothing in this episode feels like something Barney wouldn’t do, and because of that the entire thing works. It really is a stunningly romantic gesture, in the way only something so over-the-top can be. I still don’t know if Barney’s romantic side can rival Ted’s, but it sure is a lot closer than it was an episode ago.