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How I Met Your Mother – Season 8 Episode 8 – Recap and Review – Twelve Horny Women

Recap and review of How I Met Your Mother – Season 8 Episode 8 – Twelve Horny Women

How I Met Your Mother seems to be having a bit of trouble making its way to the midseason finale in a few weeks, as it has a lot of time to fill but not enough story to really pad it all out. “Twelve Horny Women” is the kind of episode that happens when the series adopts a more liesurely approach to storytelling, irrespective of whatever exigencies exist in the story, such as the need to check in with Ted (Josh Radnor) and his status after the breakup with Victoria (Ashley Williams), or getting Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) and Robin (Cobie Smulders) together and to the church for their inevitable wedding. “Twelve Horny Women”, much like last week’s episode, doesn’t seem to be in any particular rush to address any of these issues, until the last few minutes tack on a brief helping of story advancement. This approach doesn’t really work for the show at a storytelling level, and in terms of comedy, the B-plot is basically a non-starter. The episode isn’t a disaster, but it doesn’t feel like it has a plausible reason to exist.

Credit: CBS

The A-plot of the episode is a frame narrative following Marshall (Jason Segel), who tells the story of his case against Gruber Pharmaceuticals to a judiciary committee headed by Saved By the Bell‘s Dennis Haskins. The case is a continuation of the previous episode’s arc with Marshall’s former law school buddy Brad (Joe Manganiello), a lawyer in Gruber Pharmaceuticals’s pocket, who used Marshall to infiltrate the firm and collect intel on their strategy for the big case. Now Marshall has been given an ultimatum: win the case or he’s fired. This is a solid starting point for Marshall, as the story has real stakes, in that Marshall could potentially lose the job that’s been his dream career for much of the show’s run. We haven’t seen much of Marshall’s work as an environmental lawyer as of late, except for the business last season with Martin Short (I kind of wish his character would come back. I liked the absurd energy Short added to the show). The story is also responsible for most of what works in the episode, from a comedic standpoint. Joe Manganiello is considerably talented as a comedic actor, and “Twelve Horny Women” suits him well, allowing him to play on his sex icon status for laughs. Brad flirts with the all-female jury to help him in the case, which includes a video directed, edited by, and starring Brad. The video, a series of increasingly ridiculous music video images of Brad carousing in the polluted Frog Lake, in an attempt to prove that it isn’t contminated, is the comedic highlight of the episode.

Credit: CBS

The story also proves somewhat poignant, as Marshall imagines this case as something he’ll tell Marvin about in the future as a point of inspiration. The flashforward changes as Marshall gets deeper into the story, and the narrative alternates from one of despondency (when it seems clear that Marshall will lose the case) to one of hope (when Marshall wins the case by having Brad remove his shirt, revealing a rash that proves Frog Lake is polluted). There are also hints of determination, when Marshall decides to set his sights on becoming a judge, after the presiding judge in the Gruber Pharmaceuticals case awards the plaintiff only pennies on the dollar. Marshall feels that the only way to affect change is as a judge. Because Marshall is a character that’s so easy to root for, the decision is an easy one for viewers to get behind, even if the resolution, in which Brad and Marshall bury the hatchet strains credulity, given how hard Brad was coming at Marshall in court. But the story is still the strong point of the episode.

Credit: CBS

This is a good thing, since the rest of the episode is iffy, at best. The other members of the gang spend the episode debating which among them was the biggest badass in high school, and though there are a couple of laughs, they mostly come at the expense of crafting an engaging story. Lily (Alyson Hannigan) relates how she corrupted a straitlaced Scooter (her ex-boyfriend of old), while Ted and Barney claim to have had run-ins with “Johnny Law”, and Robin tries to sell that she was a wild, partying teen pop star. Most of these details are revealed to be lies, as Ted’s run-in with the law basically amounted to putting his head in the stocks for a photo at the Renaissance Faire, while Barney was the mascot for his school’s magic club, and Robin actually received a trophy from the hotel she allegedly trashed, honoring her as the hotel’s best behaved guest. Lily, however, actually was a badass, as we learn in the episode tag, as she scares off a group of neighborhood children. Ted’s fuddy-duddy nature is perhaps the funniest part of the episode, as the veracity of the “Teddy Westside” persona is never at risk of being taken as gospel. Ted works best as a lovable old man in a younger body, which is why it’s all the more fitting that Future Ted is voiced by Bob Sagat, given that Ted is basically Danny Tanner.

Credit: CBS

“Twelve Horny Women” isn’t necessarily a terrible episode or anything, and there are some laughs to be had. But it feels inconsequential, at least until the last few minutes, when Barney confesses to Robin that he’s done trying to win her over, and that he’s going to go back to being the best friend he can be. As he goes to order drinks for the two of them, Robin adopts a look of contemplation before muttering a matter-of-fact “Huh”, as if she’s just realized how much she wanted Barney to keep pursuing her. It’s long past time that the tables turned, and it should be interesting to see how Robin negotiates her mixed feelings about Barney. “Twelve Horny Women” doesn’t seem to have much going on, but if it gets us closer to a significant shift in the group dynamic, I’d have to consider it a success. But only by the barest of margins, because there’s a lot of filler this week. Perhaps the show will trim the fat, the closer we get to the midseason finale.

TV CBSHow I Met Your MotherNeil Patrick Harris

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