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Episode: The Pre-Nup (Season 8, Episode 2)
Synopsis: The summer of 2012 was the summer of love. Everyone on How I Met Your Mother was paired up and happy, so we moved ahead to the fall where the “autumn of breakups” began. As Quin (Becki Newton) and Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) prepare for their wedding, they also prepare for their marriage as Barney draws up a prenuptial agreement. While everyone else in the group is insulted at the kinds of terms in Barney’s pre-nup, they start to consider the things they would change about their current relationships. Ted (Josh Radnor) and Victoria (Ashley Williams) are stressed about the way Ted invited Victoria’s ex-fiance Klaus (Thomas Lennon) to live with them. Robin’s (Cobie Smulders) new boyfriend Nick (Michael Trucco) feels awkward about the way Robin watches TV during sex. And Marshall (Jason Segel) thinks that Lily (Alyson Hannigan) is too precious with their baby.
After Quin draws up her own pre-nup with the help of the other girls, Ted and Victoria work out their differences by coming to an agreement about their living arrangement. It turns out that Robin is turned on by watching herself on TV during sex (she even winks at herself) and Nick is cool with that. And Marshall and Lily agree that their insecurities about being parents is unfounded. But Quin and Barney realize that they don’t trust each other so they call off the engagement and break up. While Barney thinks that he’ll never trust someone enough to get married, we flash forward to Robin meeting Barney at his office for lunch while he talks about his legendary upcoming wedding, where he won’t be getting a pre-nup.
While not as emotional as the previous episode, it was funnier from the start. You wouldn’t think that “Lily like-a like-a the honka honka” would be a funny line, but in the proper context, it’s actually hilarious. Barney’s boss (Bob Odenkirk) has a great bit about his ex-wife, Robin winking at herself on TV is pretty funny and, although Lily and Marshall and Ted and Victoria’s storylines aren’t as funny as they could have been, they still produced plenty of funny moments. And it ended with a very sweet moment, with a little laugh in the final moment.
Not all grades are created equal. As I said before, the emotions weren’t as strong, but it was a funnier episode than last week’s season premiere. There were laughs throughout and I really enjoyed the framing of the story. It’s a common theme. Anyone in any relationship has something that they’d like to change about the other person. No couple is perfect. And planting that one of the couples would break up by the end of the episode also added a layer of mystery and guessing for the audience. It had to be Ted and Victoria or Robin and Nick. Klaus planted in Ted’s brain that Victoria wasn’t the one in the season premiere. And Robin goes through guys like tissue paper. We just met Nick. But it turns out to be Barney and Quin that split up.
After multiple viewings, it’s impressive the way the laughs hold up and how well they’re spread out throughout the episode. It’s tough to pull off because usually one or two storylines don’t bring anything to the table, but “The Pre-Nup” accomplishes that. The X-factor was definitely Odenkirk, too. As a GNB exec, he’s hit or miss, but he brought some funny moments to this episode.
Now we’ll see who goes from here. Obviously Marshall and Lily are safe in the “autumn of breakups,” but Robin and Nick and Ted and Victoria are now on the block. It’s really tough to achieve excellence in an episode where two characters break up, but sometimes you can hit a home run like the season one finale “Come On.” Two B+’s to start the season is certainly an impressive start to what could be the final season. How I Met Your Mother is at least raising the bar. Tough to do in an 8th season, but that’s why we love the show so much.