For all of you out there who watch How I Met Your Mother, you will know that one of their familiar story techniques is the rapid fire, flashback and flashforward combination that fragments the storytelling. In HIMYM's earlier seasons they used this technique to create episodes that were very funny and had good character development (well for a traditional sitcom at least), and I was happy to see them use this style again in "False Positive". Season 6 has been mainly about advancing the characters to bigger life-stages, which at times has felt forced, although it is necessary since the show began to stagnate. However, "False Positive" did an excellent job taking the characters away from their journeys and to let them have a little fun for a bit.
The premise of the episode was that Marshall & Lily take a home pregnancy test that turns up positive, which causes Robin and Barney to start to reevaluate what they are doing with their lives. The episode goes back to this reveal several times to see how each major character reacts to this big reveal, and from there we see how everyone took the news. Robin decides that she needs to finally make a decision on her career move, and narrows it down to either taking a research job at a major news channel or being the new "coin flip bimbo" on the popular show Million Dollar Heads or Tails, hosted by Canada's own Alex Trebek. Barney takes the news as a sign that he should start to give away some of the money he has made to charity instead of buying a suit with diamond pinstripes. He does this first by doing his best Oprah imitation and giving away his favorite things to everyone at MacLarens , and second by donating to his brother's father's church.
However, what makes this episode more than just a very generic maturation story is the fact that early in the episode we find out that Marshall & Lily's positive test was incorrect. This leads to the funniest part of the episode where all of the earlier portrayals of them as a happy and excited couple were really them hiding how freaked out they were. They even attempt to do all the pre-birth activities in one night (baby-proofing the apartment, painting the nursery, playing Mozart for the soon to be child), although none of them go particularly well. This plotline was where I think the episode shined because it showed that Marshall & Lily were human after all. All season they have been pushing how much they both want a baby and it hasn't seemed realistic. I understand people can be excited for childbirth, but Marshall & Lily hadn't showed any of the natural jitters people experience when they decide to bring another life into this world. Outside of how funny their storyline was, this episode made me respect their characters again.
Now obviously the news of this false pregnancy makes both Robin and Barney rethink their righteous decisions and naturally they retreat back to what makes them happier in the short term. This is a very natural thing that everyone experiences and I liked how the episode addresses how major advancements in others' lives push us to make decisions we are not quite comfortable with. I can totally see Barney in a diamond suit, Robin flipping coins on TV while looking hot, and Marshall & Lily pushing off their baby fever for a while longer; however, for the sake of the show life must go on and it takes a not so subtle push from Ted to get them back on track. Ted can often be the most annoying character on the show, and most of the time it is him who needs to be pushed to do anything, yet his outburst to the rest of the group to grow up was well done. After all, Ted is the one they all confide in, and it is natural for him to want the best out of all of them. It's always fun to do what makes us happy in the moment, and it certainly is more fun to watch HIMYM when all five major characters are doing inane funny things, but the show one ups that by actually making us root for them to finish their journey. Sometimes the journey is only deciding to help the needy instead of buying the gaudiest suit of all time, but what the hell it's a step.
- I would watch the shit out of Million Dollar Heads and Tails. I swear nothing is better then watching people go for lots of money on what is essentially luck, AKA Deal or No Deal. However, like Deal or No Deal one season would be enough.
- It's tough to describe how the flashbacks affect the episode without being overly wordy, but watch the episode and you will see exactly how they played with different situations and lines multiple times.
- I give grades on these episodes mainly just because it is a really easy way to wrap-up the post. I would hope that the words before would give you an idea on how I feel the episode went, and the quality of an A differs greatly from show to show. The idea of them is to illicit discussion on the episode in the comment section, but I'm starting to see that not a lot of you readers watch the same shows as I. That being said, I love catching-up on TV so let me know in the comments a show you would like me to cover and I'll see if I can fit it into my schedule.