During this episode, we don’t know if the comedy got in the way of the serious grief plot or if the grieving got in the way of the comedy. We didn’t really know whether to laugh or to be serious. It was probably the best this show could have done with a serious plotline, we guess. In the end, seriousness and schmaltz won out, for us anyway. We were looking forward to this episode a lot to see how the show would take Marshall’s dad dying and advance the plot with it. Turns out, we could have predicted it if we really thought hard. First of all, they have cast John Lithgow to play Barney’s dad (congrats Barney, your dad is super creepy, yet awesome). Yes, Barney is finally ready to meet his father. Lots of daddy stuff in this episode and also some cheesy moments. Oh LOST, we’ve missed you….wait.
The episode took place in Minnesota, where all of Marshall’s friends had flown for the funeral. Lily tried to help Marshall’s mom, but Marshall’s mom still hated her. Fortunately, yelling at Lily released a lot of the mom’s tension, and she was able to eat and sleep. Marshall’s mom thanked Lily, in the end, realizing that Lily was purposefully giving her just what she needed. Robin brought a bag of vices, just in case Marshall needed an escape - a purse with drinks, pills, firecrackers, bad movies, (nude) playing cards and more. She and Ted likened Robin to Mary Poppins - another fun bag lady with drugs in her purse (Robin’s explanation for the fun fantasy trip in the movie). All Marshall needed from the bag was a phone charger…and later, Crocodile Dundee III.
Ted and Barney tried to make Marshall laugh by finding internet videos of people getting hit in the nuts on their smartphones. That would have worked on one blogger’s sister, but it didn’t work on Marshall. Then Barney kicked Ted in the nuts (“Live theatre is always better!”), but Marshall completely ignored that. A funeral is not the time, boys. However, if they had played “nut ball,” perhaps it would have worked. Nut ball is when two guys sit far apart with their legs spread and pass a ball back-and-forth. Preferably a small, hard ball. Each of the guys tries to hit the other square on the nuts with each throw, and neither guy is allowed to block it. This blogger has seen this played, and it is a pretty good laugh.
The reverend had to leave and left his son to do the service. Marshall was upset, because this son bullied him in school, even though he is about half Marshall’s height. The reverend left a note that the family should reflect on the father’s last words to them. Marshall’s brothers and mother had wonderful final memories of the family patriarch, but Marshall remembers his father saying things like, “Plane food is ass” and making racist comments. As he struggles to remember everything his father said on their last day together, he finally remembers that his dad told him, “Rent Crocodile Dundee III. It still holds up.” Marshall accepts this as good last words from his father. Not great and not as touching as the last words his brothers and mother got, but acceptable. Barney decided that last words were overrated and most famous ones were probably made up. He thought Nathan Hale (historical figure) must have actually talked about peeing himself in fear of death. A flash to Barney’s imagination showed Nathan Hale (Barney dressed up as Nathan Hale) saying these words. Neil Patrick Harris sure does a good impression of Bill Compton on True Blood.
Once Marshall’s phone was charged, he saw that he had a voicemail from his father. He didn’t want to listen, because the real last words might be worse than the ones about the movie. But during the funeral, where his mother and brothers shared their perfect last conversations, Marshall went outside to listen. Sadly, the phone call was a mere pocket-dial, and all Marshall could hear was the fuzz of a phone rustling around in his dad’s pocket. He put the pocket-dial on to show his friends while he starts raving at God, questioning why his father had to die and leave just this message. Finally, his dad’s voice came onto the message, startling everyone. His father noted that he had pocket-dialed his son. Then his dad said that he and Marshall’s mother had a great time visiting Marshall and that he loved Marshall. Marshall reflected in awe, “My father’s last words for me were ‘I love you.’” (Leeard cried). Then his dad ruined it by talking about foot fungus. Marshall ignored that as well as he had ignored Ted getting hit in the nuts. He went back inside to talk at the funeral, but he didn’t share his father’s real last words with the crowd, preferring to keep them between himself and his closest friends.
After the funeral, Marshall left his friends in a room and said, “If I never come back, my last words to you guys are that I really really love you guys. And now I’m going to take a deuce.” Ted, Robin, and Lily each called their fathers to have a good conversation….just in case. And Barney called his mother to ask to meet his dad.
Mildly sweet, midly amusing, a nice balance and handling of the topic, but ultimately, not totally memorable unless you feel like you need to call your dad.
Episode grade: B-
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