When I first saw the promos for “Splitsville” and learned we would be having our third break up episode of the season – and second in a row – I was initially wary of what to expect. Last week’s disappointing end to Ted and Victoria’s relationship didn’t bode well for Robin and Nick. In fact, I would say the odds were even more against this couple. We’ve barely seen them together and we know next to nothing about Nick. Last week was our first real glimpse at this rather dumb, yet endearing character. But his screen time was still pretty minimal, which worked for the kinds of jokes he was used for. Could he handle being on screen for a longer period of time?
The answer is a big yes. In fact, the whole episode is a huge win for How I Met Your Mother. Everything worked; the story flowed, the actors were on the ball, the jokes landed, and the laughs were big. It had everything you could ask for in a HIMYM episode. The only thing I could possibly think to complain about is how Nick’s character should have been this entertaining from the moment he appeared on screen. His low level intelligence is comedy gold. The dumb but hot boyfriend is a fairly typical sitcom trope, but it’s a winner. To hear him confuse gypsies with mythological creatures and say things like “It feels like I’ve got a pulled groin muscle… in my heart” is so rewarding.
And using the break up storyline in such a simple way – indeed, that’s really all there is to the episode outside of Marshall’s basketball woes – was surprisingly successful. With the sheer amount of break ups HIMYM has been through, I was certain there was no way they could make this one feel any more special than the ones that came before, but darn it they did it. Placing it in a desert restaurant and having the rest of the gang listening over speaker phone, all having their own opinions on what Robin should do, was just too much fun to watch unfold. I would’ve said Marshall’s intensity over his basketball team’s prospects with Nick on the team was the show stealer, but Lily’s obsession over Robin’s sex life – and vivid sexual descriptions – topped it every time, thanks in part to everyone’s confused, almost horrified reactions.
“Spitsville” proved there is still plenty of life left in HIMYM, and especially in the relationship just brimming beneath the surface of Robin and Barney. Barney’s interruption of Nick and Robin at the restaurant to tell her he loves her was phenomenally well scripted and Neil Patrick Harris sold it. When Robin later says that the speech was very convincing, she’s completely right. It was convincing and had me totally ready for reigniting their romance. It won’t necessarily happen right away – Barney plays his declaration of love as an act to help get rid of poor Nick – but the way is pretty clear right now. Both Barney and Robin are single and their almost-kiss pretty much guarantees they both feel something between them. But we’re only eight episodes in and HIMYM likes to play games. Who knows what could happen before their wedding.