How I Met Your Mother Recap: “The Pre-Nup”–Autumn of Breakups

“You know, it’s big comedy, but you also really care about these characters.”

German situational comedies and How I Met Your Mother have that in common. For a show that paints in pretty broad strokes (2,000 page pre-nup! Naked German man!), the heart of the story has always been its detail—the little traits that rip characters apart or pull them together. Thomas and Bays are so certain that this is what matters, so certain that we’re in this for the people, that they don’t lean on the element of surprise. They tell us what’s next and trust that we’ll still care enough to watch it happen. We know a breakup is coming, but it hurts anyway.

We just don’t know who’s breaking up first. Will it be Barney and Quinn? Robin and Nick? Ted and Victoria? Marshall and Lily? Ok, it won’t be Marshall and Lily. Thank you, show, for not even trying to convince us that these two might split. They won’t. They’re Marshmallow and Lilypad. End of story.

Everyone argues at some point, though, and tonight, everyone argues. It all starts with Barney’s coworker, Arthur, who takes out his post-divorce rage on the man who just got engaged. How kind. Convinced that he needs a pre-nup, Barney channels his commitment phobia into a set of guidelines so absurd, detailed, and encyclopedic (-paedic?) that even a Kardashian would scoff. Among the demands:

  • Every five years or 50,000 honka-honkas, Quinn gets a breast enlargement.
  • Quinn’s parents may stay with them as long as they like, provided they each arrive in an urn.

Do you think Barney’s gone just “a unicorn whisper too far”?

Ultimatums in mind, the men are inspired to re-negotiate the terms of their own relationships. Suddenly, everyone has a complaint. Ted, who loves being a hero, let the down-and-out Klaus room with him and Victoria, but now Klaus is getting on his nerves. Victoria, meanwhile, is upset that Ted ordered Klaus to leave without asking her. Nick is upset that Robin can’t focus on him while they’re in bed together. Lily doesn’t trust Marshall to play with the baby. Marshall wants to go on a Sasquatch hunt. You know, the usual.

The men and women hit McLaren’s separately to gossip (men of HIMYM, I call it like I see it). Scenes like these make me glad to have outside characters in the group. Quinn and Victoria double the amount of women on this show, and Quinn in particular feels like part of the gang. What did she do to earn this kind of acceptance from Lily and Robin? They’re a difficult twosome to break. Stella never got this kind of welcome. And how did they respond to Victoria’s runaway bride act? These are just some of the questions I have about our lost summer. (Third question: Nick. Tell me everything.) In any case, the women are a happy family now, meaning Quinn has people to help her scheme. She turns the tables on Barney with her own ridiculous pre-nup. Among the demands:

  • Quinn gets full custody of Barney’s suits, which will then sit around going out of style.
  • Barney can go to the Playboy mansion whenever he wants—provided he arrives in an urn.

Their confrontation ends with every couple locked in disagreement, which Arthur, of all people, helps to end. Marshall and Lily agree to share baby responsibilities more evenly (what about the Sasquatch hunt?!), Ted and Victoria clarify that Klaus is no threat to their relationship, and Robin admits that she just gets turned on watching herself on the news. Nick is totally cool with that. Can he get an actual storyline, please? All signs indicate that he’s awesome.

Only Barney and Quinn aren’t mended, realizing that their lengthy pre-nups are really a front for deep trust issues. Barney is a former womanizer who objectified Quinn; Quinn is a former stripper who once duped Barney out of thousands of dollars. Neither one knows how to get past that. In a painfully silent office, they stare at the pile of paperwork and sink to their seats. The autumn of breakups has begun.

They’re not playing around this season, are they? Heartbreak right out of the gate. I thought Barney and Quinn would be the last to fall, but here they are. It will be interesting to see Barney recover from this. Being engaged was a huge step for him; now that it’s fallen through, Barney is convinced that he’ll never trust someone enough to get married. We know he will, though, and the wedding be legen—wait for it—dary. How will he and Robin change? And what will happen to Nick?! When Barney and Robin get together, maybe Nick will just stick around. Ted did.

HIMYMoments:

“Snap, crackle, pop!”

Lily only curses when the baby is napping.

“Wait, so when you’re doing the news live at 7, you wink to future you watching the rebroadcast at 11?”

German sitcom: “One of them is very neat, and the other one is very very neat!”

Arthur, on the phone with his dog: “Hey buddy! Hey it’s the man!”

“Oh I’m sorry. I didn’t realize it takes 42 inches to keep you satisfied.”

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