Episode 1 - Where Were We
23 February 2012
Synopsis: Marshall tries to deal with Lily's absence while Robin and Ted enjoy being together. Barney suffers through both. Marshall has a really hard time moving on and when he finds Lily's credit card bill he becomes more paranoid about what she is up to. Soon he discovers that she has returned to New York and heads to her hotel to confront her.
The Good: This was a strong start to season two with a very thorough exploration of Marshall's side of the breakup. You really felt like you were seeing everything that he went through. After nine years of being in a relationship it was never going to be hard to believe that his confidence was shattered. We also got a real sense of time passing with the 'Day Count' and the little montages of Robin, Barney and Ted trying various tactics to cheer Marshall up.
The characterisation was particularly good with Ted looking after his best friend with love, Barney turning to strippers and Robin offering him the chance to shoot a gun. All that build up of tension between housemates was entirely believable and the moment when Ted finally snapped was excellent. Ted seemed entirely justified in calling Marshall pathetic and looking out for his interests by using tough love. Almost as good was the conversation that Robin and Ted had in the car afterwards where Ted admitted that he had been too hard on him. I loved the way the conversation lurched toward their disagreement over gun control before returning to Marshall. That really felt like a normal couple talking.
The comedy was decent too with Marshall waxing lyrical about Lily's shampoo before Robin points out that it is hers. And Marshall admitting that he called four other Lily Aldrin's in the San Francisco area before realising that her number had changed (see Comic Highlight).
The conclusion to the story was excellent too with Marshall still unable to move on even after two and a half months. The show has put in its due diligence with his character and now reached a point where he can begin to take part in normal stories again. Lily's return at the end makes it clear that more drama is on its way.
The Bad: After such a complete story it was almost a shame that Lily reappears at the end. Having seen Marshall struggle to move on I felt a genuine desire to see him be 'single Marshall' before he inevitably gets back together with her. The other false moment was Marshall throwing his hot dog at a newly engaged couple at the baseball game. Marshall is a nice gentle guy, he wouldn't do that.
Although I pointed out in Season One that the show had gradually become less funny I think the real change starts here. The George Clinton scene was pure silliness. If Marshall had had a shred of evidence to support his paranoia then a fantasy scene where Lily was dating Clinton could have been funny. But there was no evidence and instead the scene was just a stupid excuse to give Clinton a part on the show. From now on this attempt to force comedy into the show will grow steadily. But comedy with no reality isn't funny.
Comic Highlight: Nothing stood out as laugh out loud funny. However Marshall's slow predictable decline was well presented. Ted wrestles the phone out of his hand on more than one occasion and thinks he has stopped him. Yet just as you can imagine might happen in real life, Marshall calls her anyway. The fact that he then walks in on Robin and Ted in the shower and admits to calling all the Lily's in San Francisco was a nice touch.
How I rate your episode: I thought this was an excellent start to season two. The Marshall-Lily breakup was a big deal but obviously we know that they will get back together because of Future Ted's narration. So the writing needed to get Marshall back on his feet while acknowledging the trauma he had been through. I think they did a fine job and Robin and Ted as a couple got off to a solid start too.
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