by Grace Crawford

Images courtesy of Bay & Thomas Productions and 20th Century Fox.

Images courtesy of Bay & Thomas Productions and 20th Century Fox.

9×14: “Slapsgiving 3: Slappointment in Slapmarra”

I can’t remember how many times I’ve watched the gang sit around at McLaren’s while Barney tells some totally-made-up-but-he-still-says-it’s-a-true story. It’s got to be at least a thousand. He tries to pass off some supposedly legendary exploit as fact, and none of the rest of the gang is buying it, and no one backs him up. So we just assume it’s not true. And that’s happened at least a million times. What do you mean, a thousand? I’m pretty sure I said “a million.”

So it’s nice to see Barney getting a taste of his own medicine when Marshall tells the story of how he mastered the Slap of a Thousand Exploding Suns (SoaTES), spending a year in China to learn speed, strength, and accuracy from a trio of masters who look suspiciously like Robin, Lily, and Ted, if they were Asian stereotypes. And it’s hilarious seeing the group backing him up with things like, “Yes, Marshall spent a year in Shanghai,” and “Yes, I’ve heard of that magical forest; I backpacked there in college.”

But apart from that, this episode is seriously lacking in anything even remotely resembling humour.

I’m going to head this off now: it sounds super critical to say anything bad about this movie without it coming across as racist, because I legitimately don’t understand anything about anything to do with Chinese culture. After my Big Trouble in Little China review, I think it made it pretty clear that I don’t super understand those movies with kung-fu masters and pretty much anything with a thousand suns.

What follows is how Marshall tells it. Determined to give Barney the most painful slap of all time, he seeks out a kung-fu master who can teach him to slap Barney right in his stupid face. Inexplicably, there’s a little kid who knows of three Chinese masters, each of whom will teach one of the facets of the SoaTES. He sends Marshall to China, where he meets Red Bird, who teaches him speed and, irrelevantly, how to paint in the ancient Chinese way by slapping paintballs. There’s also a Slapping Tree. I don’t even know why.

Once he succeeds in slapping Red Bird in the face (apparently the greatest test is slapping a woman right in her face), Marshall seeks out White Flower at the top of Slap Mountain. There’s an instant connection between them, because of course there is, and they make love next to the Slapping Tree. She also teaches him strength, saying he can collect the power of those who hate Barney by getting slapped in the face by them. This power then collects in his hand, and he has the strength he needs to break Barney’s face just everywhere.

This is not the face of a man who makes good decisions.

This is not the face of a man who makes good decisions where people’s faces are concerned.

Marshall finally tracks down The Calligrapher, who lives in Cleveland, which is… there was some joke about a slap in the face (I get it, LeBron James hurt a lot of fans when he left, but seriously, Cleveland, pick yourself up and find a nice young athlete who’ll make you feel better about yourself, or at the very least get some cats). Anyway, Ted/The Calligrapher is just as sad and desperate as his normal self, and Marshall offers to set him up with his fat cousin, which gets Ted on board right away.

Alas, Ted chokes on a noodle, and Marshall tries to give him the Heimlich but ends up slapping the heart right out of his chest cavity. And then it takes Ted like ten minutes to die, so he tells Marshall, “Just be super accurate. Like, aim, and then hit the spot you’re aiming for, not some other spot.” And now Marshall is the master of the SoaTES, so he comes back to New York to slap Barney right in his face.

And there’s some slow motion and then it turns out Marshall was totally having one on Barney the whole time. Which, I mean, we knew. There wasn’t some big dramatic payoff here, or any kind of real-life connection to what was happening. Basically, Marshall made up some story to psych out Barney before he slapped him, and it ended up just being a regular old slap. Which was pretty disappointing. Now there’s only one left, and it feels like the fourth slap–not to mention this whole episode–was just a giant gag with no story significance whatsoever. I feel like my time was wasted on this episode, and that’s  twenty minutes of my life I’m not going to get back. So I guess I just have to hope next week’s is better, or we’re going to end up nixing two GR Dailies shows in a row.

Final Grade: D+

Items of Note

  • “Which mountain?” “No, not Witch Mountain. Slap Mountain.” …really?
  • It’s nice to see Barney’s bimbos again, but man, Nora’s just bitter now. Like, it’s been a little while, and she seemed well-adjusted. I thought she’d put his douchebaggery behind her at some point. (No jokes about Barney getting behind her.)
  • If I ever have a large amount of money (although let’s be realistic, I probably won’t), I’ll now refer to it as “much gold.”
  • I love how Red Bird and White Flower are like eighty and a hundred, respectively, and still look slammin’. But I hate that Ted gets super offended that Marshall guessed one year older than he actually is. That joke’s overused and anyway it makes Ted look lame.
  • “This is for Barney Stinson? Yeah, sure, I’ll totally teach you.”
  • Boyz II Men? Is that even a thing? I think that’s a little too culturally obscure to apply to HIMYM’s audience, although I may just be saying that because I’m on the low end of the twenties and don’t remember them. Although I remember Stacy from Pitch Perfect singing “I’ll Make Love to You.” That is all.

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