“Face, huh? That’s your weirdest nickname for boobs yet.” -Ted
Oh shit, did they just combine two of my favorite shows? In this episode, How I Met Your Mother meets The Amazing Race, as each of the gang competes in a race from the bar to a steakhouse in an attempt to prove who knows how to get around NYC the best.
Like The Amazing Race, I think what I loved about this episode is that it was a really fantastic combination of simplicity and complexity. The concept behind the episode was very simple (first one to the finish line gets the prize!), yet the execution was ambitious in scale and actually managed to pull it off quite well. The episode takes us through the subways, on a bus, and down the streets of New York, all while keeping an exciting pace and summing up the action with a giant map with the characters’ faces on their location. At the same time, the writers manage to elevate the episode past a simple slapstick episode about mad dashing by peeling back a layer on the characters a bit. It’s revealed that the sudden need for competition between the friends actually stems from frustrations they were feeling with their day-to-day lives: Ted receiving a single poor review on his GradeMyTeacher.com page, Robin being jealous of her new co-host, and Lily and Marshall having difficulty conceiving their child. Of course, they all manage to confront their own insecurities by the end of the episode, but the journey to self-discovery is thrilling, inventive, and hilarious. There’s only so much you can do with a 23-minute episode of primetime television, and yet, they really managed to fill this one to the limit by packing in an action-packed storyline, a decent amount of character development, and some heart-warming moments. In the end, Robin wins the race and Lily and Marshall come to terms with the fact that getting pregnant may take some time and that they should enjoy their final moments of non-parenthood while they still can.
Barney’s always been the selfish and self-centered one of the group (at least, more so than the others), and in watching the series, it’s not hard to wonder why the rest of the group puts up with him (even in this episode, Lily jokes about trying to ditch Barney by all moving away). Even though Barney’s at his most hilarious when he’s being his most self-centered, it’s nice to be reminded every now and then that deep down, he truly is friends with the rest of the group. Moments away from crossing the finish line, Barney recognizes Robin’s need for a win that day and lets her win by tackling Ted right at the end of the race, allowing her to truly feel like a New Yorker. Barney is the closest that the show gets to a one-dimensional character, and because it’s a bit rarer than with the rest of the group, it’s especially fun to see the moments when Barney shows a bit of humanity and courtesy for others.