“How I Met Your Mother” – Twelve Horny Women episode review 1

In “Twelve Horny Women,” Brad uses his good looks and charm to woo the jury

★★★☆☆

“Twelve Horny Women” picked up where the previous episode left off, which found Marshall facing a make-or-break trial that could cost him his job if he loses it. His opponent is his former lawyer bro Brad, who is representing the defense, Gruber Pharmaceuticals. In last week’s “The Stamp Tramp,” Brad betrayed Marshall’s friendship by tricking him and stealing his firm’s plans for the trial. While Marshall struggles to win his case, the rest of the gang argues about who was more of a badass when they were teenagers and Barney and Robin try to make things less awkward after their drunken embrace.

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The episode opens with Marshall sitting before a panel of judges “a little ways down the road.”  He tries to lighten the mood with some law-colored humor before launching into his story about the trial against Brad and Gruber Pharmaceuticals. This scenario was set up like a firing squad, implying that Marshall had to explain some sort of disaster that occurred during the trial, so it was a fun twist at the end when instead it is revealed that Marshall is applying to become a judge. Besides the enjoyable slight of hand, the idea of Marshall striving to be more than an environmental lawyer is an interesting character development and a great way to up the ante now that he has reached his previous career goal.

When the group meets up at MacLaren’s, Ted explains that he’s called in sick for them all so that they can be there to support Marshall during the trial. During breaks from the proceedings, they try to top one another’s stories about how badass they were as teenagers. Barney appears to know the bailiff rather well, Lily recalls lots of underage drinking and beating people up, Ted talks about getting his mug shot taken, and Robin claims that there was a much darker side to her alter ego Robin Sparkles. By the end of the episode, it’s revealed that all of their stories were greatly exaggerated accept for Lily’s, who still has people running from her as she walks down the street.

The mini-competition between these four was an amusing distraction from Marshall’s trial but rather predictable.  Jokes and punch lines tend to be a lot less funny when you know they’re coming, and such was the case here. It was clear that each of their tales were setting up a much more ordinary truth, and for some reason Lily (hilariously) always turns out to be the real tough one. The highlight to these flashbacks was Lily bossing other kids around, especially when she elbowed Scooter and told him to, “Laugh, bitch!” while being questioned by a cop.  The funny stories weren’t that strong comically, which was okay since Marshall’s storyline was the main focus and more intriguing.

The dopey and bro-tastic Brad turns out to be a far more formidable foe in court, relying on his handsome looks and chiseled body to woo a jury of all women (and a seemingly gay judge to boot). He sexualizes his entire defense by showing off his butt, making pollution sound sexy, and playing a video for the jurors that shows him scantily clad and enjoying a sunny day at the tainted pond in question. Marshall almost loses hope but triumphs in the end, using Brad’s strategy against him by making him reveal his rash-covered chest after he swam in the polluted pond.  When the verdict comes in, the jury rules in Marshall’s favor but only penalizes the defense $25,000 in damages rather than the $25 million that his firm was hoping for. We’ll have to tune in next week to find out what repercussions this shortcoming has for Marshall’s employment at the firm.

It’s a mark of a good television show when the main characters don’t always get exactly what they want, and an even better quality to find in a sitcom.  Over the seasons, “How I Met Your Mother” has proved that it is much more than an ordinary half hour comedy, tackling topics as serious as abandonment and death. So credit is due to the “HIMYM” writers for creating a little drama here and giving Marshall only half of the pie when the verdict came in. By creating some kind of stakes for the characters on the show and setting up the possibility of failure, an audience is more likely to identify with and therefore become more attached to them. This connection is what sets “How I Met Your Mother” apart from throwaway comedies like “Two and a Half Men.”

In “Twelve Horny Women,” the Barney/Robin complex was briefly addressed as well.  After their awkward embrace last episode, the future Mr. and Mrs. Stinson try to act like it never happened. Every time they hang out with the others at MacLaren’s, they have a weird, unnatural exchange of pleasantries that’s more suited for two people who are meeting for the first time. Eventually, Barney puts an end to it by tackling the issue head on, apologizing to Robin for making a drunken move on her and insisting that he’s done “trying to get her.”  They agree to go back to the way things were (Barney being a perv and Robin complaining about co-worker Patrice), but as Barney leaves Robin to get drinks, she thinks to herself for a moment before simply saying, “Huh…”.  Clearly Robin is having mixed feelings about the recent rekindled romance with Barney and isn’t ready to brush if off as easily as he just tried to. Let’s hope they both realize how strong their feelings are and get back together by the midseason break, because it could be really painful if the writers stretch this one out for another season or two.

Like most of the episodes so far this season, “Twelve Horny Women” was average. It wasn’t nearly as funny as the season’s strongest episode yet (The Pre-Nup), but Marshall’s story was intriguing and the introduction of his new career goal to become a judge was an interesting addition. The side stories about each character being a badass as a teenager were mildly amusing, and Robin and Barney’s relationship struggles were only briefly addressed. Overall, “How I Met Your Mother” is still one of the best comedies on television right now, but lately it seems to have evened off into a steady rhythm of mediocrity. Maybe things will get back on track as the midseason mark approaches.