The Wife:

Ahh, roommate fights. I certainly do not miss having those. I remember in college, I used to quietly seethe when my roommates did not follow the agreed upon chore wheel, which designated on a weekly basis which of us was in charge of keeping the bathroom tidy, the kitchen, emptying the house trash and dusting/vacuuming. When certain roommates spent too much time at their boyfriend’s homes and treated our home like shit, I wanted to slit their throats in the night. Now, my husband is not the neatest guy in the world, but he helps out around the house and I let him have a couple of packrat spaces where he can hoard all his junk and I don’t mind, as long as he vacuums, takes out the trash and cleans the litterboxes. Why don’t I mind the occasional junk pile? According to How I Met Your Mother, it’s probably because I’m sleeping with him.

You've drained my milk for the last time, Scherbatsky!

You've drained my milk for the last time, Scherbatsky!

Ted and Robin can’t seem to coexist as roommates unless they’re having sex with each other, so, to relieve Ted’s anal-retentive tension, they agree that, instead of fighting over empty milk cartons, they fuck. And the system works brilliantly, until Marshall catches them when he stops by their apartment to “read a magazine” in Ted’s bathroom. Robin thinks it’s ridiculous that Marshall can’t just take a shit at work, but Marshall explains that he reads trashy magazines on the toilet and every time someone sees him walking down the hall with a copy of Them! Magazine, it’s as though Speidi, Kendra Wilkinson and Kim Kardashian all call out from the cover to the other employees that Marshall Erickson is, in fact, about to take a shit. Ted sympathizes with Marshall’s plight, but Robin isn’t about to let Ted extend bathroom privileges to someone who doesn’t live with them. So, Marshall blackmails Ted and Robin. He will keep the secret that they are sleeping together if Marshall is allowed to “read a magazine” in their bathroom whenever he pleases.

Before I got married, I would have completely sympathized with Robin in this situation. I never understood the need for men, specifically, to read a magazine in the bathroom, but I suppose that’s because I never really thought about prostates much before. It makes a lot more sense to me now.

Entirely forgetting his wife’s inability to keep secrets, Marshall tells her about Ted and Robin and she blurts it out during drinks, forcing Marshall to officially hand over the key to Ted and Robin’s apartment. Learning that Ted and Robin have resumed their physical relationship drives Barney insane with jealously, forcing him to quickly turn his inner cries of “that’s awful” into “that’s awf-somes” and to destroy numerous televisions in the alley. Seeing how hurt Barney is by this new faux-relationship, Lily tries to encourage him to go to therapy because its helpful to her kindergarteners to share their feelings during share hour, but he refuses, instead choosing to pretend nothing is wrong and subjecting himself to a montage of Ted repeating Robin’s slovenly habits that cause them to have sex, followed by Barney destroying televisions in the alley. At one point, he finds that the dumpster has been cleared of televisions, so he goes to an electronics store, purchases a top-of-the-line set and immediately smashes it in the alley behind McClaren’s. Priceless. This goes on until one day, Ted accidentally gives Robin a kiss before heading out the door and realizes that he has doomed the fuck buddy relationship. They call it off, until they resume fighting and start the cycle all over again.

Marshall, meanwhile, found a shit sanctuary at work: the restroom on the abandoned 8th floor, a place where he can quietly “read a magazine” in peace. That is, until his inner sanctum is ruptured by the sledgehammer of a demolition crew, causing Marshall to scream in terror at being caught with his pants down, which was probably the most hilarious moment of the episode for me. This causes him to return to Ted’s apartment (how the hell did he get in? did he pick the lock? use Lily’s extra key?) where he, once again, catches Ted and Robin in the act.

Ted, I just cleaned there. Now I have to clean it all over again or else you'll have sex with Robin.

Ted, I just cleaned there. Now I have to clean it all over again or else you'll have sex with Robin.

Fed up with the idea that Robin is sleeping with someone else, Barney takes matters into his own hands by cleaning Ted’s apartment, even going so far as to permanently stock the fridge with milk (which I think will likely go bad before Ted and Robin can drink it all . . . unless one of them wants to start bathing in it). Barney tells Ted he’s just being a good friend (“Can’t a bro clean another bro’s apartment?”), but Ted is suspicious, asking Barney to cite precedent. Barney almost can’t think of a comeback, until he realizes that there are at least two bros who clean other bros apartments: Misters Clean and Belvedere. Suddenly, Ted realizes that Barney is hopelessly in love with Robin, an accusation that Barney immediately casts off.

The next time we see Barney, he’s sharing his feelings in a brown leather chair against a blue wall that is somehow perfectly coordinated to his suit and tie. In a wonderful bit of misdirection, the camera pulls back to reveal that he’s actually sharing with Lily’s kindergarten class and really creeping them out. Lily asks Barney to leave, despite his numerous protestations that he is “in the share chair” and that he is holding “Sharey the Share Bear, and whoever holds Sharey gets to share whatever they want.”

Later, Marshall strolls into Barney’s office with a newly confident stance, eagerly sharing the information that he was finally able to “read a magazine” at work, simply by deciding that he no longer cared if people judged him for needing to do something perfectly natural. As “That Guy Has a Wife?” remarks while Marshall strolls down the hall, “I know what you’re about to do and I respect you for it.” Barney is proud of Marshall, and Marshall’s confidence rubs of on him, inspiring him to race out and admit to Ted that he does, indeed, love Robin – but not before revealing to Marshall that Barney had a private bathroom in his office all along.

Ted rushes in to Barney’s apartment ready to proclaim his love but instead finds only Robin at home and is forced to change his mind at the last second, coming up with, “I’m in love with . . . tacos!” Robin tells Barney that Ted put an end to their relationship because he was afraid someone would get hurt. Fearing that Ted might have also mentioned Barney’s secret, he plays Robin for information. She tells Barney that it’s clear to her that Ted ended their run as “friends with benefits” because Ted was afraid that he himself would get hurt, unable to separate the emotions he once felt for Robin from the sex. She praises Barney for not being at all like that, and continuing their relationship as is since the time they hooked up over “Sandcastles in the Sand.” She also tells Barney that she’s never going to date another one of her friends again, fearing that it gets too complicated. The look on Barney’s face at that suggestion is possibly the most pitiful we’ve ever seen him look. It broke my heart a little bit. I want to see Barney achieve some sort of actual happiness, other than the endless parade of suits and cheap dates. I think the only thing that breaks my heart more than seeing Alyson Hannigan cry is seeing Neil Patrick Harris look hurt.

I’m a little disappointed by the lack of Alyson Hannigan in this episode, but I know they’ve got a limited amount of her that they can shoot since they’re masking her pregnancy. Soon, we’ll start seeing less of Robin, too, when Cobie Smulders starts to show more. It’ll be interesting to see how they work that out in the future. This episode isn’t very high on my list of favorite episodes in the series as I tend to pick the more emotion-driven episodes than the humor driven ones, but it was very funny, using a time-manipulation technique that the show has never really gone for before (i.e. the sped-up montage of events over time), and I think it worked really well for this story. I also didn’t think the “guest star” spots for Kendra Wilkinson, Kim Kardashian and Speidi were bad at all. These faux television personalities were used to the best of their talents. Although, for the record, even when they’re just an animated magazine cover, I still don’t like Spencer and Heidi.

The Husband:

I haven’t checked the AV Club review of this episode yet, where my wife tells me is filled with user comments about their experiences with “reading a magazine” at work, but it’s appropriate since I was going to dedicate my space in this review talking about my own “reading a magazine” ways.

I work in a 16-story building with a very wide variety of businesses, including ones based around health, law, accounting, real estate, storage, and, of course, yours truly in computers and entertainment metadata. The company I work at owns the entirety of the 13th floor along with portions of the 10th and 12th. I used to work on 13 but now I work with my subsection on 12.

Now, Marshall and I share a lot of the same qualities, but we slightly differ on “reading a magazine.” I have no issue walking down the hallway with a magazine or a book in hand, as, basically, we all do it and there’s no use hiding it. What’s the point?

My issue is other people present in public bathroom while I “read a magazine.” I have no issue with #1 anywhere, but #2 is a bit of a different matter, and if other people are in that restroom on certain days after a certain Mexican or Persian food lunch, they may in fact gain a few talking points about me, one of the few people in the building to wear slip-on Chuck Taylor low-tops or slip-on checkered rockabilly sneakers. (I decided in 2007 that I was so over shoelaces.) More importantly, I just simply can’t physically do anything if anybody is present, so I usually just wait until the room is cleared before proceeding.

My major issue that I discovered upon immediately working at this company was that the 13th floor bathroom is never empty, so I began moving around the building, trying out different floors. I finally settled upon 11, which not only has zero offices owned by my company, but seems to be completely abandoned despite the fact that I know that 90% of the office space is technically rented out. Maybe the offices are filled with introspective ugly trolls with social issues. It doesn’t really matter, because the bathroom is a haven, to say the least, and only rarely am I interrupted. When I moved to 12, I continued to go to the 11th floor, as I rarely saw anybody, and when I did, they didn’t know me and I didn’t know them. The only time I feel the need to explain myself is when I get back into an upwards elevator and see some of my coworkers going up to either 12 or 13, and there I am coming onto an elevator from a floor I have no business of being on.

So there you have it. Marshall and I finally differ on something, and yet it’s still a very similar situation. I have a haven, and I am eternally grateful for it. And nobody is tearing down the wall with a sledgehammer.

And that’s presumably the last time I’m going to ever discuss my magazine-reading here on this blog.