The Slap Bet is one of the more popular running gags/storylines in the series, so in the final season Bays and Thomas want to give closure to the fans on this long-running thread. In this episode, viewers learn about the history of the slap set as a homage to kung-fu movies and mythic Eastern thought. The episode is notable for one reason: Marshall’s nonsense throughout the episode is for the sake of nonsense. No stirring third act epiphanies happen to Marshall or Barney or to any of the other characters. Marshall wants to slap Barney, wants Barney to anticipate it, fear it, dread it. Marshall slaps Barney. It hurts. The End.
Marshall’s mythic tale of slap apprenticeship, which he undertook to make more memorable the slap though the mere telling of the tale makes the memorable since nothing Marshall tells happened, is silly nonsense. Barney reacts badly to each part of the story, its dramatic turns, its frightening bits of slapping trees and slaps so fast one can pour tea and eat noodles before the one slapped realizes what happened. The gang backs up Marshall’s story with affirmative nods of the head. I though it all nonsense, which isn’t necessarily a criticism since I enjoy nonsense. Barney’s spasmodic dysphonia to each change in the story enhanced the drama and also was in-character for the character. Barney’s stuck with the mindset of a freshman frat boy. I wouldn’t doubt the writers to talk themselves into Barney believing the story, even though he’s made up similar tales of feat and adventure and triumph so he should’ve called Marshall on that. I soon realized Barney complied with a role he needed to fill for the memory Ted draws from in telling the story to his children. Marshall’s story has three characters with specific roles to fill for his role as the willing student, the learning student, like the karate kid. Along the way he meets his guides/teachers, who are integral to his development into the Kung-Fu Panda, or whatever.
At the end, and after the slap, Barney makes known his knowledge that Marshall spun his grand tale for the sake of a memory. Of course, he recoils upon Marshall reminding him of the last slap Marshall has to use. Bays and Thomas get to tell another slap story, which isn’t great, because “Slapsgiving 3: Slappapointment in Slapmarra” isn’t a good episode. The story-within-the-story is pointless, the actual story is meaningless filler, and it continued HIMYM’s use of stereotypical foreigners. It took the gang back to the bar again, but MacClaren episodes have been terrible this season (but that’s every episode but one). As always, I didn’t laugh. Telling funny jokes is the minimum requirement for a sitcom.
I didn’t care that Marshall delayed his Important Conversation, because of the slap bet, nor did I care about the absence of Cristin Milioti’s The Mother. Lily and Marshall will kiss and make-up next week. The Mother will give Robin a ukulele made of flowers or something like that. The best news about How I Met Your Mother during the holiday break was that its finale airs March 31.