The Three Day Rule? What is this, 1995? It's a flimsy excuse for a sitcom plot in the twenty-first century, my friends. But damned if HIMYM nearly makes it work by throwing in a few delightful twists. We're still missing Lily, and we won't have her back for two more weeks. And despite the inventiveness that it took to get laughs out of this premise, it still feels like we're marking time until the gang is back together.
If you don't know what the three day rule was before watching this, welcome to civilization, Mr. Van Winkle! Ted meets a girl at the bar, gets her number, but has to be talked out of calling her right away by Marshall and Barney. No calling for three days, they insist, on the authority of none other than Jesus. (He knew better than to come back to life in one day, before people even knew he was dead, or on Saturday, when everybody's busy. No, he came back on Sunday, when everybody was in church anyway, and he could make a big entrance and invent the high-five.) Ted agrees to the letter of the law, but violates the spirit by texting the girl right away, starting a texting marathon over the next twenty-four hours that leads him to fall for her a bit.
Twist #1: It's not her that he's texting. Nope, Barney nabbed Ted's phone and changes her stored number to his work cell. And he and Marshall amuse themselves for a whole day leading Ted on. They send sexy texts and get him to put on those red cowboy boots (ugh) and nothing else. Awesome! Except … what comes next? "I think we're about to have sex with Ted," Marshall realizes.
Twist #2: Barney and Marshall get romantic inspiration for their text messages from large black security guard Stan, who quotes Pablo Neruda to them and makes them fall for him a bit.
Twist #3: When Barney and Marshall fail to 'fess up, Robin spills their secret to Ted, who then exacts his revenge by texting them the confession that he has gay dreams about his best friend. Which leads predictably (but hilariously) to the fight between Barney and Marshall over whom Ted would be most gay for.
And when Ted joins the gang at MacLaren's to confess his crazy dream to them, it turns out to be a half-hour play-by-play of his fantasy dinner date with his five favorite architects of all time. (Three names came up in what we overheard: Gehry, Pei, Fuller. Any guesses about the other two? I've got dibs on Wright and Johnston.) Then he produces the girl, whom he did not call but tracked down at her workplace, and takes her out to dinner — but not before making a point of telling Barney that it's Holli with an I. (Girls who spell their names with an ending I are like roller coasters: you have to wait in a long line, but when you finally get there, you hang on for dear life and hope that you don't drop your keys.)
Holli gets disposed of in a quick montage that shows she's every bit the over-eager clingy type that Ted was playing in his day of texting. And the writers remind us that they haven't forgotten about the mother in a quick final promise. Tonight wasn't one for the books. But it wasn't nearly as dire as the played-out premise might have suggested, thanks to our game cast and some under-the-gun creavity. It's not what we're waiting for. What the hell, though — it'll pass the time until then.
- Ted doesn't know what LOL means, as evidenced by this text: "my parents got divorced awhile back, it was really tough, lol."
- Robin's very attached to her idea for Ted's revenge text —"I haven't told anyone this, but I have three months to live" — but I much prefer Ted's discarded idea: "I once killed a man with a shovel, and those feelings are creeping up again."
- Ted's "naked lady noise" (a kind of grunting, simian laugh) is another example of a terrible sitcommy bit that ends up delivering a nice little moment — when he breaks into it while looking at a piece of abstract art.
- "That's M.E., Marshall Eriksen, star of Ted's gay dreams!"
- "News flash: They make conditioners that don't leave a build-up!"