• Gina Denny

Episode 1.16 - Cupcake

Updated: Jun 16

This episode opens up with Ted and Victoria being kind of adorable in their new relationship.

We cut to Marshall coloring up his butt so he can interview for a job with his very old, torn up suit. Marshall reiterates that his dream is to work for basically no money, ever, so he can help save the planet from climate change (this is important later). Barney forces Marshall to go see his personal tailor to get a new suit.

In the bar, Lily invites Victoria to go wedding dress shopping after Robin is being a super mean girl. Victoria gets a call, and she’s been offered an important fellowship in Germany for the next two years. She says long distance doesn’t work, and Ted agrees (I agree too). So they realize they either need to break up, or she needs to decide to give up on her dream and stay for her relationship with Ted. Ted and Victoria spend a day thinking about what they want.

Ted goes suit shopping with Marshall and talks it over with Barney and Marshall. Victoria goes dress shopping with Lily and Robin to talk it over.

Marshall is on the phone with Lily, telling her about the inside of Barney’s tailoring shop, giving us anchor point #1 for this story.

Marshall tells a story about the creepy french dude Lily was spending time with during her semester abroad. His point is that Lily is his soulmate and long-distance almost killed their relationship.

Ted decides to call Victoria to ask how she feels about cats and realizes he doesn’t know her at all; we see her side of the conversation, too, giving us anchor point #2 for later on.

Ted decides that he will tell Victoria to go to Europe. She gives him a cupcake and he is suddenly overcome with emotion and irrationally asks her to stay.

After the commercial break, the scene flashes back to the first anchor point: Marshall’s conversation with Lily. Except this time, it pulls out of the phone call into Lily’s side of the scene.

Victoria’s side of the conversation shows her leaning toward staying and passing up her fellowship. Lily tells her side of the story that Marshall told earlier, letting us in on the punchline that the “creepy dude” she was spending time with was actually a girl that Marshall had mistakenly scared away. Lily’s advice lines up with Marshall’s, and then Ted’s phone call comes in, giving us the second anchor point.

Victoria walks away to get Lily an expensive dress to try on just for fun, leaving Lily a chance to tell Robin to stop being a bitch to Victoria.

Side note: The “it IS a super-important dessert scholarship… wow that’s hard to say without sounding sarcastic” joke pops into my head probably once a week, because there are some things that are just difficult to say with a straight face.

Before leaving the wedding dress shop, Lily destroys an $8,000 dress.

Then the scene cuts immediately to Victoria offering Ted that cupcake, him blurting out that he wants her to stay. The finish to that conversation is that she’s going to go. Ted asking her to stay kicked up her defiant instincts and she decided to go.

I actually agree with Ted here, though. When Victoria asks him to follow her, that’s a much bigger ask than him asking her to stay. If he follows her to Germany, he has expensive immigration paperwork to deal with, the difficulties of finding a job in a country where you don’t speak the language, subletting his apartment, quitting his job here, etc. Then they would have only each other, no support system in Germany. If she stays here, she keeps running the business she loves. She’d be giving up a dream that would be fun and nice. He’d be potentially ruining his life on short notice. I’m not saying she SHOULD stay. I’m just saying that asking him to follow her isn’t really equivalent here.

Ted and Victoria spend one last day together in bed, but Future Ted tells his kids that he and Victoria spent the whole day doing touristy NYC stuff.

Robin tells Lily she needs to confess the expensive dress to Marshall, but Lily insists she doesn’t need to. Marshall comes in, wearing his amazing new suit. Barney asks Marshall to come do corporate law and then hands Marshall his bill for the suit; it’s $4000. Marshall refuses to go work for Barney’s company, and Lily blurts out that she destroyed the $8,000 dress. So they’ve racked up $12,000 in debt in one day accidentally.

Ted drops Victoria off at the airport and they decide to try long-distance in the heat of the moment. Future Ted tells us right off that long-distance isn’t going to work, setting us up for the next two episodes.

Everyone comes up against the one thing that will force them to change their behavior or plans: Marshall will never do corporate law, until he’s faced with a sudden $12,000 bill for clothing. Lily says long-distance is the worst, but she did it for a chance to study in Paris. Ted won’t ask Victoria to stay for him, until she reminds him how awesome she is. Victoria won’t sacrifice happiness for a job, until Ted accidentally pushes against her feminist instincts.

This is “stakes” in a nutshell. What’s the ONE THING that can make your character compromise, change, evolve? Marshall won’t compromise his values, unless it helps take care of Lily, the most important thing in his life. Lily won’t leave Marshall’s side, unless her dreams hang in the balance. Ted won’t do long-distance or beg a woman to stay, unless he’s in love lol just kidding Ted caves in to the slightest bit of pressure. Victoria, however, won’t compromise until she thinks she’s in love, but then when she feels pressure, she pushes back against it.

Ted doesn’t really change here: he’s the anchor for this series. Everyone else, though, makes a decision that contradicts their initial feelings or plans.

Writing Prompt: Look at what your main character really, really wants. What are they willing to sacrifice to get it, make a good, long list of things they’re willing to give up. Then come up with the one thing that would make them change their mind.

Marshall wants to work in environmental law. He will sacrifice money, prestige, and long-term security for it. He stands up to mockery, puts himself in debt, and gives up his traditional midwestern upbringing to rely on his wife’s income. But when Lily needs him, he drops everything for her.

Victoria wants to be in a happy relationship. She’ll sacrifice independence and a chance to travel. She’ll give up a prestigious opportunity to gild her resume. But as soon as a guy asks her to stay, she bristles and decides to go.

Find the one “button” that will make your character change course.

Listen to the episode here

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