• Gina Denny

Episode 1.18 - Nothing Good Happens After 2AM

Updated: Jun 16

This is the only episode in the entire series to start with “previously”s. It shows some background info: Ted is in a long-distance relationship with Victoria and she’s going to break up with him, Robin has feelings for Ted, Robin has asked Ted to come over at 2AM.

The episode officially starts and flashes back to the beginning of the day, where Robin is presenting at career day in Lily’s kindergarten class and the kids all pester her about not having anybody to go home to. (quick note: even on the board, Barney’s job is not listed, and he responds with “please” again when Lily asks)

Then Robin is at work, saying it’s Saturday night (on the same day as kindergarten career day? Maybe that’s a Saturday event?) and Ted should go out and have fun, not sit at home moping. The shot pans out to show Robin’s co-anchor, Sandy Rivers (fun fact: played by Alyson Hannigan’s real-life husband). Sandy propositions her in a really creepy way.

Robin goes home and feels lonely, pouring herself a really big glass of wine (really the entire bottle). She mopes for a bit, and considers calling Sandy, but then.

She calls Ted.

She gives a really flimsy excuse about wanting to use a new juicer, and Ted plays along, even though it’s clearly an invitation for a hookup.

While en route, Ted manifests Victoria, feels guilty, and calls Marshall for advice. After fighting with Barney, Marshall tells Ted to go home. Ted works really hard to talk himself into this, that it’s no big deal. Lily tells Ted to go home, but says “Robin has feelings for you” intending for that to discourage him, but as Barney and Marshall explain, all that does is push Ted toward Robin. Ted admits this is a dumb idea, that his common sense has fallen asleep.

This is something that writers have to get comfortable with: making characters make bad decisions. They have to justify those decisions, and make them make some kind of sense, but characters have to make mistakes or else the story just isn’t interesting.

Robin says “the only person I wanted to see was you” and Ted realizes that he is still completely in love with Robin and he lies and says that Victoria dumped him already. Robin smiles, Ted calls her on it, and then Robin points out that he’s smiling, too.

The story cuts back to Barney, Lily, and Marshall. Lily wants to go home, and Barney is trying to convince them to stay out. In light of what we learned just a couple episodes ago, this scene rings a little sad. Barney is trying to constantly bury his loneliness.

Back at Robin’s, Ted and Robin have a charged conversation about their matching phones, then Ted’s phone rings and it’s Korean Elvis (who is hanging out with the rest of the gang). Marshall tells Ted to meet them at MacLaren’s and Ted recognizes that he’s done something bad, and Marshall and Lily yell at him to go home again. Ted admits they’re right, goes back in, intending to tell Robin that he’s going to go home, but as he leaves they hug and then hang on a little too long and then start kissing.

Robin invites Ted into her room and he says yes, but then decides to break up with Victoria immediately. Victoria manifests in his imagination again and he convinces himself that this situation is “not ideal” but he’s going to go through with it anyway.

Back at MacLaren’s, Lily kicks Korean Elvis in the nards and makes their middle-of-the-night exploits “legendary”.

Back at Robin’s, Ted is admitting that he needs to break up with Victoria, but he’s exhausted from pretending that he isn’t in love with Robin and that he wants to get laid and Robin wants this to happen, too. He blames Victoria, then realizes he doesn’t have his phone - he has Robin’s. Out of the bathroom, Victoria finally called and Robin answered, since she thought it was her phone left on the table. Robin is pissed and she dismisses Ted, who goes home and breaks up with Victoria in the cab on the way home.

Ted’s Darkest Moment is that he talked himself into a stupid decision, lost his girlfriend and also lost the girl he really loved, hurting her badly in the process.

Assuming the show only had a contract for the remainder of season one, this episode hits the 80% mark in the season, which is usually right about the time that a story hits its “darkest moment”. The darkest moment is the moment when all hope is lost, all allies have been eliminated, and our hero has more problems than ever. Ted started the season with a crush on a girl who liked him but didn’t want a serious relationship, which IS a problem, but now he has hurt and alienated her and revealed himself capable of cheating, which is a WHOLE LOT of problems.

If Ted had made a good decision (going to bed at 2AM), he wouldn’t have this problem. Victoria MIGHT NOT have been breaking up with him (she was - we learn this later in the series), but he also wouldn’t know that Robin likes him, which sets the next big chunk of the story in motion.

Tonight's series of terrible decisions (not going to bed at 2AM, answering Robin's call, playing along with "juicing", lying about breaking up with Victoria) all push the story forward.

Think about real life: you rarely make this many bad decisions in a row. And your life is probably not nearly interesting enough to justify tens of millions of people watching it as a TV show every week.

Ted's terrible decision-making is what makes the show interesting, at least at this stage. This "darkest moment" is all Ted's doing. He has dug himself this pit, and he will have to figure out how to dig himself out of it.

Writing Prompt: Have your character talk themselves into a really bad decision.

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Listen to the episode here

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