• Gina Denny

Episode 2.2 - Perception

Updated: Jun 17

The episode begins with Marshall casually looking at Robin’s butt as she walks away, and while Marshall is super embarrassed about it, Barney and Ted are both really excited about it: it means Marshall is getting over Lily. Barney tries to make an analogy about being single in New York and it quickly skews into a long-running conversation in which the dudes use names of candy bars as euphemisms for breasts. This is something this show does often and well: They’ll make a joke or two and then show some sped-up footage and the voiceover says, “This went on for a while” and then they jump to the end, where one more zinger lands perfectly and the scene can move on. It’s a brilliant little trick to show the camaraderie between the characters without droning on and on. It demonstrates some realism (three dudes just shooting the shit in a bar lasts a lot longer than the 90 seconds that the scene allows for) and it means the writers don’t actually have to come up with the jokes to fill that space. What’s missing is what makes the story.

Cut to Robin who is heading home, where Lily is waiting outside her door.

Opening credits. That’s a curb-hanger, folks.

That cold open sets up the A and B plot for the episode.

A plot:

Barney is trying to get Marshall a date and Marshall is bad at it. But then Barney swoops in and hits on the girl and takes her home. But Barney is very encouraging about it. Hypothetically. Barney promises to do it again and Marshall doesn’t want to, but then finally agrees.

Marshall again flirts with a woman but is very bad at it. Barney swoops in to save him but ends up going home with the woman in question again.

Barney comes over to get Marshall and Marshall takes away all Barney’s magic tricks. They go to a college bar where Marshall actually says something not awful to a girl, though it’s a pretty cheesy line. Barney is striking out and Marshall isn’t picking up on the girl’s signals that she wants to go out with him. Barney gets her number for Marshall and then steals the card she wrote it on.

A few days later, Barney says that he can hook Barney up with the same girl again, but it’s actually an identical twin, which is gross and weird. They double-date with the twins, and Barney steals both of them. He says he’s trying to teach Marshall that being single is the worst.

Marshall storms out and sees Lily standing on the sidewalk.

Marshall’s awful pickup lines: My hands are so sweaty. Whatsamatter, Four Eyes, you got astigmatism or something?


Robin goes over to Ted’s apartment, where he tells her about a 1934 penny he found. REMEMBER THIS PENNY, it becomes really important later on. Like. SUPER important.

Robin tells him that Lily is in town and that they went apartment hunting together. Flashback to Lily gushing about how happy and fulfilled she is.

Lily shares all these flashbacks and stories about her art program and the people she met on the bus.

Ted is pissed that Lily is happy. The next time we see them all, Robin and Ted are both helping Lily go apartment hunting and Ted realizes Lily is miserable. He and Robin argue and bet on it, Ted claims that he knows Lily better and Robin claims that she knows better because she’s a girl.

Lily steps into the horrifying, dirty, scary apartment and says, “Yeah, I’ll take that first apartment.” Later, they’re sitting in Robin’s apartment, drinking tequila, waiting for Lily to get drunk-honest. She gets a phone call, leaves the room, Ted figures he lost the bet. But Lily comes back and is desperately sad that she waited too long for the first, good apartment, and she lost out on it. Ted pushes at her, trying to get her to admit she loves Marshall and Lily drunkenly sobs, “the apartment is a metaphor for Marshall”.

The next morning, Ted and Lily are hungover and Robin is still a little drunk. Lily reveals that the whole time she’s been talking about how happy she is, she is thinking about nothing but Marshall. She also reveals that the stories she told were all, while technically true, total bullshit. She goes back over the exact scenes, with the same exact dialog, but the context and emphasis changes to show how disappointing her trip to San Francisco was. She regrets leaving Marshall. Ted tells her Marshall would take her back, but that she shouldn’t go back to Marshall unless she’s 100% sure that she really does want him back.

And this is what we’re talking about this week: Perception. We’ve all heard the saying that “perception is reality” and Lily is playing with that here. She uses context clues to shift everyone’s perception of what happened without ever actually lying to them.

She waits outside the bar to talk to Marshall. She admits that the art fellowship was a mistake and was the worst. Marshall tells her that he needs to figure out who he is outside of her. She begs him to take her back, but Marshall is adamant about protecting his heart and figuring out what he needs. They sit on the steps of the building and catch up and she offers, “If there’s anything I can do to make it up to you”... she storms into the bar, where Barney is still sitting with the twins. She throws a drink in Barney’s face, then comes back with a hat on and pretends to be her own twin and throws another drink in his face. The twins take the hint and walk away.

Writing Prompt: Write a scene full of dialog that can be interpreted two very different ways. The words your characters say must stay exactly the same, but the context, emphasis, and perspective will change the entire meaning.

Listen to the episode here

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