Episode 2.1 - Pickup
Updated: Jun 17
The episode starts with Ted telling his kids that this is all leading up to meeting their mother (it is - dating Robin is actually an essential part of this story arc) and then reminding the audience that Marshall and Lily broke up. The story rewinds just a bit to actually show us the breakup. Alyson Hannigan is wearing a pretty bad wig (though this show does get props for keeping track of how everyone’s hair looks in flashbacks, so kudos for that) and she says she needs to figure out who she is outside of “Lily and Marshall”.
Marshall says he’s gonna call Lily and Ted tells him not to and that he will punch Marshall in the face everytime he tries to call. “You’re a good friend, Ted.”
Robin shows up with “big news” but Ted interrupts her to tell her that Lily left, so Ted and Robin will keep their relationship a secret. Barney shows up and is super stoked that the three dudes are all single at the same time. He gives a gross monologue and immediately figures out that Ted and Robin hooked up.
This is the start of the cold opens for the show, which is fun.
Then there’s a montage of the first 30 days of a new relationship and the first 30 days after a breakup. You spend a lot of time in bed, your friends can’t stand to listen to you, you never seem to wear pants.
Side note: on these tv shows, why does everyone always stay at the apartment that has a lot of roommates around? Why not sleep over at Robin’s?
Marshall is depressed. Barney gives the advice, “When I’m sad, I stop being sad and start being awesome instead.”
Ted blames Lily, Robin tries to defend her, but Ted just starts flirting with her instead. Marshall finds Lily’s shampoo, smells it, gets sad, and then Robin points out that it’s her shampoo and not Lily’s. Ted demonstrates psychic abilities to detect when Marshall is calling Lily. Marshall calls her on day 34 (while Ted and Robin are in the shower together, which is awkward) but Lily has changed her number.
Robin says Marshall needs to get out of the house. He needs fresh air and sunshine. That reminds Barney of a stripper named Sunshine and his theory is that a guy cannot get over a woman until he can no longer picture that woman’s boobs. So they need to look at a lot of naked women, apparently. Ted decides to take “sunshine” literally and takes Marshall to a Yankee game, which is fine, until there’s a proposal and Marshall freaks out. Robin decides to try to help, and she takes Marshall to a shooting range. Marshall LOVES it (though I don’t know how he grew up in the midwest without shooting a gun?)
Marshall is doing better, but then Lily’s credit card bill shows up. Marshall starts obsessing over her credit card purchases and concocts a fantasy in which Lily wears tennis clothing on a a date with George Clinton while he gives her a pet ferret.
Barney points out that a credit card statement is old news and suggests that Marshall looks online instead. There’s a new charge from a NYC hotel and Marshall calls the hotel, but a DUDE answers the phone. Marshall says he’s going down to the hotel to confront Lily and beg her to take him back and Ted snaps. Tells Marshall that he’s pathetic and that Lily would never take him back in the condition he’s in.
Marshall sneaks away and goes to confront Lily, but a scrawny dude answers the door. Marshall punched him. Then it turns out this is just an identity thief who stole Lily’s credit cards. This bums Marshall out even more, because now he has no connection to her. This is really the end.
Ted reminds Marshall that Marshall was happy before Lily, and he can learn to be happy again. This doesn’t really work and Marshall stays sad, but then on day 67, they find Marshall making pancakes. There’s a quick scene at the end where Lily shows up at the bar, but sees the group sitting at a table that isn’t their usual table and they’re having fun, so she doesn’t go inside.
TV shows often really struggle with how to handle summer hiatus. Sometimes they come back in media res, picking up exactly where they left off so Rachel’s baby is born in both May AND September somehow (and then her birthday is in October? Sure, Jan). Sometimes they just skip ahead, so you’re dying to know how Jim and Pam’s first date went, but they’re four months into a relationship and we skip all the beginning stuff completely. This is a blend of those methods, and it works really well. This montage helps to brush over two stories that need to be told (Ted’s new relationship is going well and Marshall is grieving poorly), shows the passage of time, but skips through a lot of time that could chew up six weeks worth of episodes.
This is something we have to deal with, even in long-form fiction. I’m in the middle of writing a pirate story, and you have to figure out how to hit the highlights so you don’t chronicle forty-six days at sea where very little happens.
Harry Potter had to march through a school year in every book.
Twilight did this well, too: Book 2 opens up three months after Book 1 ended, skipping the “blissfully happy” part of the relationship and jumping to where it’s dramatic and interesting again. She also demonstrates the empty passage of time during a situational depression by simply listing one word on a page for each month that passes.
This episode uses time-stamps to mark the passage of time, and they show the relationships shifting and changing to demonstrate why we care that so much time has passed.
Writing Prompt: Brainstorm a bunch of ways that your character could get over their grief and which secondary character would introduce which method to your MC