After a week's hiatus, How I Met Your Mother returned with a solidly amusing new episode last night. In "Say Cheese," Lily and Marshall are thrown into a tizzy when Ted brings a new girl to join in on their small celebration of Lily's 32nd birthday. The three of them argue for most of the episode over whether it's appropriate to put Ted's random dates in their group photos.
In a combination of flashbacks and pictures, they all wax poetic on Ted's well-documented of search for "the one," and the projection of a falsely happy world through photographs, making Ted sound more like My So-Called Life's Angela Chase than himself. All of this just leads me to wonder how Lily had never thought of putting Ted's random dates at the edge of the group in the photo, so that if and when random date is no longer in the crowd, she can be easily and literally cut out of the picture. But then the episode wouldn't have had any conflict.
The successes and failures of individual episodes of How I Met Your Mother rest, though, on the random details, side jokes and B-plot lines. Here are the five most joyous moments of "Say Cheese."
1) Barney singing "Happy, happy Lilyday" in his best nasally Neil Young/Church Lady vibrato
2) Seeing all the male leads in tuxedos for Lily's birthday party in her own apartment
3) "No, it's not that she didn't want to, it's that she called penguins 'lame.' Penguins!"—Marshall explaining the reason behind a fight with Lily
4) Robin successfully setting up Barney to take a bad photo
5) A flashback to Marshall and Ted in college trying to decide how to pose. "Buddy cop movie? 80s sitcom about two roommates who never agree on anything?"