How I Met Your Father Season 2 Episode 3 Review: “The Reset Button” Gets Its Act Together
Freed from the trappings of a miniscule season order, How I Met Your Father‘s second season has sputtered out of the gate a bit, feeling the pressure of unwinding season one’s many tensions into something a little more relaxed (and for good reason, with double the running time to work with). “The Reset Button”, as it suggests, is How I Met Your Father‘s opportunity to really start fresh – which it does with aplomb, an episode thick with narrative breadcrumbs for later episodes (a How I Met Your Mother mainstay – it really was crazy how we had HIMYM and LOST at the same time, isn’t it?… We really had it all). And though its trio of plots are definitely a mixed bag, “The Reset Button”, much more than last week’s “Midwife Crisis”, is finally facing in the right direction.
With no climactic resolutions or pop singer guest stars gumming up the works, “The Reset Button” benefits from being able to put its full attention on the main cast. Though some of the stories work better than others – naturally, a Sophie/Jesse plot featuring Michael McDonald and Jessica St. Clair is going to do better than Valentina bickering with Ellen’s date over dinner – they’re all clearly in service of something meaningful – which was noticeably lacking from the tub birth and electric side subplots, even as HIMYF clumsily tried to tie everything together with a neat bow.
It also helps this episode is just a lot funnier; again, bringing in comedy legends like McDonald and St. Clair offer a certain freedom to the episode: you can have them do literally whatever you want and they’ll make it work – which in this case, is McDonald as Walter, doing a fairly hilarious (if generic) parody of Jordan Peterson types, a rich dude who eats raw meat and bows at the hypothetical temple of the Real Man.
As Sophie and Jesse try to figure out whether the penthouse libertarians want to fuck them or eat them, How I Met Your Father begins to do the legwork of rebuilding their friendship – something that’s just been assumed for the first two episodes of the season, as if one conversation and a few scenes together would make everything normal – I mean, there’s no more loaded phrase in the English language then “She’s the love of your life, and you gotta give it a shot”. It’s almost a challenge, in a way – if you really think she’s the one for you, you better not half ass it… it’s a moment HIYMF smartly allows to lie in the silence between their bits of dialogue, a knowing look on Jesse’s face all we get as a reaction to that underhanded challenge of Sophie’s. It presents a bit of tension, even as it finds reconciliation – and knowing that it is really only “sort of” the reset button, adds a panache of intrigue for what’s to come this season.
Unfortunately, Ellen’s scattered scenes between the penthouse scenes leave her drawing the short stick again. How I Met Your Father has a growing habit of making her story a sidecar to other characters, and its a trend that continues here, as “The Reset Button” presents the yin and yang of Valentina’s laissez faire approach to life. While she’s able to get back out there and start hooking up right away, her naivety that Charlie will just inevitably come back to her (of course, spoken just as he meets someone at Sid’s bar) combines with her new age philosophy in troubling ways. It makes for a more dynamic version of Valentina’s character; she could survive in season one with some whip smart lines and horny scenes with Charlie – but on her own, How I Met Your Father is smartly building some blinders into her worldview, which will provide natural avenues for conflict and growth as the season continues, and her theory is put to the test.
It’s unfortunate it takes a lot of yelling and Sad Charlie Eyes to get to the final act of “The Reset Button” – because once it hits the final five minutes, How I Met Your Father clicks into place for the first time this season. As a series of people in their late 20s, HIMYF‘s most important task is not to replicate the breadcrumb storytelling of its predecessor, or mimic any of the experimental narrative framing it would use (here, it’s an awful, awful redux of “Blah Blah” from HIMYM‘s “How I Met Everyone Else”, but in the form of a dude whose face is an emoji… it’s really not good)… it’s going to, of course, but where it needs really capture is that wild pendulum between hopeful and desperate that is one’s late 20s, the years before emotional clarity and maturity really take hold, where we can still be lead by instinct and emotion, rather than logic and experience. It’s a strange time, and one HIMYF has a lot of dynamic ways to build into its cast (especially with Sid and Hannah married, now – I love the heightened presence of Hannah in this episode, even if they’re just trying to milk airline miles out of Charlie’s weird Tinder date).
Season two of How I Met Your Father has taken its sweet time getting into gear; but with “The Reset Button”, it is starting to feel like all the pieces are finally in place. The season’s initial conflicts have been established, and there are plenty of moments teased for future episodes to begin building to – now, it all comes down to execution. Of course, that’s where “The Reset Button” is clearly finding its footing, almost backing itself into a quality ending, where Charlie finally begins a life in the new city, and everyone deludes themselves that everything is now normal, like there aren’t major events, life path-altering accidents, and Sophie’s lips on everyone just over the horizon. That innocence, in the moment, is a beautiful note to close the episode on, a reminder that no matter whether we plan our lives or trust the universe, we can never know the most important choices in life until long after we’ve made them.
- “Is that movie real?” “Well, Nicki Hilton was in it, so…. no.”
- I did not talk much about Sid/Hannah trying to get airline miles out of Charlie’s eccentric date so they can see each other more often. Feels more like a pin being placed for HIMYF to revisit later, as the “Year of Sid and Hannah’s Long Distance” inevitably hits some bumps in the road.
- There’s a great joke about Ellen and Rachel going to see Flubber: The Musical that only a very specific age group is going to understand. We’ll take it!
- “Like you’ve ever read a book.” “I’ve owned several!”
- Valentina likes to play with cat toys while she’s on shrooms… or just you know, anytime during the day.