One of the best aspects of How I Met Your Mother is how tightly written and self-referential the show is. Sure, this episode doesn’t reference anything too obscure or that old; however, it does continue the joke of the ducky tie and brings back Kal Penn as Robin’s therapist Kevin. The episode also marks the return of Ted’s GNB Building, which has been a subplot for quite a while now and eventually becomes a central point to Ted’s story about finding his wife.
“Field Trip” follows the same suit as last week’s “The Stinson Missile Crisis” in that it’s a clever episode with good development, but it doesn’t further the overall story in any way whatsoever. It weaves together three main storylines that barely cross over and feels more like several short episodes. Viewers will only remember one plotline as time goes on. It makes it feel like the other two were written just to fill time. Usually that’d be a bad way to write a sitcom, but HIMYM has mastered it over the years.
The show opens on Robin in court-mandated therapy again discussing how Kevin has helped her come to terms with her abandonment issues, but then she worries she is abandoned when Kevin says he can’t be her therapist anymore because he’s moving to Alaska. Of course, he wasn’t moving but was actually attracted to her. They share a series of breakfasts before going on a real date. The rest of the gang find it weird that she’s dating her former therapist. As time goes on, Robin and Kevin’s relationship progresses, but the plot falls into the background until it is picked back up again near the end. By the end of “Field Trip” it’s clear that Robin/Kevin is a stepping stone to a larger, more significant development.
Ted’s takes his introduction to architecture class on a field trip to the GNB Building construction site but is turned away when he doesn’t have a pass. He ends up with a dozen students in a conference room with Barney who has just discovered his girlfriend Nora doesn’t like ewoks. In Barney’s world, this means there is no possible way she can be under 37 and has been lying about being 29. After a well thought-out Powerpoint presentation and a graph explaining the ‘Ewok Line,’ he teams up with Ted for the rest of the field trip to keep his mind off of Nora and to give the writers some interaction between the main characters. They discover that they can poll the students and a German family who joined the ‘tour group’ over debates they had throughout the years. It would have been great to see the writers use arguments that actually existed in the HIMYM universe, but instead they went though silly questions that were funny, but could have been related to the series in a greater sense.
Which brings us to Marshall’s plot; it seems like the most prominent plotline in the episode and will certainly be carried over in future episodes. Martin Short guest-starred as Marshall’s boss Garrison Cootes again, but Marshall is dismayed to discover he is no longer a ruthless lawyer and is more of a teddy bear. He struggles with quitting because he isn’t really going to save the environment, and Cootes scares him into believing the world is going to end soon so it doesn’t really matter anyway. All of this changes when he sees the sonogram of his and Lily’s baby and says he has to fight. Nothing really progressed with the expecting mothers, but like Robin’s story, this will turn into something bigger. We’ll just have to wait.