So last week, Flash Forward threw me for a loop with its surprise suicide. This week, it was How I Met Your Mother‘s turn to dash all my hopes for a happy ending. Checking the calendar, there’s obviously only one reason why.
It starts with Ted telling the kids that Barney has done a complete 180. Where he used to deride Ted for having loving, committed relationships, he’s now the one with the girlfriend. He’s even going so far as to give up his porn collection.
His PORN collection. Seriously, it’s like the life-blood that is Barney Stinson. This is a major step for him, and it’s all for the love of a woman named Robin. Lily’s surprised, Marshall’s not. After all, Barney’s got “relationship gut,” that annoying little pudge that happens when one is happy with their present circumstances and can stand to start letting things go. Barney denies this, but he hikes his pants up anyway.
But yeah, back to the porn. He brings it to Ted, Lily, and Marshall, and while Lily offers to take the foot locker of fetishes off Ted’s hands, she only manages to get away with a video entitled Squat, which I really don’t want to think about. Marshall gets a tape too, but he doesn’t say what it is.
Ted swears that he’s going to throw the rest away, but then something happens and the tape entitled Archisexture just happens to find its way into the VCR and Ted just happens to find himself on the couch settling in to watch.
And Barney, knowing that this is the tape Ted would select, has just happened to take over the movie. He leaves a message for Ted that says that if Ted has The Collection, one of two things has happened. 1) Barney is dead, in which case Ted is to take his body to The Hamptons for a weekend and recreate Weekend at Bernies or 2) Barney is finally in a committed relationship, in which Ted’s mission is to GET HIM OUT OF IT.
When Ted shows the tape to Lily and Marshall, Lily wants to see the rest of the tape – the part where Barney makes his own sex tape with a nubile young lady – but Ted and Marshall have seen enough. Ted’s not sure if Barney’s serious, after all the tape is four years old, but as the weeks go by, he notices that Barney’s getting bigger and bigger while the relationship is deteriorating at a rapid pace. Ted swears they should break up, but neither one is willing to do it. He thinks they’re playing relationship chicken, Marshall thinks Barney ate the relationship chicken. Lily thinks they should leave them alone.
Finally, Marshall gets some alone time with Barney. He keeps asking if Barney’s happy, but he can’t get an answer. He admits that the relationship’s in trouble and thinks it’s time to call in Lily. She’s had some experience breaking up Ted’s relationships before, she can do it again. Unfortunately, Lily claims she’s retired. She’s a matchmaker now, but she still won’t find anyone for Ted.
The boys decide that they don’t need Lily. They can break up Robin and Barney on their own by making it look like Barney’s going to propose. It’s the one big thing that freaked Robin out way back in Season 1 or 2 when she thought Ted was about to propose with the ring in the champagne glass. He wasn’t, of course, but it was her reaction that spelled the end of their relationship. And flashback to Robin freaking out….
Fun fact: Remember how that scene originally ended with the guy tapping Robin on the shoulder and going, “Yeah, that’s my ring?” Well, it turned out that the ring AND the proposal were real. The guy was a fan of the show who wanted to put his proposal on air, the girl was his girlfriend, and one day, he’ll tell his kids the story of How He Met Their Mother.
Marshall wants to find Barney a hot woman to hit on him instead, but after he sees Barney in his present state – fat, wiping rib sauce down his front – he thinks Ted might be on to this ring thing instead.
Cut to a diner where Ted and Marshall are staking out Barney and Robin behind menus. Marshall thinks they should have gotten a stakeout van instead, so they could have ordered pizza and watched the whole thing through big binoculars and said, “This ain’t what I signed up for.” Eh, another time, maybe. The waiter brings two glasses of champagne, Robin finds the ring, and to Ted and Marshall’s surprise, they sort of “meh” their way into an engagement.
Yes, you read that right. Engagement.
Lily’s furious until Robin asks her to be the Maid of Honor, but when she’s alone with the boys she decides to read them the riot act again. This calls for the big guns, though. Amateur hour is officially OVER. They decide to lead Robin and Barney into recreating their four biggest fights all in one time and all in one place. These are:
- The Battle of the Dirty Dishes
- The Ex-Girlfriend Conflict: Barney sees an old girlfriend, doesn’t recognize her until she bends over, and then asks Robin to do the same.
- The Star Wars Altercation: Robin makes fun of Barney’s giant storm trooper.
- The Canadian-American War: Barney thinks Neil Young can’t sing, Robin says them’s fighting words.
Ted thinks they should email them pictures reminding them of the fights; Lily thinks they should take it up a notch. They need to wait until Robin and Barney are at dinner. Then, Ontario native/Growing Pains dad Alan Thicke will approach the table to remind them of the Canadian-American war, a Storm Trooper will pass by the outside window, Meg the ex will drop by the table as well, and finally, a bus boy will pass the table, carrying a bunch of dirty dishes.
Best of all, this time, they’re getting the stakeout van.
Or not. Cheap Ted decides that $25 extra for the van is too much. He gets a station wagon instead. Then a ROBOT shows up instead of the Storm Trooper. Lily thinks it’s the same thing, Ted and Marshall not so much. He climbs in the station wagon. A pizza guy arrives next and starts unwittingly (maybe) quoting lines from one of Barney’s videos as he tries to give up an “extra large sausage” (Pizza people, please, this is a family show). Alan Thicke arrives next. He’s late because he was looking for a van.
And then Robin and Barney make the van, er, station wagon.
Right after this, Crazy Meg (played by the brilliant April Bowlby from Drop Dead Diva) shows up. Apparently, she’s been around before, but I don’t remember the character. Anyone, anyone? Anywhoo…she wonders if Barney’s really going to propose to her, but Marshall wants to call off the plan altogether. Lily doesn’t think that’s a good idea. She sends Alan Thicke in, followed by Crazy Meg and the robot. To their surprise, Barney and Robin don’t even notice the bus boy, and even end the evening with a kiss.
Oh my, they’re actually in love.
Later, they’re at the bar with Alan Thicke and the robot, toasting the awesomeness that is Barney and Robin. Robin walks in, looking better than she had in weeks and shockingly announces that she and Barney have broken up. See, when the trio thought that they’d been caught, Barney and Robin were actually taking a good long look at themselves in the mirror that is the diner window. They don’t like what they see, and are already on the way to breaking up when Alan Thicke shows up.
Which is why nothing else fazes them.
The best part is, they don’t see it as a break up. Instead, they see it as two friends getting back together. (FYI: I’m so using that line). Barney offers to be her back-up guy at 40, but when she says that she already has that deal with Ted, he bumps it up to 39.
Marshall asks how Barney’s taking the whole thing, Robin thinks it might be a while until he’s back to his old self. Then they feel a chill, and hot Barney walks in. “Daddy’s home.”
Bumper: Alan Thicke and Robin are hugging and saying that they need to catch up again. Lily remarks that it’s so great that they’re friends since it’s been so long since the music video. Alan barely remembers it but he does remember the failed variety show they did together. Barney, not missing a beat, charges off to peruse YouTube for video evidence.
Tags: How I Met Your Mother