'How I Met Your Mother' recap: Mandy Patinkin!

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Image Credit: Cliff Lipson/CBS

How I Met Your Mother went right for my compression sock-covered Achilles heel tonight with an episode that had a trifecta of awesome: Swords, scotch, and Princess Bride references.

Full details of the second (erm, sorta third) episode of the final season are as follows…

We picked up at 2 p.m., 52 hours to go before the Stinson-Scherbatsky union. Marshall was still en route to the location, stopping only to pay some dues (which I’ll get to momentarily). Robin and Barney, fearing the flame in their relationship would extinguish after marriage, were on a quest to have one more round of good sex before making it official, but it proved harder than anticipated (no pun intended!). And as all of that unfolded, Lily came across a list of things Ted hoped to do before moving to Chicago, and in running through it with him, guided Ted to an important lesson. (Did anyone else momentarily forget he was planning on moving?)

I’ll start with still synchronized-speaking couple, Robin and Barney. As I mentioned, the quest to have one more good bang was kind of a bust, thanks to an invasion of the elderly relatives (who — because they were portrayed as The Enemy tonight — I’ll call The Elders). You know the kind — the ones who flock at the mention of the words “buffet,” “60 minutes,” and “Mandy Patinkin,” according to Robin. They were a walker-armed force to be reckoned with. In fact, at one point, all hope for a spontaneous sexcapade seemed lost. That is, until James stepped up and faced a crowd of The Elders so that Robin and Barney could slink away undetected. It was all for naught, though. Just when Robin and Barney thought they were alone, they realized they’d stepped into the same room as Robin’s humping great-grandparents. Traumatizing? Yes. But also an epiphany. The pair realized that they — like Robin’s randy great-grandparents who’d been married for 60 years — could keep the flame burning for years and years to come.

As you may have guessed, Robin and Barney got the lighter plotline of the night. While it still had a poignant moment, it served as a nice contrast to Ted’s storyline, which was the emotional anchor of the episode for two reasons that essentially tied together.

First off, as I mentioned, Ted had made a list of things that he wanted to do before moving, and several of the items were sort of farewells to New York as a city,  like “say goodbye to the Empire State Building” (whom he called “Empie”) and clean up a certain grammatically offensive graffiti that has taunted him. For anyone who has watched HIMYM over the seasons, you know that New York has oftentimes been a character itself, whether it was playing hide-and-seek with the best burger in the city or welcoming Ted’s first building to its skyline. So the idea of Ted thinking about leaving New York was just sad. (Lily put it well at the end, telling Ted after looking at his list, “for a guy who loves New York this much, to leave it, you must really need to go, huh?”)

I should note that not all of the things on his list were necessarily New York-centric. The most notable exception was mysteriously written as, “Come clean about April 26.” After some prompting, Ted finally admitted to Lily that it was on that date that he — not her drunken drycleaner — had ruined her favorite cocktail dress (one that was “the perfect combination of slutty and classy,” according to Lily) during a Princess Bride-themed sword fight with Marshall. That’s right, SWORD FIGHT. Lily, as you’ll recall, has a history of bad luck with swords, having been seen stabbed by one in an early season. And now, we learned, not only has a sword taken her flesh, one’s taken her best dress! To make Ted pay for this sin, she made him wear an old-timey bathing suit that made him look like a 19th century Waldo — as in Where’s. She made Marshall pay, too, by making him don Packers gear, including a cheese head. For Viking-lover Marshall, this really stung.

This brings me to probably the most important item on Ted’s list and the second reason the whole thing hit a nerve — he wanted to have one more Scotch with Barney. You see, Ted had this $600 bottle of Scotch that he’d been saving to open with Barney and Marshall. (What he didn’t know was that years ago, Robin and Lily had dropped the actual bottle during a sword fight and replaced it with a disgusting concoction that had scotch, hand sanitizer, ketchup, and chocolate syrup to get the color just right.) This, to Lily, indicated not only an acknowledgement of the fact that Ted had been avoiding Barney (his “best bro”) but also that Ted was looking at the whole move from the wrong perspective. “Say goodbye to the bad things,” she said, “all the times you felt lost, all the times it was a no instead of a yes, scrapes and bruises, heartache. Goodbye to everything you really want to do for the last time.” And his drink with Barney, she said, shouldn’t be a last drink. It should be “the first toast to Barney’s new life.”

With that, Ted crossed off the last item on his list — “One last life lecture from Lily.” I wanted to bawl. But Lily said something that was sort of a comfort — “You’re dreaming if you think it’s the last one of those.” Maybe not this one, Lil. But soon it will be — for us anyway.

Emotionally spent? So was I. Then one more heart-stopper happened. Ted walked outside with a REAL bottle of $600 scotch — which Lily shoplifted for him! — and prepared to toast his friend. Until Barney blurted out, “I saw you and Robin by the carousel.”

What happens next? That’s next week’s tale. Meanwhile, tell me your thoughts on the episode.


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