'How I Met Your Mother' recap: Never again

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Image Credit: Ron P. Jaffe/Fox

Ten hours before Robin and Barney were set to get hitched, the gang found themselves making vows of a different kind — to never drink to the point of Hangover Hell ever again.

The declarations were brought on by the aftermath of Barney’s drinking bender that, as we saw in the last new episode of How I Met Your Mother, left him befriending lost bros while wandering the streets.

In this week’s episode, Barney’s adventures in drunkenness were very much over, and what was left was a pile of useless suit-covered flesh. Any other day, this wouldn’t have been too much of an issue, but as I mentioned, we have now arrived at Barney and Robin’s actual wedding day. There were things to do. Specifically, Barney and Robin were set to take their wedding pictures, but since he couldn’t hold himself upright, that was going to be tricky to pull off. Again, this would usually not be a problem because Robin’s a cool bride, but in this case, Robin father was paying for everything and his reaction should Barney show up in a less-than-desirable condition was going to be a big problem.

So the gang set out to help Barney by making him the famous Stinson Hangover Fixer Elixir, a magical concoction that once won one of Barney’s ancestors the Bro-bel Prize. (Look it up, it’s in the history books.) But even their combined knowledge of the ingredients (Tantrum energy drink, Funyuns, grease) still left one giant hole in the recipe — a secret ingredient that Barney had never shared with any of them. So while Ted and Marshall set out to gather the ingredients they could remember, Lily and Robin were tasked with waking Barney enough so he could reveal the final ingredient.

Grease proved to be the most challenging ingredient for Ted and Marshall to find because the Inn’s anti-delicious approach to cuisine meant there was no grease to be found…except the one that came from their cooked bacon. The chef agreed to make more bacon — and give Ted and Marshall the resulting grease — only if the bacon that was already available for consumption finished before the end of breakfast. Marshall was immediately put on the spot, but Ted took over the task upon realizing he had unnecessarily been on a lifelong bacon ban. (His mom lied and told him that he was allergic to bacon and other delicious foods in an effort to get him to eat healthier. Also, really, Ted?) In sum, they got the grease and Ted ate too much bacon, leading to a self-imposed ban on bacon. And Ted stuck to that vow. The same can’t be said, however, for his promise to never drink too much again.

In fact, after each of the gang made an individual vow to never go overboard again, we saw in a series of flash-forwards that no one stuck to their promise. Lily drank too much the day her son went to college. (Side note: Um, anyone else think grown-up Marvin is kinda hot?) Marshall drank too much the night he pulled off a surprise win over Joe Manganiello’s muscles Brad for state supreme court judge, leading to an embarrassing encounter with the press. Robin drank too much while on a trip with Barney and almost stole a baby. (Nice fakeout, by the way.) Even The Mother drank too much, we learned, on New Year’s Eve 2021. Luckily for the latter, her loving husband Ted was there waiting with Barney’s secret elixir to make her feel better. And that was actually the episode’s theme. The elixir was less about what was in it and more about what was behind it: love.

Barney made the profound statement after being slightly roused from his stupor by a kiss between Robin and Lily. (Of course.) There was no secret potion, he said. There was no easy fix for the morning after you drink your feelings. The only thing someone can do for you on those mornings is be your friend and make you believe the worst is over. That, Barney said, was the secret. On the mornings he’d helped his friends with his secret drink, the feel-better fix was not in a glass; it was in his words. Whether he was telling Marshall that he could conquer the bar exam or telling Ted that there was a life after being left at the altar — Barney knew that the first sober moments after the drunkest ones in your life are when you need your friends the most. Why did he lead them on all those years, they asked? “I love you guys.” They love him too. And they showed it by doing what Barney had done for them all those years —  they lied to him.

After Barney had returned to an aware state, they told him that they made it through the wedding photos by pulling off Weekend at Barney’s. They armed him with sunglasses, posed him, and no one was the wiser, they said. Except the truth was that they had to cancel the photos and Robin’s dad kicked him in the Barnacles. Sore berries are better than broken spirits, am I right?

As I continue to be confronted with reminders that the clock is ticking down on our time with the gang, I was happy that this week’s show was a classic team-effort episode. It was somehow comforting. Also, how lovely to start off this final stretch of episodes with a sweet reminder that, to paraphrase Barney, I love these guys.

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