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How I Met Your Mother Recap: Super Bowls and Magic Phones

We were waiting for one more solid episode in a row from this season before declaring that HIMYM was back, and … we didn’t quite get it. Not to say that last night’s installment was a waste of time. Yeah, it wasn’t very funny, but it had an almost aggressively weird, slapdash vibe that we’ve never before seen from this show.

We’d chalk it up to the episode being pulled together on deadline or something, but that Super Bowl gag must have been pulled together a while ago. Oh, yes, that Super Bowl gag — the group’s gathered to watch the game when the camera pans to Barney in the crowd, with a huge sign presenting his phone number. (Points off for it being a “555” number. Anyone try to call?) By the way, a big welcome to all our new readers who saw the bit run during the actual Super Bowl, fell in love with the show, and are now seeking out a reliable, never hours-late recap. Thanks for joining us!

Barney’s phone starts blowing up, and he makes plans to meet the first girl at MacLaren’s (“based on her texts, she’s dirty, dyslexic, and wants to 96 me. Semi-colon, end-parenthesis.”) The girl shows up … and she’s normal and attractive! Of course she is, that makes perfect sense. And with that, Barney’s off.

Robin swoops in to take his spot in the booth and introduce her plotline:Hunky but jerky co-anchor Don has asked her out for Valentine’s Day! (Oh, right, this is the Valentine’s Day episode.) She had to say yes because it was on-air! But wait, has he, or is Robin just reading too much into an invite to a party because she’s secretly in love with the jerk? Yeah, it’s that.

Meanwhile, Ted is sick of dating (for the millionth time) and wants Lily and Marshall to “arranged-marriage” him. This sounds dumb, but was surprisingly effective, for two reasons: Ted seemed genuinely desperate, and it gave Marshall an excuse to run around the bar like a crazy person (technically, he was looking for a date for Ted). We love Jason Segel acting insane even more than we like Cobie Smulders acting conceited.

Meanwhile, Barney’s “magic phone” is actually a curse, because he can’t pick one girl (he’s getting hot lady bullfighters and Japanese gold-medal figure skaters, by the way) to sleep with. There’s a moral in there somewhere! A frantic Barney leaves it with Marshall and Lily and they, having totally struck out at the bar, use it to find Ted a V-Day date. Luckily, she’s perfect for Ted. (Kudos to the random Eastern European model hired to play Ted’s date for gamely fighting your way through that Caddyshack quote. That looked hard.)

But Ted’s become obsessed with the magic phone on his own, so he bails to meet random girls; Barney shows up to get his phone back, they fight, and Lily drops it into a pitcher of beer. Resolved! Also, Robin shows up at Don’s apartment and he’s doing the Naked Man, so she’s freaked out and runs away. But later on he’s wearing pants at work for the first time, so they’re probably going to end up together.

Did that not sound so weird just now? Okay, then, watch this clip: