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How I Met Your Mother Recap: New York Is Killing Me

Last night's installment was the one HIMYM co-creator Craig Thomas described to Vulture as a “Cannonball Run/Amazing Race–style episode where our characters are all racing through the city ... It would look nothing like the show normally does. It would be more like a crazy little movie. It would be the most fun thing to do.” It sounded like a good idea then, and while the contrivance presented as motivation — Marshall's friend spots Woody Allen at a steakhouse downtown, and the gang races to get there first primarily to demonstrate their chosen method of transportation is superior — was commendable, it all added up to another underwhelming episode. And the worst part? We broke our streak of referencing seventies female-fronted rock bands in our recap headlines. Gil Scott-Heron, you'll have to do.

Before we get going, a few obligatory New York–specific squabbles: Sorry, Lily, you can't usually get service on subway platforms; sorry, Ted, no one takes a bus downtown unless they absolutely have to; and sorry, HIMYM, but we've lived here for four years and have never had, and hope never to have, the "what makes someone a real New Yorker" conversation. (That kind of thing is better left to Daily Intel questionnaires.) And with that said, let's go to the individual racers:

Lily: Park Slope native Lily sensibly chooses the subway, but gets tripped up by line maintenance even though she “speaks conductor” (ugh). As the Woody Allen–style title card tells us, Lily “needs the win” because she's been blaming herself for her and Marshall's inability to conceive just yet. First appearance of Maury Povich in the episode's ongoing "Maury Povich is most common celebrity sighted" gag. Thanks for being a good sport, Maury Povich! (By the way, our Maury Povich is David Byrne. We once saw him three times in one week, each time on a bike, wearing all white.)

Marshall: Equally as bummed about lack of conception is Marshall — but not saying as much to Lily until the episode-ending sentimental "everything is okay" conversation, of course — who chooses to run all the way downtown so as to prove his physical might against the machines. Marshall gets a personalized folk song recounting his anti-machine exploits, which won us over with the line “He brought the jukebox back to life with his Fonzarelli arms.”

Ted: The prof “needs the win” because he had 64 good reviews on GradeMyTeacher.net … and one bad one, which wrecks him. That is totally something that would bother Ted! He tries to make up for it by lecturing his bus-mates and accidentally ends up as the resident crazy bus person. Excellent.

Barney: Fakes a heart attack for the ambulance ride, but gets tripped up when he's taken to a hospital uptown. Gets Ranji to give him a ride, then eventually switches to pedicab, then eventually switches to pedaling the pedicab. Why does Barney need the win? He doesn't. Barney is awesome. Which means he can throw the game for …

Robin: Still devastated by Don leaving and being “literally eclipsed” (not literally) by a bubbly new co-anchor, Robin thinks it might be time to hang up this whole New York thing. But then she steals a cab, cries on the subway, kills a cockroach, and wins the race — after Barney surreptitiously tackles Ted and himself to the ground — meaning she should probably stay after all. Hooray!

Photo: Cliff Lipson/CBS