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How I Met Your Mother Recap: Don the Brobe, Take the Broath

“The Broath”-- The gang, Barney (Neil Patrick Harris), Robin (Cobie Smulders), Lily (Alyson Hannigan) Marshall (Jason Segel), and Ted (Josh Radnor), on HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER, Monday, March 19 (8:00-8:30 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.    Photo: Eric McCandless/Fox ©2012 FOX Television. All Rights Reserved.

Did anyone else tune in to last night’s HIMYM and wonder if they had accidentally missed an episode? When Ted breezed into Barney’s apartment, donned a “brobe,” and took a “broath” not to tell the gang about Quinn’s profession — well, he seemed like a pretty good sport for someone who had just had his heart broken for the third or fourth time by the same woman and moved out of the apartment that he’d called home for the better part of the past decade. And as we later came to learn, he was being subjected to a rather asinine ruse to begin with (creators Bays and Thomas wrote this episode and we’ve found that they tend to favor Barney, often overlooking the limitations of his character as of late).

This was a decent episode, but one that relied on previously successful gimmicks to fill out a pretty thin plot. Starting with Barney’s “Ted Evelyn Mosby” rib, followed by the intervention, moving on to Historical Barney, showing some “sandwich eating” — it was a whirlwind of past highlights that, when first introduced, were immensely clever. The only new running joke that we’re coming to regularly appreciate is Robin’s “Dammit, Patrice!” rage. It’s the result of the slow build of unnecessary hostility toward her co-worker Patrice, whose sincere kindness, and perhaps mild girl crush, offends Robin’s every sensibility.

But back to the broath. A few episodes ago, Quinn (a.k.a. Karma) taught Barney a lesson at the Lusty Leopard by pretending to verge on genuine emotion only to demand more money every time a song ended. At the time, it seemed like poetic justice. Since then, it’s been recast by Ted thusly: “Quinn was a stripper who had swindled Barney out of cash.” Really? If by swindled, you mean charged him for the pleasure of her company while she was working, and working, in this case, meaning stripping, then sure, she swindled him. It’s the kind of thing the gang would normally laugh at, thinking Barney got a taste of his own medicine. Instead, when Ted immediately broke his broath, they treated this news super-seriously, as if they needed to save Barney from making the worst mistake of his life.

Now, we should have known something was up at Quinn’s apartment when Barney asked if he could go to the bathroom, using affectionate nicknames like “Bunnyface.” But Barney’s persona is so prone to exaggeration that it’s hard to know a put-on from a convenient plotline. The best moment from this scene was Marshall’s eagerness to tell sex stories. Having only been with Lily, he can’t brag without oversharing: “Last year, I go bareback with the same slut, she gets pregnant, bitch is even hornier!” Meanwhile, Lily, the masterful snoop, discovered that Barney was taking Quinn to Hawaii, and the four of them decided that Quinn was using Barney for his money. This was kind of insulting, actually. First of all, they clearly saw how nice her apartment was. It didn’t look like Quinn needed Barney. Second, can Barney ever have a legitimate claim to being used? Karma’s a bitch, which is exactly what the gang seemed to think, except by “karma” they meant Quinn.

So they stage an intervention — excuse us, per Marshall, a Quinntervention. He demanded loyalty to this and other similar puns throughout. And who should walk in just as Barney was getting an earful about what an unsuitable mate Quinn is but Quinn herself: She bought those tickets for Barney, it was supposed to be a surprise, but Barney and his friends were too judgmental about her profession. Barney shamed Ted for breaking the broath, citing a version of ancient Broman history where Brutus turned on Caesar, but Caesar bested his enemies and invented a salad.

The B-plot here was Robin and Ted’s separate schemes to get Quinn’s apartment. He’d been living in the university dorms across the hall from sandwich-eating college students (Ned, Martin, and Milly). She was shacking up with Patrice. In light of recent events, didn’t Robin owe it to Ted to step aside and let him have this one? Well, that’s what he thought, too. Robin countered with her own hard-luck story, which wasn’t all that hard luck, except for the part where she thought she was going to be fired.

Anyway, in order to make it up to Barney, the gang took a broath that included a vow to prevent him from ever “getting up on a fatty.” (Bays and Thomas love this joke too much.) The ritual also demanded that Robin and Lily kiss, as well as Marshall and Ted. Another long-running and not yet overused joke is Lily’s vague attraction to Robin, which was alluded to twice in this episode, the second time in Lily’s overly amorous affection. Segel and Radnor, meanwhile, looked like they had a hard time keeping a straight face.

And the jig is up. The whole scheme, from Barney’s hyperdeferrals to Quinn’s controlling tendencies to the interrupted intervention, was merely a ruse to sabotage any attempt by the gang to preemptively judge Quinn. Naturally, this seemed far-fetched. It’s never clear that Marshall, Lily, Ted, and Robin would have judged Quinn as harshly as they did had she not behaved like such a tyrant. The whole thing seemed foolish, doubly so when Quinn said she would only stop stripping if she got married. What sense does that make? Either she loves her job regardless of her relationship status, or she loves it as long as she’s not in love, but why specifically does she need to be married? Obviously, this is designed to stoke speculation that she might be Barney’s wife, which seems unlikely given the fact that the actress, Becki Newton, has joined the cast of Bays and Thomas’s new fall series.

The important reveal here was that Robin and Ted aren’t going to see each other “for a long time.” As we could have predicted, Robin wasn’t fired but promoted to co-host after her New Year’s Eve save from a couple of months ago. She can now afford an apartment on Central Park West (no, she couldn’t), so Ted can have Quinn’s apartment, and she and Ted can go back to normal. Except they can’t, and when they say they’ll see each other soon, Future Ted tells us the opposite was true. It’s possible Cobie Smulders is being let out of the season early to allow her to focus on The Avengers, which will involve a “relocation” for her character, à la Tokyo from several seasons back. Or maybe the two just won’t cross paths for a while. There’s been a few misleading cliff-hangers this season, but we’re pretty curious to see what happens next.

Photo: ERIC MCCANDLESS/cbs