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How I Met Your Mother Recap: Ring in the New

"Ring Up" -- Robin (Cobie Smulders, center) must adjust to the power of the bling, on HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER, Monday, Jan. 21 (8:00-8:30 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Cliff Lipson/CBS © 2013 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Though this week did not push along any major plot points, it was a good, solid episode with a few well-timed laughs and little reminders of the different relationship dynamics each person in the group shares. We’re still getting used to the engaged Barney and Robin; it seems like we’re going to keep seeing the various ways they are changing for (or because of?) each other. Robin seems to have lost her brassy edge in favor of a willingness to give love a chance, while Barney is, as expected, wrestling with monogamy, triggered this week by Ted’s new hookup.

When Ted starts dating a 20-year-old woman after she sells him a leather cuff, the reaction from the gang is (predictably) straight ridicule, since she cannot even enter the bar. Ted actually realizes how much he isn’t clicking with this woman a lot earlier than we expected him to, but he's urged to have sex with her so that Barney, detoxing from his one-night stands, can experience “proxy banging.” When Ted finally shows him a picture of Carly, it’s a big surprise — the woman Barney pushed Ted into pursuing is actually Barney’s half-sister. He tries to arrange a marriage on the fly for them based on his newfound disgust for one-night stands, which only serves to reveal that his detox is complete.

Lily and Marshall keep trying to figure out how they can fit sex into their lives as new parents, and they give role-playing a spin when Lily gets turned on by Marshall’s newly inherited leather cuff. It’s always funny to see Lily flashback to her weirdly dark Gothic place, and we thought the story she spun around this situation was great — someone who “rides a motorcycle without a helmet, has a wallet chain and neck tattoos, and does a little drug-dealing on the side.”

In the meantime, Robin is wrestling with the invisibility caused by her engagement ring; she no longer gets free coffee or bagels, and she cannot even get a beer at the bar. Lily and Marshall, our relationship veterans, help Robin realize that the love and attention of one person is better than any random compliments she may get from strangers, and all is well when Robin realizes she can just ask Barney to get her drinks.

What We Liked:

  • Though it is definitely passé to make fun of hipsters, the way Ted described a night out with Carly was hilarious. We particularly laughed at the “flash mob that broke out in front of a line of Korean Mexican food trucks in Williamsburg,” the “D.J. from Dubai spinning at an abandoned loading dock in Bushwick,” “a club in Chinatown somehow located beneath a manhole cover” where all of the attendees were actual toddlers, and the “pointlessly weird” diet of kimchee cupcakes with bacon frosting. That Ted refused to date this woman for long was a nod to his figuring out that he’s not as cool as he thinks, but also that when the Mother finally comes along, he may be ready for something more permanent.  
  • When Robin removes her ring and the Gollum-like voice-over says, “You’re not precious,” we laughed.
  • Ted’s dream journal, and all of the tiny ways his personality shines through in this episode. From the insistence that Barney not close the door all the way when he leaves to his finally acquiescing only when he discovers that Carly has an R2D2 ringtone, it is nice to see old dorky Ted back on the scene.
  • The running joke about whether Barney did or did not sleep with Ted’s mother. It was nice to see a little smarm from Barney in the midst of all this reform.
  • The musical number that presented Robin as a type of Snow White. “She’s exaggerating to make a point!”
  • That Marshall’s fantasy about Lily is seeing her in a pair of elastic-waist mom jeans. We love how different they are, even if this did cross over into almost creepy territory (was he a little too close to talking about his own mother here?).

What We Didn’t Like:

  • It was really weird that Barney would push for Carly and Ted to get married, even though it was used to illuminate the completion of his detox. We know he’s engaged; are we supposed to accept that it also means he’s become that conservative?
  • After Lily’s confession about motherhood last week, it was surprising to see that she and Marshall were back to normal, albeit with a little bit of sexual struggle. We suppose that’s to be expected but were hoping for a little more of this continued depth from their corner.
  • This episode mostly felt like filler; it wasn’t terrible, but we’re eager to move the story along and see how the Mother will change the scene.
Photo: Cliff Lipson/CBS