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How I Met Your Mother Recap: Up All Night

"Unpause" — When Barney drinks too much, Ted and Robin take advantage of him and get him to reveal secrets he’s been hiding for years. Meanwhile, Marshall does everything he can to avoid fighting with Lily, on the final season of, HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER, Monday, Jan. 20 (8:00-8:30 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.   Pictured: Neil Patrick Harris as Barney, Cobie Smulders as Robin,  Allyson Hannigan as Lily.

Only eight episodes left, and last night gives us reason to be a little sad about that. Not only was it good, but after half a season of Marshall on the road in a tiresome B-plot (and last week’s detour), the gang is finally together at Farhampton as anticipated, and so much is happening. We got a cartoonishly pregnant Mother (Cristin Milioti) and finally learned the names of the kids that have been listening to Ted for eight years; we know there might truly be a ring bear at the wedding and that Robin’s family is fabulously wealthy; we saw a lot of great callbacks to season one and even witnessed what might be the raunchiest scenes to date between Jason Segel and Alyson Hannigan.

Like I said last week, I love HIMYM most when it risks being serious, so my favorite development here was the fight between Marshall and Lily that we knew was coming. I’m so glad the writers didn’t play this for yucks. Much like season one’s “Come On,” which introduced us to their curious coping mechanism, there’s a lot at stake here, and similar to that episode, it doesn’t end well. That Marshall threw up Lily’s move to San Francisco took me by surprise. This issue hasn’t resurfaced since they got back together in season two, but it’s obviously the kind of history that would get dredged up during low moments. Hannigan did a great job expressing Lily’s pain at having her dreams dismissed as “a hobby” by Marshall, especially when he goes for the soft underbelly and asks her if she really would have come back to him if things had gone better in California. (Lawyered!) That was certainly harsh, but bringing up her abrupt move was a fair counterpoint. Also, in terms of selfishness, I’m surprised he didn’t mention her credit-card debt. Also, the judgeship does provide more security for their family.

Anyway, not since Lily’s move to San Francisco have we seen either of these two seriously wound each other. So who’s in the car? I thought Ranjit, but that’s not a reveal worth creating a mystery for, so of course I’m figuring it’s the Mother — the only other person Lily knows in Farhampton — but not sure where she got the luxury sedan, unless it’s a car service.

The organization here was tight. Everything harked back to Mrs. Mosby’s rule from season one: Nothing good ever happens after 2 a.m. At the time it proved true when Ted tried to hook up with Robin before breaking up with Victoria. Now it applies to Lily and Marshall, after his valiant attempt to stave off the inevitable with libido-killing thoughts of fingernail clippings, bugs, mouth-guard smells, and more bugs (all would do the trick). Is it me, or was the suggested nature of Marshall and Lily’s sexy times in bed pretty risqué? The two best lines of the night were also explicit: “Please excuse Medium-sized Fudge” and “Still-Big Fudge.”

Elsewhere, Barney is getting slammered — not Richard Dawson drunk, or big-plans-with-strangers drunk (big plans, period, is more like it), but truth-serum drunk. Probably the biggest intended bomb was Barney’s job—turns out his vague “please” of years past was more precise than we thought (Provide Legal Exculpation And Sign Everything). But also, his corrupt and illegal work has been part of a very long con dating back to his hippie past, when some bro in a suit stole his girlfriend. Odd that Barney’s never mentioned him before, even when he and Marshall worked together. In any case, I wasn’t as amused by this as I was by Ted’s outrage at having paid for everything when he dated rich Robin (“Subtle clues and the bar tab are two things you just don’t pick up”).

But most interesting, it looks like things move pretty fast for Ted and the Mother (and also that their vacation destinations are a little uninspired). In the HIMYM universe, it’s still spring of 2013, but by 2017, the couple will be expecting their second child, Luke, the one good thing that happened after 2 a.m. Ted got half of what he longed for back in season one, which was to name his kids after the Star Wars siblings. As for Penny: Do you think she is so named because if Ted hadn’t found that penny in season two, he might have made his flight to Chicago and gotten a job that would have prevented him from meeting the Mother? It’s the only reason I can think of for this decidedly plain name coming from someone as thoroughly pretentious as Ted.

“Unpause” continued the streak the final season had going before the holidays, so maybe “Slapsgiving 3” was the last of the throwaway episodes. Cliffhangers are uncommon for this series, but very welcome here. Even if we know there’s a happy ending in store, I’m genuinely curious about Lily’s whereabouts and the resolution of this argument.

What else I liked:

  • “Screw tomorrow, we go big tonight.” Yes, Marshall is just trying to postpone Ā confrontation, but getting tanked the night before the big day is a common wedding-weekend mistake, for the guests if not the bride and groom.
  • The souvenirs Marshall took from Ted’s house in Ohio. I was surprised this wasn’t milked further during the road trip, but happy to see the Shaker Heights Debate Team tote and all of its goodies. And if a stuffed turtle says, “I wove you, Mommy” in the first act … it’s bound to be stepped on and wake a sleeping Lily in the third.
  • The Canadian accent Robin lets slip when trying to hustle Jabba-drunk Barney to bed. Also, between his face and his likely hangover, things are not looking good for the groom.
  • The unscrambled Spice Channel.
  • Trevor Hudson.
  • “When you go off, there’s a kickback like a cannon.”
Photo: Ron P. Jaffe/FOX Television