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'How I Met Your Mother': Smoke up

Smoking is bad for you, people. It makes you tense and angry for no reason. You can't climb stairs without losing your breath. And, if you're like Lily (Alyson Hannigan), you start to sound a lot like Harvey Fierstein. Yes, readers, smoking is really bad. I hope you got that from “Last Cigarette Ever” because I'm not sure the show could have made it any clearer.

The slightly filler episode revealed that the gang had been smoking on and off the whole time the show has been on, which elicited a lot of stock “What?!”s from the future kids of Ted (Josh Radnor). Apparently, learning your dad and his friends were smokers is more shocking than all the sex stories he's inappropriately sharing. When the episode flashed back to Robin (Cobie Smulders) and Marshall (Jason Segel) smoking in previous years, I half-wondered whether they would digitally insert cigarettes into future DVDs. There's been talk of removing them from old movies, so why not add them to old TV shows? You could sell them like hotel rooms – smoke-free or smoker DVD sets!

The only fun thing to come out of the smoking storyline was Marshall walking into his own flashback so he could kick his 13-year-old self as he's about to smoke for the first time. The episode ended with Marshall giving his younger self a picture of Lily, which the pubescent Marshall took into his tent to, well ... I also enjoyed Marshall's polite recap of how he told off his boss.

“We had a fairly intense screaming match where I suggested that you take your head and store it within yourself in a fashion that, while space-saving, might limit its exposure to sunshine,” he recalled nervously.

I appreciated that the gang didn't give up the cigarettes completely until meaningful moments in their lives. For Lily, it was when she started trying to get pregnant. For Marshall, it was the day his son was born. (This is the first we've heard of Marshall and Lily's future family, right?) For Ted, it was two weeks after he started dating his kids' mother, so she must be a nonsmoker. We only got dates set far into the future for Robin and Barney (Neil Patrick Harris), which made me wonder if they're throwaway dates or if they actually had significance, but it's too early to reveal what happened those days.

Meanwhile, in the non-filler portion of the episode, the show introduced Robin's new coworker and future love interest, Don (Benjamin Koldyke). Don doesn't much care about the job after bouncing around from one local news show to the next. He's a throw-your-tighty-whities-to-the-wind kind of guy. He is the "one half-drunk slob" viewer of “Come On, Get Up, New York!”  Robin's initial excitement about getting to work with a real anchor quickly grows into frustration when she discovers he couldn't care less. But the tempestuous relationship, which executive producer Carter Bays called a “slow play,” will turn to romance eventually. Ted reveals in a voice-over that Robin and Don are dating in three months. I thought Koldyke did a good job at playing a half-naked lush of a news anchor, and he has that handsome, but not too handsome, square look that many news anchors seem to have. But, Don, Robin definitely has what it takes to be a network anchor.

Readers, what did you think of Don? Were you surprised to learn that Ted and the gang were smokers all this time? Do you know where I can get Robin's turtle necklace or tiered trench coat because they were cute?

– Vlada Gelman (follow my TV musings on Twitter at @stayingin)

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'How I Met Your Mother': 'Big shake-ups' are in store, says executive producer Carter Bays

Complete 'How I Met Your Mother' coverage on Showtracker
 
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