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'How I Met Your Mother' recap: Newer, bigger, better

October 18, 2010 | 10:58 pm

Is new always better, as Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) likes to believe? That was the topic of debate on tonight's episode, in which Ted (Josh Radnor) discovered that The Arcadian was going to be torn down for his new GNB building. The historic hotel was once home to kings and queens, but now it's just home to drag queens, who seem to like Ted. Despite its decrepitude -– and the possibility that the building is infested with snakes, which GNB used to get the residents out -– Zoey (Jennifer Morrison), a little bit “crazy for a good cause” activist Ted meets, is desperate to save the building. And Ted wants to help. It has nothing to do with the fact that Zoey is a hot architecture nerd. Right.

Barney and the gang argue that by not revealing himself as the “Architect of Destruction” and trying to convince GNB to move the construction site, Ted is changing himself for Zoey. Like the time he pretended to be an adrenaline junkie because his date was one, or the time he dressed up as a wizard because “she was really hot." Ted rightfully counters that we all change a little bit for the person we like. Ted goes to join Zoey's protest, but a billboard of “architectual wizard” Ted Mosby outs him as an employee of GNB. To make things right, he presents a new design plan to Zoey that will incorporate the Arcadian's facade into the new GNB building. It's all looking very positive until Ted notices a ring on her finger. In a classic “How I Met Your Mother” twist, it turns out Zoey is married. Maybe she shouldn't have been spending time alone with a random guy in the middle of the night. Just a thought.

Now that smitten Ted knows the truth, he admits to himself that it is about Zoey, not the building, and tells her it's basically over for The Arcadian. You had to feel for Ted in that moment. Finally, he had met someone who seemed to be his perfect match. Beautiful, smart, passionate, geeky about architecture. Radnor and Morrison made a charming pair, and I'm pretty sure Morrison's smile can be used to light the new building. I also appreciated that Zoey wasn't played by some twentysomething, hot girl of the moment. The beauty of a pairing like Morrison and Radnor is that they look like they belong together and could start a life together. But since Zoey is married, a life together seems to be up in the air. She seems far from out of Ted's life –- she later egged his window -– so will they have more of a love/hate relationship? Will Ted persue her despite the husband or will he pine from the sidelines? Is Zoey lying about being married? I have no idea, but I'm looking forward to seeing where this relationship goes.

The other topic of debate in the episode centered around the question of, “Is bigger better?” Robin (Cobie Smulders) is hitting it off with Marshall's (Jason Segel) friend Max (Geoff Stults). They both love hockey, but Max has a small you-know-what. Marshall is horrified to hear this, as are Ted and Barney, and can't get the thought out of his head. “Max's penis is stuck in my brain like a splinter. Like a splinter-size splinter,” he bemoans. The guys can't believe Lily (Alyson Hannigan) and Robin talk about sex in such detail. Apparently, locker room sex talk is a myth and “Sex and the City” doesn't exist in the show's universe. Marshall is so traumatized, he can't stop overcompensating on Max's behalf during a hilarious, somewhat risque for 8 p.m. double date. When the talk turns to Max's small law firm, including its “small staff,” Marshall comes to his not-so-subtle defense. “I bet it's bigger than he thinks. And thick,” he says. He even pays for the meal because he just wants Max to be happy.

The trauma carries over to the bedroom, where Marshall can't stop imagining Lily and Robin sitting in the corner of the room critiquing his “performance.” With cosmos in hand and pithy, harsh truths, Lily and Robin seemed like lost cast members from “Sex and the City.” But it wasn't Max who should have been worried. In the locker room, he tells the guys he's going to have to break up with Robin because there's some weird thing she likes to do in the bedroom. After a pause, Barney and Ted agree that it's not for everyone. Well, this episode certainly raised a lot of questions about the characters' sex lives. Robin also revealed that one of the guys resembles Winston Churchill down there. Judging by Ted's surprised look, I'm thinking it's Barney.

Readers, what did you think of Morrison's debut as Zoey and her chemistry with Radnor? Were you surprised and/or disappointed that she's married? Did the Marshall/Lily/Robin/Max plot feel like the “HIMYM” of yesteryear (in a good way)? I thought so, although in the past, I think the show would have used an euphemism like it did with "eating sandwiches." Did you find the subplot too racy or was it just true to how real friends would talk?

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

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Photo: Zoey (Jennifer Morrison) and Ted (Josh Radnor) bond over architecture. Credit: Monty Brinton / CBS