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'How I Met Your Mother' recap: Love and Honey

February 7, 2011 | 10:53 pm

With Marshall (Jason Segel) still in Minnesota, the gang was forced to tell him about recent events over the phone. Robin (Cobie Smulders) called first – guess the writers heard my plea for more Marshall/Robin friendship scenes – and started recounting the latest development in Ted (Josh Radnor) and Zoey's (Jennifer Morrison) relationship. Zoey had offered to set Ted up with her cousin, who the gang refers to as Honey (Katy Perry) because every naïve thing that comes out of her mouth – “Long story story, I'm going to be on 'Lost'!” – makes them reply, “Oh, honey.” Ted decides not to take advantage of the girl and lets Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) do that instead. He couldn't go home with her because he's in love with Zoey, not gay, as Marshall's eavesdropping mother screams into the phone. I really enjoyed the running gag with Marshall's family eavesdropping on his calls. His brother Marcus calling Ted a wuss was perfectly in Minnesota, big brother style. A guy like Marcus, who tricks his brother with an offer of Hertz Donuts, would definitely call Ted a wuss after Ted recounted how he knew he was in love with Zoey. For me, however, it was a lovely reminder of the romantic Ted that's sometimes missing from the show. Just grazing Zoey's fingers was enough to make him drop the ketchup bottle and bring back the hopeless romantic.

Ted can't just ignore Zoey because she's friends with the group now, Robin argues, and they like her. I'm not sure I buy that Zoey is friends with everyone, even after the Thanksgiving episode. She seems more like a friend of a friend that you hang out with when you're all together. But I'll go with it. Ted tells her they can't be friends anymore because Lily (Alyson Hannigan) hates her. Lily passes the hate blame onto Robin, who tells Zoey that Marshall hates her. But then Honey spills the beans to Marshall that Zoey and the Captain are getting divorced. And Barney had told Marshall about how Zoey hugged him after she found out Ted didn't go home with Honey.

From hundreds of miles away, over the phone, Marshall plays matchmaker. While Ted is lying to Zoey that he hates her and listing all the things he hates, Marshall calls Zoey and then Ted. I loved the way this was played. We didn't hear what Marshall said. We only saw and heard Ted and Zoey's dawning, relieved reactions to what we assume was Marshall telling them the truth about their feelings for each other and the divorce. There was no big declaration or spectacle. It was refreshing. A neighbor peeked her head out and reported back to Marshall that they were kissing.

Judging from the comments left on previous recaps, Zoey has met with a lot of mixed reaction, which I certainly understand. The character and the actress haven't always felt like they naturally fit into the show. And we know Zoey's not the mother, so some may view her as yet another roadblock to getting that answer. But this episode was the most I ever liked the character and Morrison in the role. Morrison was much better suited to the emotional scenes required of her this week than some of the comedy she's had to do in previous episodes.

Not as enjoyable for me was Katy Perry as Honey. The doe eyes and little girl voice acting, if it can be called that, were too much for me. I was particularly disappointed that Barney's emotional breakdown about his father was wasted on a one-time guest star. Imagine how much more impact it would have had if Barney had opened up to Robin and shared the moment with her. After all, it was Robin who was there when he found out his uncle was really his dad. But I did like that it was Honey's comeback – “Who's your daddy?” – that got Barney to crack.

Other brief thoughts:
– I was worried that Marshall being in Minnesota was going to make things difficult for the writers or break up the group dynamic, but the phone calls worked very well as a connector. And Segel actually had more to do separate from the gang than he sometimes does while with them.
– Hurray for the return of the Intervention, which Ted called for himself!
– Robin burning the food because she thought the oven was Celsius got a laugh out of me. Oh, Canada jokes.
– Marshall explaining the Ted and Zoey situation to his mom and brother via cork board, string and stand-in cards was amusing and a nice way to cap off the eavesdropping bit.

Readers, what did you think of Ted and Zoey coming together? Did Perry impress you? Are you anxious for Marshall to get back to New York?

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

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Photo: Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) opens up to Honey (Katy Perry). Credit: Sonja Flemming / CBS.