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'How I Met Your Mother' recap: 'That did not end well'

February 22, 2011 |  7:00 am

95840_D0167b “Garbage Island” was quite a funny episode that moved along the character and relationship arcs in a very interesting way. I found myself laughing a lot while also being intrigued at some of the stories the episode was obviously setting up for the remainder of this season.

Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) catches feelings. Barney can't say Nora's (Nazanin Boniadi) name without smiling, but he refuses to admit he's smitten. “She had a nice face. Her booty was in place. But Barney don't chase,” he says. The man doth protest too much, and Robin (Cobie Smulders) is on to him. She encourages him to call Nora and then challenges him by accepting his offer to “throw her one.” When Barney shows up at her place, she gives up. “You're never going to change,” she says. “I'm done trying to help you.” But Barney's just there to get Nora's number, not sleep with Robin, who tells him, “Go get her.” Now, it's not like Barney's never had feelings before. He clearly had them for Robin, but that relationship didn't end so well. Maybe they weren't ready for it. Maybe now is the right time for commitment for Barney. It's also interesting that Robin is pushing him so hard toward Nora, and her line about him never changing is very telling. Obviously, Robin wants her friend to be happy, but I also think it's about Barney becoming the kind of man she wishes he was when he with her. She wants him to grow up. And for all the Barney and Robin lovers like me, hopefully, grow up into someone she could one day get back together with. Because I think a lot of character growth would have to happen first before Robin and Barney could go down that road again.

Marshall (Jason Segel) and Lily (Alyson Hannigan) put parenthood on hold? It certainly seems like that's the case, unless they accidentally get pregnant. Lily is so horny, she can't keep her hands off Marshall, but he's become preoccupied with saving the planet. Working as a corporate stooge at GNB (“At least I know I'm making the world -- a place,” he says) is not the man Marshall wanted his father to see him become. And having a family means he'll be stuck at GNB. Lily tells him it's OK. He should go save the planet, and they'll have kids later. So it looks like the show has found a way to get around the baby issue for the time being, and I'm fine with it. If I had to pick, I'd much rather see Marshall fulfilling his dream to become an environmental lawyer, something he's been talking about since Season 1. Not to mention, it lets the “HIMYM” bar adventures continue sans crying baby or strangely disappearing baby (a.k.a. “Friend's” Emma). Then again, the show could pull a bait and switch and end the season with the twosome expecting.

Zoey (Jennifer Morrison) is not the mother. Duh. The episode starts with Ted (Josh Radnor) in a Hong Kong airport in 2021. He runs into Wendy – long time no see! -- who reveals eventually that she married and had kids with Marshall's former co-worker Meeker, who got fired because of Marshall's green initiative proposal. He'd gone to the bar to confront Marshall when he ran into a frustrated Wendy, who was struggling with the heavy bottles she now had to carry to recycling because of Marshall. (“HIMYM” has to be the most pro-fate, it's-meant-to-be, everything-happens-for-a-reason show ever.) She asks him if he's still with Zoey. “That did not end well,” he reveals before beginning the story of how he met his wife. Wendy interrupts him because they have to take off. Damn it, Wendy.

Even though we didn't learn the mother's identity, we did find out a lot of interesting information. Within 10 years, Ted will be married with two kids and, of course, Zoey is not the mother. (Neither is Wendy, obviously, for those still holding out hope.) In fact, it sounds like we're in for a pretty terrible breakup. I wonder if their own personalities will tear them apart. Ted tells the Captain (Kyle MacLachlan) he never had anything in common with Zoey. But Ted thinks he and Zoey do. That's how they first bonded –- over their mutual interest in architecture. But I think Ted fails to see they have different attitudes and approaches to life. Ted is sensible, pragmatic, reliable and romantic. Zoey is free-spirited, unpredictable, challenging and married The Captain. Their relationship is not nearly as match made in heaven as Ted thinks it is. And that's on top of Ted's realization this week that he's the bad guy in Zoey and the Captain's marriage. He “stole” Zoey. “Sometimes things need to fall apart to make way for better things,” Zoey tells him. She's talking about herself and the Captain, but she could just as easily be prophetically talking about herself and Ted.

Favorite funny bits:
– Barney's uncanny ability to guess how long it's been since someone's had sex, which he uses on Lily and Robin, who's having a dry spell of 18 weeks. But Barney, Robin doesn't need you to throw her one. She could have any guy she wanted.
– The lispy voice-over on the Garbage Island program Marshall was watching. Did anyone recognize who it was? The video also led to some funny bits: Lily mimicking the voice-over (Her response when Marshall didn't respond to her advances: “Cwap.”); a suddenly awake Lily yelling, “Is it over? I call on top!”
– Lily's inability to keep her hands off Marshall at the bar and then forcing Marshall to cup her breast was a great bit of physical comedy from Hannigan. It's also telling of how comfortable the cast must be together by now.
– The reveal of Ted the Scoundrel with mustache and no shirt.
– A GNB employee informing Marshall's boss he couldn't fire him because his dad just died. Totally the kind of reluctant empathy I expect from GNB.
– “Who is this flower child and what has he done with my lionhearted friend Ted Mosby?” If this is the last we see of him, then I'm going to miss the Captain because Kyle MacLachlan is hilarious in a deranged kind of way in this role.
– Holograms!

Readers, what do you think is ahead for the gang this season? Is Barney going to settle down? Is Robin just pushing him toward Nora to bury her own feelings for him? Will Lily and Marshall get pregnant? And what's going to break up Ted and Zoey?

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

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Photo: Cobie Smulders as Robin. Credit: Cliff Lipson / CBS.