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'How I Met Your Mother' recap: Out with the old, in with the new

May 17, 2011 |  7:30 am

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Oh, "How I Met Your Mother," you tease. Although the outcome of the Lily-and-Marshall (Alyson Hannigan and Jason Segel) story line was pretty obvious and I felt confident that Ted (Josh Radnor) would not get back together with Zoey (Jennifer Morrison), the show really did keep me guessing about Robin (Cobie Smulders) and Barney (Neil Patrick Harris). The two of them spent most of the episode trying to stop Ted's and Zoey's reconciliation, but their journey also led them to reexamine their own relationship. On the cab ride to Brooklyn, they mused over how horrible a couple Ted and Zoey were. "Almost as bad as us," Barney said. "We were a mess," Robin replied. She could see why Ted might want to go back to Zoey. "No matter how bad things go"  -- a loaded pause -- "Ted really did love Zoey there for a minute there, didn't he?" Ted was clearly a substitute for Barney and Zoey was Robin, but it was still really wonderful to see such a vulnerable moment from Robin. Barney smiled before replying, "Yeah, he did. And she loved him too, didn't she?" You bet she did.

That might have been one of my favorite Barney-and-Robin scenes. It was a nice acknowledgment of their relationship -– almost a validation -– and featured unusually soft and emotional interplay for the pair. It's not often we get to see them discussing their feelings so openly (even if they didn't use their own names) and simply. Remember how complicated it was when they dated? This was simple and lovely. I wish we'd seen more of this and less of the "mess."

Alas, the foreshadowing didn't bode well for Robin and Barney, whose new motto is, "New is always better." When they finally tackled Ted to the ground, Robin tried to persuade him not to go into the coffee shop to meet Zoey. "The future is scary, but you can't run back to the past because it's familiar," she said, but she was looking at Barney, who added, "It's a mistake." No, sometimes, it really isn't, you guys! Get it together, please! But then Barney ran into Nora, who is also part of his past. So does that mean old is better? Or are they doomed if they get back together? Also of interesting note, Nora was wearing a sundress. "And here I thought it was too late for sundresses," Barney said. "It's never too late," she replied. You know who else was wearing a sundress? Robin at the beginning of the season. Is that another hint it's not too late for Robin and Barney? Will Nora make Barney realize he's meant to be with Robin? Is she the bride in the mystery wedding reveal that Barney's getting married. Whoever it is, Barney's getting married! Talk about huge character growth. I'm not quite sure Robin is in a place yet where she wants to get married. Maybe next season, which executive producer Craig Thomas said will feature more Robin, will show us her journey in getting there.

Meanwhile, Lily was dealing with a case of food poisoning, which led Marshall to believe he'd seen his future. He was prepared to spew during a job interview, but instead, he made it to the next day without throwing up. Then Lily announced -– no surprise -– that she was pregnant. The outcome of the story line was way too obvious, but Marshall's reaction was sweet. In this case, new is definitely better, especially for Marshall, who's had a very rough year. Hope he got that job, because he's going to need the money.

Other brief thoughts:

-– Fun guest stars in this episode: Dave Foley and Chi McBride, who's always good when you need gruff/funny/anything.

-– Robin to Barney and Ted: "I dated you both and neither of you is good at pressing or finding the button." Also loved Segel's delivery of "Why shouldn't I eat the soup?"

-– All the more reason Robin and Barney belong together: Neither was listening to Ted's "sappy romantic crap" about his first date with Zoey.

–- Lots of callbacks in this episode. In addition to the wedding, Robin's and Barney’s relationship and the sundress, we also got Ranjit and Lily's conductor-speak from "Subway Wars."

-– Did they blow up the "Bones" diner?

Showtrackers, what did you think of the finale and the wedding reveal? Do you think Robin or Nora is the bride? Are you excited that Lily is finally pregnant? What are your hopes for next season?

RELATED:

Complete "How I Met Your Mother" coverage on Show Tracker

-- Vlada Gelman
Twitter.com/@VladaGelman

Photo: Barney (Neil Patrick Harris), left, and Robin (Cobie Smulders), right, try to stop Ted (Josh Radnor). Credit: Ron P. Jaffe / CBS

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