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'How I Met Your Mother' recap: The cockamouse returns

May 3, 2011 |  7:30 am

There's a random B-plot from the first season of “How I Met Your Mother” that makes me laugh like no other: The half cockroach, half mouse creature known as the cockamouse. A while back, CBS tweeted that a beloved character from Season 1 was returning. I'm pretty sure they were referring to the cockamouse's appearance in this week's episode. It all started with Zoey (Jennifer Morrison) hiring Marshall (Jason Segel) to save the Arcadian, thereby turning Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) and Marshall against each other, which is a surefire way to make an already difficult character even harder to like. You don't mess with the group dynamic, Zoey.

After being harassed by Barney, Marshall declared war and began to sabotage his hookups. One example: Marshall posed as a doctor and alerted Barney to the fact that his crabs have super herpes in front of a girl! You know things have gone from playful to serious, though, when Marshall and Barney get into a physical fight, getting the entire group banned from their beloved McLarens. Robin (Cobie Smulders) and Lily (Alyson Hannigan) hatch a plan to ply them with specific types of alcohol to elicit certain reactions. Gin gets them fighting instead of giving each other the silent treatment. Whiskey makes the subtext into text. Marshall explains how his dad's death has made him interested in preservation. Barney points out his abandonment issues, which Marshall isn't helping by leaving him for Zoey's side. Then come the daiquiris, which makes them in love with how pretty they are, followed by tequila shots at McLarens, which makes them...I'm not exactly sure what. How about drunk out of their minds? But they patch it up over beer. Lily's celebratory champagne the night before was one drink too many. They blacked out and forgot about their reconciliation.

This was an interesting storyline for Marshall and Barney, although the alcohol aspect of it seemed almost extraneous and overdone. But I did like Robin's absinthe fantasies and Barney on red wine, which gives him sad clarity (“I'm a B+. … I'm OK with that.”). I don't think we've ever seen Marshall and Barney fight like this before. Ted (Josh Radnor) and Barney, yes, during the Robin fiasco, but Marshall and Barney have never had a falling out quite like this. The conflict seemed to rise naturally out of their own issues as emphasized by whiskey, but it was hard not to blame Zoey for it a little. Even harder so when she didn't appear to be very upset by what she was doing to their friendship.

Ted finally got frustrated too by the subject they never bring up. Instead of bringing Zoey to the fancy hotel he'd booked for their first getaway, he took her to the Arcadian. Genius, Ted! If she could survive a night in her precious Arcadian, he'd switch to her side. Zoey is so intent on letting go of the “chocolate” on the pillow, the people having sex and the general disgustingness of the place that Ted finally asks her why she cares so darn much about this place. And then Zoey breaks out the childhood story about growing up broke in the Arcadian and wanting Ted to like it because it's a part of her. “I love you,” he responds for the first time. It's sweet, but at this point in the game, it seems like too little, too late as a viewer. The romantic moment is broken up by the reappearance of the cockamouse, which has moved into the Arcadian and reproduced (“Good for it,” Ted says). Zoey is not as pleased to see the cockamouse –- they really showed a lot of it this time, yes? -– and darts out of the room, exclaiming, “You win!” In that moment, I loved the cockamouse even more for finally putting this disagreement to an end and putting Zoey in her place. But then Ted woke up the next morning and declared he was on Zoey's side. Shoot!

Other brief thoughts:

-– Lily's girl crush on Robin seems to be growing exponentially.
–- Marshall: “I'm still not ready to put my mouth on anything yet.” Lily: (sighs) “I know.”
–- It's always great to get Robin and Lily in scenes together, but the fight over the booth and perfecting the alcohol-induced reconciliation weren't my favorite parts of the episode. I think the booth story might have worked better if the guest actress had played it more funny than psychotic. It's just a booth, lady.

Showtrackers, are you glad Ted came around to Zoey's side or do you wish he'd let the cockamouse do its work? Are you upset that Zoey caused a rift between the guys? What was your favorite alcohol/reaction?


Complete “How I Met Your Mother” coverage on Showtracker

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

Photo: Zoey (Jennifer Morrison) and Ted (Josh Radnor) stay at the Arcadian. Credit: Eric McCandless / Fox