Episode-by-Episode Commentary & Summary

by Hayley Igarashi

This chapter is a free excerpt from Quicklet on How I Met Your Mother Season 3 (TV Show).

Robin: “We always do this. We spend an hour arguing about where to eat, and we end up here anyway. I haven’t eaten for two days. Can we please, for the love of God, just order something now?”

Episode 1: Wait for It

Ted and Robin have spent the summer dealing with their break-up in quite different ways: Ted moped around his apartment, and Robin took off for a lavish vacation to Argentina.

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Robin: “We always do this. We spend an hour arguing about where to eat, and we end up here anyway. I haven’t eaten for two days. Can we please, for the love of God, just order something now?”

Episode 1: Wait for It

Ted and Robin have spent the summer dealing with their break-up in quite different ways: Ted moped around his apartment, and Robin took off for a lavish vacation to Argentina.

Robin and Ted broke up last season, but the actual consequences of their break-up really drive the third season. How will the gang function now? Ted and Robin clearly needed their space during the summer, but it seems difficult to imagine them sharing beers every night with the gang like old times. It’s not like that’s a preferable set-up for most former couples.

Robin returns to New York City with Gael, a hot guy with a limited grasp of the English language and a healthy appreciation for natural living.

The bane of any ex-boyfriend, Gael, the Adonis of rebound guys, arrives to make Ted’s life difficult. Who knows if Robin really intended for Gael to make Ted feel so inferior, but it’s not relationship rocket science to see that a guy like him would prove frustrating for a recent ex-boyfriend.

In an attempt to “win” the break-up, Ted picks up Amy, a wild, tattooed girl who Barney dislikes, at Maclaren’s and spends a crazy night with her before blacking out.

Ted essentially does what any jealous, unhappy ex would do — he finds himself a rebound fling of his very own. In a similar fashion to the way Robin’s rebound was a complete 180 from Ted, Ted’s new girl, Amy, is about as far from sensible, Canadian Robin as possible.

He wakes up the next morning and, with the help of his friends, discovers the butterfly tramp stamp tattoo Amy apparently helped him get the night before.

The thing about wild, party girls is that they can have a negative reaction on usually non-wild guys like Ted. Perhaps Ted should consider himself lucky that all he ended up with was a tattoo. Interestingly enough, however, this silly anecdote about how Ted got a tramp stamp actually is a crucial plot point that will eventually lead our protagonist to his next serious relationship.

Ted confronts Robin for being over their break-up too fast, but Robin admits that she spent the first few days of her Argentinian vacation crying and only turned to Gael because she missed Ted so much.

In a nice, mature moment, Ted and Robin lay a solid foundation for a future of moving on and re-establishing their relationship as platonic friends. Obviously, the hurt is still there, but having both of them admit that to each other seems like a step in the right direction.

In a brief episode epilogue, Marshall sends Barney to a website called slapcountdown.com, prompting Barney to scream.

This delightfully connects to last season’s “Slap Bet” episode in which Marshall now, by the permission of slap bet commissioner Lily, gets to slap Barney five times. He’s already used up two of the slaps, but his ingenious website introduces a new dimension to the story leading up to slap #3.

Episode 2: We’re Not From Here

Marshall struggles writing a loving letter to Lily for their death folders, only to discover that Lily’s only personal note is a reminder to cancel Vogue and Elle.

This introduces the season’s more fun theme (at least way more fun than watching Ted and Robin struggle to remain friends post-break-up) of watching Marshall and Lily go through the ups and downs of newlyweds.

Robin has trouble reconciling New York City Robin with her hippie Vacation Robin self, a difficulty only intensified by the arrival of Gael’s new friends.

The Canadian Robin that everyone knows and loves sort of seemed to die in Venezuela, but it doesn’t take long for her hippie side to clash with her New York roots. The more Robin remembers who she used to be, the more Gael’s natural ways and hippie friends grate on her.

Inspired by the female attention that Gael gets, Ted and Barney pretend to be out-of-towners and score dates with Colleen and Lindsay, who promise to show them the sights of the city.

Finally, Barney gets the wingman he always wanted. Eager to distance himself from his relationship with Robin, Ted actually begins to embark on more and more misadventures with Barney, many of them of a less than honest nature.

Their stunt goes badly, however, after Colleen and Lindsay admit that they are really from New Jersey, a dealbreaker for Ted.

Perhaps a little strange for those of us who don’t live in New York City, Ted continually demonstrates a loathing for New Jersey and its inhabitants. Apparently, it’s fine to lie to girls with the intent to sleep with them, but it’s wrong to pretend that you’re from New York City when you’re really from New Jersey.

After trying to put up with Gael and their hippie house guests, Robin finally snaps, breaking up with Gael and throwing out the rest of his friends by brandishing her gun.

Canadian/New York City Robin returns! Her trusty gun, a possession that the rest of the gang has never even fully come to terms with, is the perfect motivator to both physically oust her unwanted house guests and psychologically leave Vacation Robin behind. Gael’s also out of her life now, but their relationship always seemed doomed (possibly because he was played by Enrique Iglesias).

Episode 3: Third Wheel

Ted has a big problem on his hands: two former sorority sisters at Maclaren’s are both into him — what’s a down-on-his-luck guy to do?

Have the tables turned for Ted? After a string of bad dating experiences, Ted is in the rare situation of having one too many girls into him.

Barney is both jealous and excited that Ted has an opportunity to “go for the belt,” especially after an attack of nerves once prevented his own chance at a threesome.

“Go for the belt” is Barney’s own term for having a threesome, and Barney actually has a physical belt to give to whoever achieves the threesome first. In Barney’s own mind, the owner of the belt should, obviously, be himself.

Meanwhile, Robin goes out on a date with a handsome doctor, but she refuses to shave her legs prior to meeting him to prevent herself from sleeping with him too fast.

In her own, not as dramatic way, Robin is also trying to get back into the dating game. But while Ted’s end game is to sleep with a girl (or girls, in this case), Robin is actively trying to prevent that eventuality.

Robin, however, immediately regrets this decision and sloppily attempts to shave her legs in a restaurant bathroom before she slips and knocks herself out.

This slapstick scene gives Robin the rare chance to exercise her silly acting skills. Using butter as a substitute for shaving cream, Robin’s big night with her handsome doctor is clearly doomed.

After an epic struggle to secure Ted’s success at a threesome, Barney, Marshall, and Lily are disappointed that Ted refuses to reveal, in a somewhat gentlemanly move, what happened that night.

This whole episode seems a bit offbeat when you consider that Future Ted is supposed to be relaying these stories to his kids. Not only is telling your kids about your possible threesome odd, it has no observable connection to his meeting his wife. But to his credit, Ted doesn’t brag about it to his friends, even though it’s pretty certain that he did indeed earn the belt.

Episode 4: Little Boys

Lily sets Robin up with George, the father of Doug, one of her kindergarten students.

This is a surprising turn of events since Robin’s dislike of children was actually a major factor in her break-up with Ted. Nevertheless, Lily seems confident that the single dad and Robin will get along.

Robin is surprised when she hits it off with six-year old Doug, but she is dismayed when the boy draws a picture of his “new mommy” that looks disturbingly like Robin.

The exact thing Robin wanted to avoid happens: the kid gets way too attached way too fast. Robin, at this point, isn’t sure if she ever wants to have kids, let alone be a child’s new mother right away.

Over at Maclaren’s, Ted and Barney make a bet to see who can sleep with a random girl named Stacey first.

Ted’s dating antics with Barney seem to get worse and worse as the season progresses. The romantic guy who once stole a blue french horn for Robin now has sunk to Barney’s level.

Barney miraculously wins the bet by tricking Ted into dating and then dumping Stacey, leaving the field wide open for him to move in.

Of course, no one can do complex/sleazy plans better than Barney. Ted may think he’s up to a immature bet over a woman, but he proves to be no where near Barney’s level of deviousness. Poor Stacey never has any idea that she was just a pawn in their game.

Robin realizes she must break-up with both George and Doug now that things are getting too serious for her, but instead she is dumped by Doug, who actually drew the picture of Brooke, George’s new girlfriend.

Another potential relationship fails for Robin as well -- though I, for one, was surprised at George. You would have thought the nice guy that Lily described would not be bringing home multiple girlfriends home to his six-year old son.

Episode 5: How I Met Everyone Else

Ted brings his new girlfriend to the bar to meet his friends, and a fake story about their meeting (which actually took place during a World of Warcraft game) prompts the gang to recall how they all met each other.

How I Met Your Mother began when the gang was already together, with the exception of Robin. Ted’s nameless girlfriend gives us an opportunity to peek back in time.

Lily met Marshall during their freshman year of college when she just had a strange urge to seek help for her broken stereo from room 110, Marshall and Ted’s room.

Fans of the show are already aware of this story, but it’s fun getting to see young Lily and Marshall meeting eyes for the first time. Their mutual attraction was clearly apparent right from the very beginning.

Ted met Marshall on the first day of college, opening the door on his future best friend smoking marijuana.

Future Ted actually tells his kids that Marshall was “eating a sandwich” instead, but it’s clear from Marshall’s giggling and sloppy attempt to hide his “sandwich” what is really going on.

Barney met Ted in the bathroom at Maclaren’s in what would become a familiar scene of Barney’s attempt to use a complex set-up to pick-up a girl.

Barney’s character is nothing if not consistent. While the other characters’ backstories show different sides of their personalities, Barney remains largely the same in his (granted he only met Ted a few years back). Their dynamic -- Barney as the plotting Casanova and Ted as his reluctant wingman -- is set from their very first meeting.

Lily remembers meeting Ted after meeting Marshall, but Ted thinks he and Lily kissed at a party the night before she met Marshall.

All this time Ted apparently thought he had kissed Lily before Marshall had. This seems a strange secret to bear. After all, Lily and Marshall are both Ted’s closest friends.

In the episode epilogue, Future Ted goes to his college reunion and meets the girl he kissed at the party, proving that his version of meeting Lily was false.

This undoubtedly sets fans’ hearts at ease. Even the possibility of Ted and Lily sharing a kiss back in college did not seem right, and it was a welcome realization that it really did never happen.

Episode 6: I’m Not That Guy

 Marshall gets a low-paying job at the Natural Resource Defense Council but is quickly seduced (almost literally) by a hot shot recruiter from the corporate defense firm of Nicholson, Hewitt, and West.

Now that Marshall is finished with law school, he actually has to enter the real world of working men. And it probably couldn’t come fast enough. There are worrying signs that Lily’s salary as a kindergarten will not be able to support the couple for long, and a high-paying job at a big corporate firm might be just what they need.

After being promised that he will only defend fun amusement parks, Marshall decides to take the job with Nicholson, Hewitt, and West (with a little encouragement from Lily).

Lily is much more aware of their debt than Marshall, mostly because her excessive credit card use is still a secret. Nevertheless, this is still a bit of a sad moment for their relationship. They need the money, but in encouraging him to accept the job at Nicholson, Hewitt, and West, Lily is turning Marshall away from his dream job at the Natural Resource Defense Council.

Barney’s shenanigans lead him to a porn film entitled Welcome to the Sex Plane that, to the group’s chagrin, amusement, and horror, stars an actor named Ted Mosby.

We get some ridiculous comic relief from Ted’s connection to the world of porn films. Since Ted has not yet made his name in the architect world, it looks like the most popular Ted Mosby in the world is a porn star.

Ted attempts to get porn star Ted to change his name to Lance Hardwood, but that only leads to a new porn film, Lance Hardwood: Sex Architect, starring Ted Mosby.

No luck for Ted! Ted Mosby, porn star, seems happy with his stage name and only likes Ted’s alternate suggestion enough to lend it to his next film title.

Episode 7: Dowisetrepla

Marshall and Lily fall in love with an apartment in a new neighborhood their realtor calls Dowisetrepla.

The newlyweds are off on their next big married adventure -- buying their own apartment! Understandably a bit ignorant about how to go about such a venture, they put a lot of trust in their realtor.

When they go to apply for a mortgage, however, Marshall finally discovers the massive credit debit Lily has been hiding from him since they were married.

We knew this was coming, but it’s still a painful moment. Marshall has complete trust in his wife, and the realization that she had purposely been hiding something from him clearly is hurtful.

The rest of the gang panics when they discover that Lily has contacted a divorce lawyer, but it turns out she only did so because she hoped to alleviate Marshall of her own financial burden.

Something How I Met Your Mother fans already know is that Marshall and Lily are absolutely devoted to each other. When Lily realizes that her debt will bring Marshall down, she’d rather divorce him just so that he can maintain a good credit score.

Marshall rejects such a plan, asserting he married Lily and all her problems.

What a lovely moment. The true charm of featuring such a loving couple on a sitcom lends itself to scenes like this. We know Marshall would never allow Lily to divorce him just because of credit debt, but it’s still nice to hear him say that.

The happily reunited couple buys the apartment, but when they go to visit it the next morning, they’re confronted with a horrifying stench — the cab driver reveals that Dowisetrepla is short for Downwind of the sewage treatment plant.

Unfortunately, this episode does not have a happy ending. Marshall and Lily’s realtor pulled a fast one on them, leaving them with a lease to an apartment in a part of town no one in their right mind would want to live in.

Episode 8: Spoiler Alert

Ted is shocked when the gang dislikes his new girlfriend, Cathy, until they “spoil” his relationship with her by pointing out that Cathy talks way too much.

How I Met Your Mother is often at its best when it reveals familiar relationship and friendship quirks like this. Most of us can relate to spoiler alerts, but at the very least, it makes us wonder what a spoiler alert would be about ourselves.

Each of the rest of the gang’s potentially annoying habits are revealed: Lily chews loudly, Marshall sings about whatever he is doing, Ted corrects people, Robin misuses the word literally, and Barney speaks in a falsetto, overuses catchphrases, and spaces out when people are talking to him.

In the same way that the characters of the show did not realize these things about each other until someone pointed it out, we in the audience only find it out now (with the possible exception of Ted correcting people, which does seem very familiar).

Meanwhile, Marshall is freaking out because the results of the bar exam have been posted online, but he cannot find his password.

Every now and again we get reminders that Marshall is in a very stressful time in his life. Despite having a job at Nicholson, Hewitt, and West, his professional future really rests on the results of his bar exam.

Luckily, the gang’s argument over each other’s “spoiler alerts” bring them to sing one of Marshall’s nonsense songs that actually turns out to have been a mnemonic device for his bar exam password.

In typical sitcom fashion, the plot lines of the episode converge. It turns out that if no one had mentioned Marshall’s spoiler alert of singing songs, he would never have remembered his password.

Their fighting instantly stops and gives way to celebration as Marshall discovers that he has passed the bar.

Just like real friends, the gang remembers what’s important and gives up their petty arguing. And how can they stay mad when Marshall is finally a full-fledged lawyer?

Episode 9: Slapsgiving

Ted and Robin realize how difficult it is to stay friends, but after fighting one night, they end up sleeping together.

Why, Ted and Robin, why? This is really never a good idea. Just when things seemed to be getting better between the former couple, they complicate their precarious relationship by doing this.

Marshall and Lily host Thanksgiving dinner the next day, and it’s an awkward affair: Robin brings Bob, her older boyfriend, and Barney is a nervous wreck because he believes Marshall intends to slap him at some point during the meal.

The slap countdown is almost up! Poor Barney’s Thanksgiving meal is absolutely ruined by the promise of a slap, but for faithful viewers, this moment couldn’t have come soon enough. We’ve been waiting for a slap since last season.

Ted and Robin come to the conclusion that they cannot be friends anymore, but Bob’s declaration of a “major buzzkill” prompts the former couple to salute, a reference to an inside joke they shared as a couple and evidence that they still have a connection.

Things seemed pretty grim for Ted and Robin going into the dinner, but an innocuous comment by Bob actually brings them together. Hooray! How I Met Your Mother would be a pretty sad show if two of the main characters refused to speak to each other.

Lily forbids Marshall to slap Barney during her Thanksgiving dinner, but Barney’s incessant taunting causes her to recant with mere seconds left on the slap countdown.

Barney kind of screwed himself over. If he had just stayed silent, it’s likely that Lily’s desire for a perfect Thanksgiving dinner would have outweighed her desire to see Marshall slap Barney.

Marshall slaps Barney, spontaneously singing “you just got slapped” for the entertainment of the rest of the gang.

This is a delightful moment that represents the culmination of the slap countdown and adds in a bit of Marshall’s silly singing for good measure. The only one not enjoying the fun is, of course, Barney.

Episode 10: The Yips

Barney gets the yips after discovering that Rhonda, the older women he lost his virginity to, does not even remember him or the night they once spent together.

To understand the significance of Rhonda, we have to remember that Barney’s whole persona is built upon an unwavering foundation of confidence and bravado. Rhonda basically makes him question all of that, and without his confidence, Barney ceases to be himself.

Ted, Marshall, and Barney attend a Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show after-party, and Heidi Klum advises Barney that to get over the yips he should try again with Rhonda.

We get tons of model cameos at the after-party, but it’s Heidi Klum who gets the meatiest role. Her advice isn’t super helpful, but it’s enough to send Barney on a path to getting his groove back.

After a couple of rejections, Rhonda does have sex with Barney, and afterwards, she tells him it really was the best she ever had, restoring Barney’s confidence and banishing the yips.

Rhonda gives Barney exactly what he needs to rebuild his foundation of awesomeness. From here on out, the Barney we know is returned to us.

Meanwhile, the rest of the gang tries and fails to become regulars at the gym, and Future Ted reveals that none of them ever stepped foot in a gym again.

This storyline essentially gives the rest of Barney’s friends something to do while he struggles with the yips. Nothing much comes out of it though.  

Episode 11: The Platinum Rule

Ted tells the gang that he wants to take Stella, his tattoo removal doctor, on a date to a movie.

Remember wild Amy from Episode 1? Well the aftermath of his strange night with her leads Ted to the conveniently attractive and single Stella. Could this be the mother? How I Met Your Mother fans can only wait in nervous anticipation.

However, the gang is horrified by the idea of Ted dating his doctor, particularly Barney, who claims that such an action would be in direct violation of the Platinum Rule (“never ever, ever, ever love thy neighbor”).

Barney likes ridiculous rules, we all know that, but his Platinum Rule actually makes a fair amount of sense. Even Marshall, Lily, and Robin are behind it. When you get romantically involved with someone you have to see on a regular basis, things can get awkward fast.

Barney recounts his experience with the Platinum Rule when he briefly dated Wendy the waitress, Robin tells the story of the awkwardness that resulted when she dated her fellow news anchor, and Marshall and Lily reveal a similar encounter that happened to them when they tried to become couple’s best friends with their neighbors across the hall.

In theory, you can learn from your friends’ mistakes. The gang does a splendid job of trying to impress upon Ted the negative consequences of dating someone you have to interact with on a routine basis (which provides tons of amusing flashbacks for viewers).

But Ted is not convinced by his friends’ stories, convinced that despite his friends’ failures, he can be the exception to the Platinum Rule.

It’s frustrating to watch Ted ignore his friends’ advice, but we’re all probably guilty of doing something similar. If nothing else, this episode foreshadows a possible negative outcome to Ted’s future relationship with Stella, providing a moment where the gang can all shake their heads and say, “We tried to warn you...”

Episode 12: No Tomorrow

The gang splits up for St. Patrick’s Day: Marshall, Lily, and Robin stay in to play board games at the new apartment in Dowisetrepla while Ted and Barney head off to a swanky club to party the night away.

Once again, we’re treated to another night of Ted and Barney’s misadventures while the rest of the gang has their own storyline. This is probably for the best since we’re still not sure how Ted and Robin are doing as friends. However, I, for one, kind of miss stories that involve the whole gang.

Marshall, Lily, and Robin discover that their apartment is literally crooked, but they make the best of it by inventing the sport of roller luge to fully utilize their slanted floor.

As if getting an apartment in stinky Dowisetrepla wasn’t bad enough, now this has to come along and further ruin Marshall and Lily’s idyllic plans for the future. In typical How I Met Your Mother fashion, though, the friends take misfortune in stride and find the positive side of their situation.

At the club, Ted adopts a new philosophy that bad actions are rewarded (if only for the night), and this mentality seems to effortlessly earn him a hot girl, champagne, and caviar.

It already has been a bit jarring to see Ted, the hopeless romantic, turn into Barney’s willing sidekick this season, but their St. Patrick’s Day celebration actually sees Ted cross lines that even Barney has trouble with. Ted acts like a jerk at the club to everyone around, under the odd illusion that such actions will reap fantastic benefits.

The night takes a turn for the terrible, however, when the hot girl’s boyfriend returns and punches Ted in the face.

So Ted eventually learns the lesson he should already known: acting like a disrespectful brute only attracts trouble. The punch probably couldn’t have come fast enough. I doubt anybody enjoyed seeing that side of Ted.

The next morning, Ted returns to the club to retrieve his phone and grabs an abandoned yellow umbrella that Future Ted reveals belonged to his future wife.

After teasing us for long, we get a real, tangible link to Ted’s future wife. Of course, we don’t see her or anything, but the knowledge that their paths almost crossed is enough to keep us watching and waiting for their actual meeting.

Episode 13: Ten Sessions

Ted attempts to score a date with Stella over the ten weeks that it takes to remove his tattoo.

Still ignoring Barney and his Platinum Rule, Ted adamantly pursues Stella, and if there’s one thing we know about Ted, it’s that he is quite persistent when it comes to getting his girl (Robin is one example that comes to mind).

However, Stella has a daughter, and she also is pretty certain that even after their sessions are over, she won’t want to date Ted.

A dealbreaker for some, Ted actually has always been clear about his desire to have kids. Stella keeps giving him reasons that they shouldn’t date, but Ted isn’t having any of it.

Ted starts being extra nice to Abby, the receptionist at Stella’s office, to show his nice side, but this just causes Abby to fall for him instead.

Britney Spears made a surprising cameo on the show as Abby, and her portrayal of the girl hit just the right notes of patheticness and humor. Ted has usually been the “nice guy,” but by using Abby to get closer to Stella, he reveals the not so nice side of his character.

The rest of the gang try to help Ted, but it is Marshall who actually visits Stella and discovers that despite what she’s said, she does really like Ted.

Good for Marshall! Ted’s best friend interferes, as usual, to get to the bottom of things. Without his help, Ted might have actually given up on his crush on Stella.

In order to prove that they could make a relationship work in between their hectic schedules, Ted takes Stella out on a two-minute date that includes a quick meal and a handful of movie scenes in the window of an electronic shop.

In a scene reminiscent of the over-the-top dates he employed to woo Robin, Ted takes Stella on a charming and adorable date that really leaves Stella no choice but to give him a chance.

Episode 14: The Bracket

Barney’s has an unusual stalker, someone who seems intent on preventing any women from sleeping with him.

Finally, Barney’s antics seem to have caught up with him. After years of lying to women to get them to sleep with him, it’s almost  surprising that it took this long for him to find such a committed hater.

With the help of his friends, Barney creates an epic bracket to narrow down the 64 women he believes might have the motive to destroy his dating life.

I don’t know what’s more amazing -- that Barney would even think to discover the identity of his stalker by a bracket similar to ones employed for March Madness or that he has 64 women who possibly hate him enough to stalk him.

None of the final 4 women turn out to be the stalker, but Barney does have a semi-meaningful moment by apologizing to at least one woman he tricked in order to sleep with her.

Good shows have character development, and even though Barney doesn’t seem ready to fully abandon his devious ways anytime soon, it’s pleasant to see him grow up enough to issue at least one apology to a woman he’s wronged.

The episode ends with Barney writing in his blog about the day’s misadventures, summing up the experience by declaring, “I’m awesome.”

This is a subtle reference to the endings of another show, Dougie Howser, M.D. Neil Patrick Harris, who plays Barney, had his break as the star of the medical show, and his character would summarize the events of each episode in his journal.

Episode 15: The Chain of Screaming

Poor Marshall seeks comfort and advice from the gang after his boss, “Artillery Arthur,” yells at him for failing to turn in a report on time.

Marshall is a good guy, and he’s not used to being screamed at (not that that many people are). He’s still getting used to the corporate setting, but this incident seems bad enough to really rattle him.

Robin suggests talking to “Artillery Arthur” about the incident with the aid of a gun, Lily preaches the virtues of mutual respect, and Ted wants Marshall to give his boss an inspiring speech about human dignity.

The gang is good at offering their own opinions, but those opinions are usually not that that practical. Robin’s plan would get Marshall arrested, Lily would want to treat “Artillery Arthur” as a kindergartener, and Ted’s speech would be out of place anywhere.

Barney, on the other hand, seems well acquainted with such corporate yelling and explains it as a chain (or circle or pyramid) of screaming necessary for efficiency

Only Barney seems unphased by Marshall’s story. A veteran of the corporate world, Barney tries to explain to his ignorant friends about how screaming at your inferiors is a big part of success and a great way to vent.

Marshall ends up confronting “Artillery Arthur” about his feelings, but also surprisingly quits his job in the process.

There were signs that Marshall wasn’t happy with his high-paying job at Nicholson, Hewitt, and West, but it is not until this moment that we realize how miserable he really was. This is Marshall, after all. He wanted to be a lawyer so he could save the environment, and his job at the corporate firm is the exact opposite of that.

Episode 16: Sandcastles in the Sand

Robin introduces the gang to Simon, an ex-boyfriend from Canada she dated for a couple of weeks back when she was a Canadian pop star and he was an aspiring rock star.

Fans of the show remember that Robin had one big hit as a pop star, the ridiculous and hilarious “Let’s Go to the Mall.” Now we learn that during that time of her life, there was a special boy in her life.

Despite the facts that Simon is still living with his mother and works at a water park, Robin falls head over heels for him as soon as they are reunited, acting like a besotted teenager in his presence.

It is genuinely disturbing to see proud, confident Robin turn to a pile of must in front of the verifiably lame Simon. And it’s more than just a crush — Robin practically falls over herself fawning over her ex-boyfriend.

The gang discusses how no matter how old you get there is always someone from your past who makes you revert to your younger self, a phenomenon Marshall calls revertigo.

Robin is clearly experiencing revertigo, and it’s painful to watch. If nothing else, Robin can serve as an example of the dangers of falling prey to revertigo, especially when the object of your revertigo affections may be as much of a jerk as Simon.

After very briefly rekindling their relationship, Simon dumps Robin for the exact same girl he dumped her for when they were teenagers.

History repeats itself! No one is really shocked that this ended badly, except perhaps Robin herself. Whether he dumped her or she dumped him, it’s nice to just get Simon out.

Depressed, Robin turns to Barney for comfort, and the two share a laugh over her Canadian pop song, “Sandcastles in the Sand,” before kissing.

Uh-oh. Blindsiding us with an unexpected plot twist, Barney and Robin ensure future awkwardness to boil over. Robin and Ted aren’t even fully back to normal following their break-up, and now she is kissing one of his best friends? Expect the group dynamic to suffer sorely for their actions.

Episode 17: The Goat

Robin and Barney wake up in bed together and agree that, for the sake of their friendship and the rest of the gang, they will pretend that they did not sleep together.

The kissing from last episode apparently got a lot more serious. Barney’s frustrated because he feels like he betrayed his best friend, and Robin is upset because she knows this will hurt her ex-boyfriend. One thing is clear: Ted is not going to be happy when he finds out.

Barney hires Marshall to search the Bro Code for a loophole that will make his sleeping with his best friend’s ex-girlfriend acceptable, but Marshall fails to find such a loophole.

After preaching of the supreme authority of the Bro Code, Barney finds that he is its biggest offender. The realization is almost unbearable for him, but not even super lawyer Marshall can find a way out.

Robin struggles as well to deal with what happened, and she ends up admitting the whole affair to Ted.

Deception clearly is not in Robin’s nature, but maybe that’s one of the things we like about her. While Barney scrambles to find a way to make what they did acceptable “by law,” Robin can’t bear to keep the truth from Ted.

Lily brings a goat home to the apartment to save it from being slaughtered, and Future Ted hints that this is leading up to the infamous goat story.

In the midst of all this relationship drama, we’re promised a delightful and hilarious story about a goat. This is a very welcomed promise. With potential friendships at stake, the more reasons to laugh the better.

Barney picks up Ted to take him to Ted’s 30th birthday celebration, but Ted angrily declares that he has outgrown Barney and no longer wants to be bros.

Now what? Unfortunately for fans, Ted is justified in his anger and a reconciliation between the former bros seems unlikely. After almost an entire season of sharing silly adventures with Barney, maybe this was just the tipping point Ted needed to realize he had had enough.

As the episode ends, Future Ted remembers his promise to relay the goat story, only to realize that that took place at his 31st birthday.

So much for the goat story. Right when a good laugh would have been most appreciated, Future Ted gives us nothing, making us wait another year for the goat.

Episode 18: Rebound Bro

Things are going smoothly for Ted and Stella’s new relationship until Stella admits she hasn’t had sex in five years and Ted shares this revelation with Marshall and Lily.

Ted has always been close to Marshall and Lily, but for the first time their mutual closeness actually becomes a potential problem. Should Ted really be sharing Stella’s personal revelations? Probably not, but in his defense, he tells Marshall and Lily practically everything.

Stella temporarily breaks up with Ted, but then she realizes she was just looking for an excuse to end things and resolves to start being committed to their relationship, beginning by introducing Ted to her daughter and checking into a motel.

Despite the fact that Stella was kind of justified in being mad at Ted, she very maturely realizes that perhaps her fear of commitment was also factoring into her decision to end things. So instead of breaking-up, Ted and Stella take two big steps, further cementing the seriousness of their relationship.

Meanwhile, Barney finds a replacement for Ted in the form of nervous and over-enthusiastic Randy.

Unwilling to confront his mistakes and be mature about the situation (because that would be boring), Barney tries to forget about Ted by elevating Randy to his uber-bro.

The new bros spend an eventful evening at Maclaren’s with Barney attempting to tutor Randy on the best way to pick-up women.

Randy is the enthusiastic pupil Ted never was, but despite the relative success Barney is able find for both of them at the bar, it’s clear that he has not been able to forget about his best bro, Ted.

Episode 19: Everything Must Go

Lily attempts to sell her amateur art so that Marshall and her can pay the massive bill to correct their crooked apartment.

Financial woes really have begun to pile up for the newlyweds. With Lily’s meager salary as a kindergarten teacher, Marshall’s lack of a job, and their slanted apartment, they’re struggling to stay afloat. Selling her art is essentially a last-ditch effort.

 A G-CWOK (gay couple without kids) buys one of her paintings, but when Lily tries to sell them more, she discovers that they actually hated the art and only bought it for the frame.

After three seasons of watching Lily tentatively pursue a career as an artist, we finally receive unwanted evidence that perhaps our favorite kindergarten teacher doesn’t have what it takes to make it in the art world.

Marshall and Ted track down the discarded painting to a veterinarian who reveals that for whatever reason Lily’s art calms down his animal patients, and the veterinarian agrees to buy more paintings.

So it’s not the best news, but at least someone wanted her paintings! The random connection with the vet allows Lily to feel like her talent is actually appreciated and earn her enough money to help pay for their crooked apartment correction.

Elsewhere, Barney finally discovers that Abby, Stella’s receptionist, is his mysterious stalker, but the two bond of their mutual dislike of Ted and agree to pretend to be in a relationship just to irk Ted.

Surprise! Abby was the stalker all along. A role that attracted Britney Spears was likely going to have just a little bit more meat on it. Abby and Ted’s dysfunctional pairing is awkward, but hilarious, and their plan to make Ted angry is really juvenile at best.

Their ruse goes badly, however, when Barney fakes a proposal, but Abby believes that it is sincere.

Barney’s heartlessness strikes again. His elaborate, over-the-top nature leads him to actually trick poor Abby into thinking that he wants to be with her forever.

Everything 20: Miracles

After a bad fight with Stella that ended in them tentatively breaking up, Ted gets mildly injured in a car accident.

Right when things were getting really serious with Stella, he seems okay with throwing it all away. Luckily (not really), a car hitting him might be just what he needs to reconsider that attitude.

The whole gang, except Barney, rush to the hospital, and Ted tells them that the accident has made him re-examine his life, resulting in a new urge to commit to Stella.

What do you know? The accident did make him think about his life differently. From a viewer’s standpoint, it’s odd to think about what actually changed from that morning, and why a car accident would prompt such a shift in thought. But then again, I’ve never been in a car accident, so perhaps I’m not the best judge.

Stella is thankful and exuberant that Ted is okay, but she ends up breaking-up with him when she realizes that Ted actually thought they had broken-up earlier (a fact that had somehow escaped her before).

Stella seems to think along the same lines I do. She doesn’t understand how Ted can be truly committed to both her and her daughter when he was so ready to throw their relationship away mere hours earlier.

Barney and Ted reconcile their friendship once Ted sees that Barney seriously injured himself running to the hospital.

Barney may be many things -- immature, thoughtless, deceitful -- but he is a caring friend, and Ted realizes that that may just be enough to make him the perfect bro.

Ted refuses to let Stella go, tracks her down to Kiddy Fun Land, and proposes to her.

What? How can this be? Ted and Stella only started dating a handful of episodes ago! In a truly surprising move, the season ends with this cliff-hanger, forcing faithful fans to wait until next season to hear Stella’s response.

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