Note: Do not read on if you have not yet seen Season 8, Episode 14 of CBS' "How I Met Your Mother," titled "Ring Up."
The creators of "HIMYM" seriously don't want us to know how Ted meets the mother. We came so close in the last episode -- wrist playing bass close -- yet this episode was all about Ted's regression/awkward way of dealing with the pending nuptials of his beloved Robin and his best bro Barney.
And so it begins with a leather cuff, also dubbed "the male birth control," the "chastity bracelet," and "Wonder Woman's magic wrist cuff." And the reason Ted has on this obscenely large and juvenile accessory? What else? A girl. This one's quirk is her age, 20 years and five months and a half to be exact -- over a decade younger than ol' Mr. Mosby.
Ted, taken with the hottie played by "Pretty Little Liars" star Ashley Benson, attempts to blend in with the hipster youngster (roller-skates are the new ironic means of transportation and crop tops are the new winter wear) while Carly takes a liking to Ted because of his advanced age ("Were you in Vietnam?").
Former mass-womanizer and recently engaged Barney publicly denounces Ted's "disgusting" behavior, only to later sneak into Ted's apartment when he's asleep, go through his dream journal, and beg his bud to "proxy-bang" the 20-year-old because he himself is "detoxing."
On her parallel route down the altar, recently engaged Robin has a hard time wearing her newly resized ring out in public. Turns out she's used to getting everything for free -- as seen in the first song and dance number since "The Suit Song" -- and now her engagement ring eclipses her beauty and she's both invisible in bars and is asked to pay for her coffee. (Gasp!)
In happily married land, Marshall and Lily find a way to rekindle the passion in the bedroom post-baby, and surprisingly, it has to do with the bashed leather cuff. Lily thinks it's a turn-on in a sexy, tattooed, drugged-out band member sort of way, and Marshall is game until his hand blows up to the size of baby Marvin. Hey, at least we got to see leather pants, beanie-wearing, metal-chained Marshall, and that's refreshing. (And hot. Is it bad that I think so?).
Ted has difficulty finding common ground with perky-breasts Carly (TV? No. Sports? Nope. Books? Nada. Some version of "Stars Wars" will do) but proceeds to hook up with her anyway, if only to shut sweaty, sex-crazed Barney up. But worry not, Barney won't cheat on Robin, no more than she cheats on him by removing the ring from her finger just to get a beer.
The undeniable high point of this rather-put-together-but-seemingly-unrelated-to-the-name-of-the-show episode is when Barney finds out the 20-year-old is no other than his half-sister. Of the four million women in New York, Ted had to bang Barney's half-sister, which seems only appropriate since of the four million women in the city Barney had to fall for Ted's one true love (before the mother!). In a way of reconciliation, Barney sends Ted a dead possum ("are you sure he's not just playing dead?") and invites him over for cigars (pronounced SEA-gars).
But, shocker, Barney's innocent invite is anything but and when Carly enters the apartment, so do the cater waiters, the wedding cake, and the flowery altar. Barney, now minister, wants to wed the two ("bro-in-law!") because he's opposed to the kind of cheap, meaningless sex they engaged in. Detox complete.
Robin, who for a while there was worrying that the ring might be more burden than bliss, realizes the giant rock's malicious superpowers are irrelevant because Barney is all she needs (seriously: awwww. These two.) and he'll always get her a drink.
And so, though we haven't gotten any closer to finding out who Rachel Bilson's former roommate is, we did get a very cute episode in which Ted goes two steps back while everyone around him walks three steps forward. I guess that warrants a whole ninth season.
Sidebar: Marshall has serious mommy issues and it is not as endearing as Barney's past bimbos with daddy issues. Lily's accidental jeans are ridic.
Best One Liners:
"She had to bounce. A flash mob broke out in front of a line of Korean Mexican food trucks in
Williamsburg." -- Ted
"Barney, you don't start with the 'I got caught cheating' diamond. You give yourself room to grow." -- Lily
"Didn't you check your phone? I just 'means of contacting' you on 'currently hot
social networking site.'" -- Carly
"Ooh, hey, do you want to split a kimchi cupcake with bacon frosting? They are the best here." -- Carly
"Wow, do little blue birds help you get dressed in the morning too?" -- Lily
Barney: "Look, Ted, there's something we have to talk about."
Barney: "You're picking now to get some self-respect? You once banged a blind girl by pretending to be Sean Connery."
Ted: "That was you."
Barney (in a Sean Connery voice): "Yesh ... That conquesht was mosht enjoyable."
"Normally, New York is the friendliest, most affordable city in the world. Now it's as rude and expensive as San Francisco." -- Robin
"She doesn't have daddy issues, she has grand-daddy issues." -- Ted
"Oh sweetie, I know it's nice to be groped by strangers, but nothing beats the rush when that one special person looks at you." - Lily
Barney: "I'd like to start the service with a passage from Ted's dream journal. 'Drowning. Gasping for air. No escape.'"
Carly: "Wait, is that about Vietnam?"
Barney: "It's about Whole Foods."
"How I Met Your Mother" airs Mondays at 8 p.m. EST on CBS.