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How I Met Your Mother: "The Goat"

Illustration for article titled iHow I Met Your Mother/i: The Goat
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Illustration for article titled iHow I Met Your Mother/i: The Goat

It's fallout time. Duck and cover, everybody.

So we had several theories espoused by faithful commenters about how the Barney-Robin thing would work out. Here's the rundown:

Theory number 1: One night stand. I'll attribute this one to scotteb, seconded by many.

Verdict: Certainly appears to be. Robin is determined to pretend it never happened, and does a much better job of it than Barney, who immediately develops a bad case of PTSD, jumping at every firecracker and backfire. It turns out his nervousness is due to his guilt at having violated the Bro Code, a longstanding collection of dude rules that includes "no sex with your bro's ex." There's no hint that Barney feels upset at actually … you know … feeling something for Robin. Not yet, anyway.

Theory number 2: Pairing up. JGabriel suggested that the logic of the show's premise demanded that all Ted's friends find partners before he finally gets together with Yellow Umbrella Girl (henceforth known as YUG).

Verdict: No pairing up in sight, I'm sorry to say. I scoured the episode for any sign that Barney and Robin remained vulnerable to each other's charms. I didn't see it. Did any of you?

JGabriel's pair-up logic got him worried that the show was going to start focusing on changing Barney from womanizing egomaniac to sympathetic mate. What was brilliant about tonight's episode was that the change in Barney didn't focus on Robin at all. It was his relationship to Ted that was put in jeopardy. Turns out that Ted understood Robin's reasons for sleeping with Barney. But he couldn't understand Barney's reasons for sleeping with Robin. And so another question that's been haunting the show all season long comes to a head: Is Barney any good for Ted? I've been arguing that the Barney influence on Ted is all negative — that the more Ted acts as Barney's bro, the uglier he becomes. It's rather sobering to hear that Ted agrees with me.

Theory number 3: Open relationship. Aspiring show runner Chrissy thought that Robin and Barney could hook up but have their own lives, returning to each other for companionship and comfort and eventual old-age cuddles.

Verdict: It was a truly creative idea, Chrissy, but it's nowhere in sight. Besides, do I want Robin to be openly promiscuous? She's confident professional woman and all, and as Ted says, we know she's dating, but the idea of an open relationship is all about "hey, let's have sex with anybody we want!", and I think it would really alter the way Robin's character comes across to have her define herself that way.

I don't have any theories — only hopes. I think Barney and Robin, in the way they got together last episode, are a match I want to see more of. (Mostly I just want to see sweet, sincere Barney a little more often.) So I'm hoping this is not a one-time thing. But on the other hand, the crisis that it has foisted upon the foursome is far more interesting and wide-ranging than the relationship by itself. I'm not sure Ted is right to shun Barney over this slip-up in the Bro Code. He believes that Barney was doing his Barney bit, while Robin was expressing true need and vulnerability. Will he find out that Barney isn't as far away from that acceptable motivation as he might imagine? Ted is trying to define himself as an adult (that whole thirtieth birthday angle, you know) by separating from what he considers childish and immature. Barney is that — but I hope (and confidently expect) Ted will find out that he's more than that.

And maybe that will take a Barney-Robin relationship to accomplish. All we know at this point is that ROBIN IS LIVING WITH TED ON HIS THIRTY-FIRST BIRTHDAY!

You know, I was all set to write about how the goat thing was really stupid and a distracting B-story to the episode, and then they paid it off with a miniature revelation. Now I am not only understanding of, but actively happy about the title of the episode not being "The Bro Code."

Grade: A-

Stray observations:

- It's strange how I'm relegating all consideration of HIMYM as comedy to these bullet points. But who can think about comedy when there are relationship crises afoot?

- Me, that's who. Favorite bits:

- Barney's reaction to Ted's innocent question, "You want my XBox?"

- "Stella makes this one look like a filthy bag of garbage!" (Actually, friends, I think the whole "I'm with Stella now" thing is setting us up for some kind of fall. Anybody else feel that Ted is overselling that one? He's said that phrase about six times in two weeks since the two-minute date.)

- Marshall: "You'll have to pay me." Barney: "I'll pay you — a little." Marshall: "I'll take it." (By the way, the hair is sloooowly getting better, Jason.)

- "It's all from SkyMall."

- Terrific misdirection in the limo scene from Ted: "My mother's coming into town next week, so maybe you'd like to NAIL HER TOO!" Followed by a very angry punch to the groin. Bravo!

- Lily's schoolteacher outfit. That's all I'm going to say.

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