Somewhere along the way of this up-and-down season of How I Met Your Mother, the show let Barney's libido hijack whatever other story lines they had hoped to develop.
Not that we care if we ever get to see Ted meet the mom of his future children, but even the most ardent Neil Patrick Harris fan had to grow tired of the shtick that goes along with Barney's serial conquests. We get it, Barney likes sex.
Monday night, the show thankfully returned to a more fruitful subject: Ted's tendency to put on airs as if he were the heir to the Massengill fortune. And with the Shakespearean subtlety required to deflate his pious readings of Emerson poems and Dante's Inferno in the original Italian, Ted's friends respond with the classic low-brow response: faux flatulence.
That's a fancy way of saying that every time Ted threatened to go off the rails with his d-baggery, they stopped him in his tracks by making a fart sound. Not every critic was a fan of last night's episode, but its focus on the cast's camaraderie, as opposed to any tired quest for love or lust was a welcome change.
Robin is absent much of the episode, carrying through on her vow to cut ties for a while to concentrate on her new relationship with Don, her Good Morning New York co-anchor. Worried that his ex-girlfriend's departure is only the first step in the gang's disintegration, Barney treats Ted, Lily and Marshall to tickets to a Robots vs. Wrestlers extravaganza.
The yin to that low-brow entertainment's yang is the hoity-toity cocktail party that they crash on their way to Robots vs. Wrestlers. (Cue celebrity cameos by Arianna Huffington, and New York Times crossword editor Will Shortz, as well as director Peter Bogdanovich and his ascot, taking a break from their Winston-Salem sabbatical.)
Distressed by the absence of mini-pizzas, mini-burgers or any other appetizers that make you feel like a giant, Marshall is eager to leave the party as quickly as they arrive. Shot down by Huffington, who says that she prefers her men younger, Barney too is ready hit Robots vs. Wrestlers. Same goes for Lily, who grows tired of being scolded every time she picks up Edgar Allen Poe's candlestick or some other snooty heirloom.
The Upper West Side party may indeed be a "Douchepocalypse," but Ted feels at home, freed from the fear that every high-minded comment will be welcomed with a fart-sound. Barney, Lily and Marshall leave him behind for the earthier pleasures of Robots vs. Wrestlers.
All appears lost for the gang until the trio discover Ted's doppelganger, a Mexican wrestler who tears his robot foes to bits. Barney instinctively texts a photo of the wrestler to Ted, who is so moved by the gesture — or maybe just weirded out by the picture of his mustached double — that he bolts from Douchepocalypse in mid-Dante filibuster and rejoins his friends at Maclaren's.
Everything comes full circle then as Robin, unaware that the rest of the group had just agreed to hold their faux flatulence as Ted recited a poem on friendship, walks in and interrupts him with a fake blast of her own.
The more sophisticated members of the "Happiness ..." blog's brain trust may point to last night's episode as another step in HIMYM's slide into mediocrity, but I'm an easy mark. Ask me to choose between the comic stylings of Blazing Saddles or Breakfast at Tiffany's, sign me up for a good campfire scene every time.