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'How I Met Your Mother' recap: Did Marshall slap Barney in 'Slapsgiving 3'?

'How I Met Your Mother' season 9 episode 13 "Slapsgiving 3: Slappointment in Slapmara"
'How I Met Your Mother' season 9 episode 13 "Slapsgiving 3: Slappointment in Slapmara"
Ron P. Jaffe/Fox

"How I Met Your Mother" season 9 continued Monday, Jan. 13, with episode 13, "Slapsgiving 3: Slappointment in Slapmara," and it was (maybe) time for the moment everyone had been waiting for: the next slap.

Sunday 1 a.m., 17 hours before the wedding

As this "HIMYM" episode began, Marshall's hand neared Barney's face in slow motion, with all the dramatics such a moment deserved until… Wait, there was a back story!

A few weeks earlier, as Barney insulted Marshall's suit, calling it a slap in the face to all suits everywhere, Marshall revealed that the next slap would be as painful as humanly possible. While Barney argued that he was numb to it after all the torment he'd been through over the years, Marshall sought out new tricks for this final slap and found out about the Slap of a Thousand Exploding Suns. Once he mastered speed, strength, and accuracy from three great masters, a little kid explained, he'd be able to deliver the Slap of a Million Exploding Suns. Wait, wasn't it just a thousand? No, a million.

So, Marshall traveled to Shanghai, yes, to Shanghai, last year, and searched for the first master, Redbird (a.k.a. Robin). Barney didn't buy it, but then Marshall showed off his powerful slap when he hit the jukebox and it fell into pieces. And so Barney began to panic. But Marshall wouldn't slap him yet; it would be underneath a willow tree with four women and a tiger, he explained, something the others claimed they didn't hear.

In Shanghai, he found Red Bird, who had retired long ago (she was 86, but looked really good for her age), until she heard it was to slap Barney. His training began at the Fabled Slapping Tree of the Gong Ching Forest, a tree everyone except Barney knew about, and after a year of training – you mean you don't remember that time Marshall was in Shanghai for a year? – Marshall showed enough slaptitude to be ready for the final test: slap Red Bird. He passed, but he couldn’t' slap anyone until his training was complete, or the consequences would be dire.

The second master was White Flower (a.k.a. Lily), on Slap Mountain, to teach him strength. She hit a fly through the window, and like Red Bird, she looked younger than her 106 years ("What is in these noodles?" Marshal asked) and agreed to come out of retirement because it was to slap Barney. They made love in the forest – "What happens in the magical Gong Ching Forest stays in the magical Gong Ching Forest," Lily claimed – and Marshall learned that whenever someone who hated Barney slapped him in the face, the power would go into his hand. It was easy to find people who hated him; Marshall just went around to the gullible women he had slept with and introduced himself as his friend. After a while, his hand began to glow.

The final master was the Calligrapher (a.k.a. Ted) in Cleveland, the city equivalent of being slapped in the face. He may have looked 35, but he was…34. Ouch. But before he could train him, he began to choke and Marshall learned why he shouldn't slap before his training was complete as he slapped his heart right out of his chest. He had never learned accuracy. And so, on the weekend of the wedding, Marshall missed and Barney ran away.

However, Barney ran right into four women knitting a tiger blanket under a willow tree, and Marshall revealed that the Calligrapher had had 10, 15 minutes to live after having his heart slapped out of his chest, because that was normal. And so he gave him the final lesson: be really accurate and aim. Because that wasn't something Marshall could have learned by, oh, opening a dictionary? Oh, and Cleveland had a lot to offer.

With that revealed, Marshall was ready, and so was Barney. And so the slow motion dramatics started again and the slap was delivered. Then, because Boyz II Men hangs out in the woods near the Farhampton Inn all the time, they joined the others and sang to Barney, while flashbacks to the other slaps – and the slapping tree – were shown. "One more," Marshall warned Barney.

"How I Met Your Mother" season 9 airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on CBS. What did you think of episode 13, "Slapsgiving 3: Slappointment in Slapmara"?

Read more about How I Met Your Mother.

© Meredith Jacobs 2014

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