While "How I Met Your Mother" started the second half of season eight with a bang last week on "Band or DJ," the same really can't be said for "Ring Up," which aired Jan. 21 on CBS. (See photos from the episode here.)
The "HIMYM" episode focused on three plots. Robin (Cobie Smulders) discovered that her engagement ring has now made her invisible to all men; she'll no longer receive free coffees, and no longer get the bartender's attention at MacLaren's. At least this story led to a fun dance and song in the street (but what fans are really looking forward to is the upcoming Robin Sparkles episode).
Meanwhile, Marshall (Jason Segel) is doing anything he can to get laid, which means wearing a "bad boy" wrist cuff, even when it causes him to have an allergic reaction. After Marshall's encounter with "confetti" last week, this just wasn't as fun. Then again, it ended with Marshall declaring his love for Lily all over again; and while fans know that will never change, it's always sweet to see.
But the most maddening "How I Met Your Mother" storyline of the night involved Ted (Josh Radnor) and his new relationship to a much younger gal, Carly (Ashley Benson of "Pretty Little Liars"), who is 20 ½ years old. This story wasn't frustrating because Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) wanted Ted to sleep with the girl -- he is detoxing from one-night stands after all, and wanted Ted to "proxy bang" her -- but because it seems like Ted should be long past the point of dating women who stand no chance of being the mother.
Alas, Ted's storyline seemed to serve another purpose: to squash rumors that the "mother" is Barney's half-sister. Barney and Ted may have had a bro-nnection once Ted finally slept with her (after discovering she liked "Star Wars," at least the new ones), but then Barney is mortified to learn that Carly is none other than his half-sister. (So apparently there was a point to Ted rarely ever mentioning her name in front of his friends).
The storyline was a tad predictable, if only because the half-sister was mentioned at the beginning of "HIMYM" "Ring Up"; when Robin revealed that she got the family heirloom ring, she said Barney's half-sister could "suck it."
That's not to say the storyline didn't have its moments. Barney once again alluded to the fact that he slept with Ted's mother with some well-timed winks. And it was fun to see the Barney fans all know and love, like when he high-fived Ted for landing Carly, but then rescinded that high five, because he knew he shouldn't applaud Ted for sleeping with his sister.
All in all, it felt like an episode the writers needed to do if only to move on from the rumor that Ted would meet Barney's half-sister at the wedding and fall in love (as if Barney's sister would ever be a bass player). That, and Barney has finally finished his detox. He doesn't believe in one-night stands anymore. He thinks relationships should be more meaningful than that. And, once again, the CBS comedy proved there can still be sweet Barney and Robin moments even now that they're engaged.
"How I Met Your Mother" airs on CBS Mondays at 8 p.m. EST.
© Elizabeth SanFilippo 2013