As I had suspected, with all the excess relationship stuff out of the picture, our characters got right back to their old selves on this week’s episode of How I Met Your Mother. “The Stamp Tramp” took Lily and Marshall out of their domestic rut, set Robin and Barney loose in the city, and let Ted shine in all his dorky glory.
With Quinn back to work at Barney’s former favorite strip joint, The Lusty Leopard, he was in need of a new seedy joint to spend his time and money in. Seeing an untapped opportunity for profit, Robin agreeed to join Barney in his quest as his strip club agent. Robin has been one of the funniest characters this season and seeing these two paired up again as bros was a strong point of the episode. Barney’s free agent riff at the end took the gag a little too far for my tastes, but I did enjoy how seriously and personally offended he was about Robin’s skimming off the top of the “strip club swag.”
Since we already know that this season is meandering towards showing us how Robin and Barney end up in the same church about to get married, it wasn’t all that much of a surprise that they shared a drunken kiss. Things have been strange between them for so long that I wasn’t even surprised that Robin pushed Barney away again after their kiss. When he can’t resist her, Robin pushes him away, and when she wants to seriously consider their feelings for one another, Barney denies he has any. I expect this game will go on for a while this season despite how badly I just want the both of them to get it together and just be happy with one another.
The “stamp of approval” discussion tied all the other stories together. Lily and Ted’s battle for superior stamp of approval reputability led to the two of them reminiscing about their college years. I loved that Ted finally broke down and admitted that he was Dr. X for the sake of not being considered a piggyback stamper. His private humiliation as he watched his 18 year old self ramble on idiotically was something that I think most 30-somethings could relate to. It led to a sweet moment between him and Lily when they discovered that he had given Lily the ultimate seal of approval after Marshall and Lily had only gone on three dates. Ted might never be as sure of his own relationships as he was about Lily and Marshall in their early college years.
Marshall’s terrible seal of approval skills put him in a precarious position at his office. An old college friend of Marshall’s, Brad, used Marshall’s kindness against him to get confidential information about a case that Marshall had been working on. The Brad storyline was done well because the plot twist seemed to come out of nowhere. The moment we saw Brad in the courtroom, we knew that something shady was up and that things were going to get worse for Marshall before they got better. Narrator Ted left this story open ended, telling us that this case would change the course of Marshall’s career, so it seems pretty safe to say this won’t be the last we’ll see of that sabotaging Brad on How I Met Your Mother.
This week’s episode of How I Met Your Mother felt a lot more like classic HIMYM than most episodes this season. It might not have been among the best of the classics, but we got a little bit of the gang debating trivial nonsense, flashbacks to sandwich filled dorm rooms, Robin and Barney bro-ing out on the town, and Marshall struggling with his career. I don’t necessarily expect that How I Met Your Mother will forever stick to the stories that have worked for these characters in the past, but I can’t deny when the formula just works. This episode might not win the Lily stamp of approval, but it definitely achieved a Ted level piggy-back-stamp of approval.