After what was decidedly an off week last week, How I Met Your Mother came roaring back this week with one of my favorite episodes of the season so far. And let’s not beat around the bush, a large part of why I loved this episode came down to the final minutes, which found Barney and Robin engaged in an intense taxicab lip-lock.
In fact, I’d go so far as to say that “Disaster Averted” was everything I’d hoped “The Slutty Pumpkin Returns” would be. It was mythologically satisfying (slap bet twist!), just the right amount of silly (R.I.P. ducky tie), and emotionally exciting (that ending!!). Let’s take a closer look.
The episode centered around Hurricane Irene. The gang, gathered around their table at the bar, recounted the hurricane while trying to explain the origins of the “No boogie boarding” sign hanging outside the bar to Kevin. In grand HIMYM tradition, the telling of the tale was disjointed by present-day goings on — in this case, Barney desperately trying to get out of his duck tie deal with Marshall and Lily.
In the flashback, Ted was in full Boy Scout mode, armed with a go-bag, an evacuation plan, Memoirs of a Geisha on tape, and pink girly rain boots. (They really were quite fabulous.) Meanwhile, Marshall was more immediately concerned with not dying or injuring himself after learning he would be without insurance for two weeks while Lily’s insurance plan kicked in. (The flashback took place just after he joined the ranks of the unemployed.) As a result, he felt like he needed Lily around at all times to protect him from looming threats, like biting babies, rogue hand soap, apartment bears, and skateboarders.
Barney and Robin unsurprisingly found themselves on the same page about the brewing hurricane — they were completely unconcerned. Barney thought of it as an opportunity to stay in his apartment and booze it up (a.k.a. the New York way). And Robin shrugged it off as something they’d call “barbecue weather” in Vancouver. That changed as the storm intensified — and as moms and dads phoned their kids.
Much to Robin’s dismay, she was the exception. Famously hungry for her father’s affection, Robin didn’t receive any calls during the major part of the storm — unless you count Barney’s malicious fake call, which, I’ll admit, I would have slapped him for making.
This is actually the perfect opportunity to chat a bit about what was going on in the present day. After trying to convince Marshall and Lily to let him take off the tie, Barney turned to bribery. He was willing to trade an extra slap on the Slap Bet in exchange for his fashion freedom. Marshall was tempted — and even came close to giving in after Barney launched a campaign to be as obnoxious as possible.
But as Barney got close to winning, Kevin broke it down for the gang, telling them that Barney obviously had a motive for suddenly wanting the tie off. At that point, he’d coped with the horror for weeks. His diagnosis? Barney was going to meet Nora’s parents soon and didn’t want to do so with little ducks on his tie. And he was right! Therapized!
In the end, the gang ended up having to ride out the hurricane because they wasted so much time arguing about leaving that they missed their chance to evacuate. So they instead sat around and made use of their time. Marshall and Lily were particularly productive and conceived a baby in Barney’s tub! (Hence Ted’s awesome baby name suggestion, Hurricane Eriksen.) This knowledge horrified present-day Barney, but it also got him out of the duck tie agreement — with one hitch: Marshall got three extra slaps (two of which he quickly used).
On the cab ride home, Barney and Robin reminisced further about that day after the hurricane, which found the gang outside of a shuttered MacLaren’s, boogie boarding on the street. (Marshall’s eventual crash through the front window of MacLaren’s led to the creation of the cautionary sign.). And they revealed that they left something very important out of the story: They’d almost shared a kiss in the rain.
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