Credit: Ron P. Jaffe/Fox
''Um. Why is Jon Cryer in NPH's spot?" says commenter MKS. ''How can the Emmys ignore Barney's tear-jerking yet touchingly funny journey with his reunion…

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t seen tonight’s How I Met Your Mother, do not continue reading. As the word “recap” implies, we’ll be talking about the episode — and you don’t want this one spoiled for you. Trust us.

It was all a plan — a very detailed, sneaky, Barney-you’re-a-terrible-and-wonderful-person-all-at-the-same-time plan.

In case you can’t follow my babble: Tonight’s episode of How I Met Your Mother put to rest all the speculation about Barney’s interactions with Robin’s co-worker, Patrice. After seeing the unlikely pair come together, fans were led to believe that he was planning to propose to her tonight — just weeks after breaking off his engagement to Quinn. In the end, a proposal didn’t happen — but not for Patrice.

Every move — from Barney’s speech to the burning of the playbook — was part of an elaborate plan to propose to the love of his life, Robin.

Admit it, you’d been worried. When the logline for this week’s episode indicated that Barney would be proposing to Patrice, you were angry, outraged, annoyed, and downright done. Done with the push-and-pull, the back-and-forth, the left-and-right. (The latter doesn’t make all that much sense, but I needed a third.) But like I said, it was all for a purpose. But we didn’t know this until the very last wonderful minutes of the hour-long episode.

Prior to that, this episode seemed like any other very solid half hour. The gang was engaged in a rousing game of jinx (poor, Barney!), Ted was determined to confront a former professor (Peter Gallagher) who once told him he’d never be an architect, and Lily and Marshall feared for their lives after reuniting with a crazy former acquaintance (Seth Green). But while it was a great episode in and of itself, it also launched us in to a very emotional second half, which culminated with the big moment.

You see, during this first portion of the episode, Robin had the chance to fire Patrice and — even though she didn’t have any professional reason to do so — she went through with it out of jealousy. It didn’t stick, of course. Robin ended up retracting and admitted the truth to Patrice. “I’m sorry. It’s just — seeing you with Barney has brought up some old feelings…it’s just really hard seeing you with him,” she said.

At the same time, Barney found himself still jinxed and stuck in a car with Ted. Wisely, he used the engagement ring in his pocket to weasel his way out of being jinxed and reversed the jinx on Ted. (Brilliant!) But after doing so, he lied to Ted and told him he was proposing to Patrice. Then, Barney said he’d release Ted from his jinx IF he agreed not to tell Robin.

Ted agreed but struggled with his decision for the rest of the hour. Ultimately, he decided it was too important to keep from her. He wanted to give her one more chance to fight for Barney.

This had been part of Barney’s plan all along. In his eyes, if Ted told Robin about the proposal, it meant his “best bro in the world has let go of Robin and given his blessing.”

Instead of heading straight for the GNB opening night gala, where Ted was set to be honored, he had the driver take Robin to the place Barney was going to propose — the top of the World Wide News building, which Barney had told Ted was Patrice’s favorite spot in the city. (It was also Robin’s. DAMMIT, PATRICE!)

Even after arriving, Robin resisted.

“As a leading expert in the field of making an ass of yourself, I say to you, from the heart, get the hell out of this car,” Ted told her. “But Ted, it’s your big night,” she said with tears in her eyes. He looked at her lovingly, and said softly, “It’s just a building.”

With that, Robin went up there and found a rooftop lined in candles and a single piece of paper on the floor. That’s how she discovered “The Robin” — the final page of Barney’s playbook and the last play he’d ever run. This plan was incredibly detailed, as I mentioned — and enraging.

With that, Barney got down on one knee and asked her to marry him. She said yes.

We knew it was coming, and we knew that Barney and Robin would eventually make it to the altar. But that didn’t damper the moment for me at all. I cried like baby Marvin Waitforit Eriksen.

The proposal, while polarizing, I’m sure, was great because it was 100 percent from Barney’s heart. It dripped with intentions so sweet that it was almost bitter, and if Barney hadn’t walked that line, I would have thought his heart wasn’t in it.

Every bit of doubt that has plagued this pair went up in flames when Barney tore out that page and burned the rest of his playbook. He committed — and now so has she.

And that’s How He Got the Girl.

Burning question time! Did you geek out after watching Willow (Hannigan) and Oz (Green) back on-screen together again? (Me: YES!) Do you hope we get a chance to see more from Marshall’s prom? How great was Cobie Smulders’ Buffalo Bill? Did you find Marvin’s lullaby incredibly catchy? And, admit it, did the final shot of Ted make your heart hurt just a little?

IMPORTANT NOTE: Come back after the West Coast airing for a post-mortem with executive producer Craig Thomas! UPDATE: Read our post-mortem here.


Episode Recaps

''Um. Why is Jon Cryer in NPH's spot?" says commenter MKS. ''How can the Emmys ignore Barney's tear-jerking yet touchingly funny journey with his reunion…
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