For the third episode in a row, the How I Met Your Mother writers dish up a major life change for at least one of the major characters at the 21 minute mark. Two weeks ago, it was Robin's breakup with... oh man, what was his name again? Bevin? Devin? Beats us. Anyway, that was followed by Ted's earth-shattering, vomit-inducing confession: “I love you, Robin.” And then last week, the episode ended with the duo opting not to rekindle their romance and Robin moving out. In the final moments of “Karma,” Ted follows his ex out the door of his enviable two-bedroom Manhattan pad, turning the place over to Marshall and Lily and their impending bundle of joy. It was a genuinely sweet moment, the kind that's increasingly rare to see on the show these days. Clearly, the writers are on a roll when it comes to crafting memorable endings. It's just the rest of the 22 minutes that they have trouble filling.
Rewinding back to the top of the half-hour, Ted's alone in the apartment, pondering what to do with the extra room he's been gifted with in the wake of Robin's departure. Personally, we'd go about transforming that space into a screening room/arcade by buying the biggest TV we could find as well as a pair of plush armchairs and then hooking up a PS3 (plus a Nintendo Wii for the new Zelda game) and only emerging from that cave every other day to shower and maybe eat something besides Hot Pockets. Of course, even though this arrangement sounds like heaven to us, it's extremely unlikely for Ted given his Cro-Magnon taste in home entertainment set-ups.
Instead, ol' Mosby alternately transforms the spare room into a smoke house (for his meats), a wood shop (for his poorly made furniture) and a potter's shed (for his terrible pottery). Anything but a guest room, which, as he tells the ghost of Robin that still inhabits that space, would just be a “room devoted to reminding me that I'm still alone.” (Geez, even in spectral form, poor Robin still has to put up with Ted's whining.) It takes an innuendo-loaded conversation with the flesh-and-blood Scherbatsky to plant the notion of handing the place over to Marshall and Lily in his mind. When they take him up on his invitation to hang out in the city one evening, they arrive to find an apartment completely devoid of possessions and furniture, save one thing: a crib in the guest room. Of course, since it's a crib that Ted made it instantly falls apart. This is why he just designs buildings instead of physically building them.
So how did Ted know that the soon-to-be parents even wanted to move back to Manhattan from the paradise that is Long Island? Robin did some on-the-ground reconnaissance for him when she spent six days at their suburban homestead after vacating the apartment. It only takes her roughly 24 hours to hate the place, what with its rousing games of table shuffleboard, macramé class and restaurants where “dessert has fireworks in it.” But her hosts won't let her leave, going so far as to lock her in her guest room to keep their prized possession from fleeing. No, Lily and Marshall aren't re-enacting scenes from John Fowles's The Collector (although we wouldn't put that past them) -- they're just desperately unhappy with their new surroundings and want another person to be comfortably numb with as they sit on the couch wrapped in matching Snug-Its eating out of plus-sized cartons of ice cream. Returning to the city seems like an impossible dream… until Ted makes it easy for them by re-gifting the apartment. Man, people just seem to love giving Marshall and Lily places to live without any apparent strings attached, huh? If anyone out there has a Brooklyn brownstone to unload for free, DM us.
And what about Barney, you may ask? Don't bother, his storyline is really boring. As you may recall, he had a brief encounter with a sassy gal named Quinn two weeks ago, never realizing that she's a dancer at the strip club where he's a frequent patron. Returning to her place of employment for one of his regular visits, he spots her and invests in some one-on-one time, during which he allows himself to be fooled into thinking that she really digs him. $900 and one Rolex watch later, she agrees to go out on a date with him… at the strip club, natch. That's right folks, it's the time-tested “player gets played” scenario, but the writers can't commit to giving Barney his full comeuppance. After he finally wises up and realizes he's being led on, Barney has a meet-cute moment with Quinn in a coffee shop that doesn't end with her tossing hot coffee in his face and fleeing the scene. So basically, that means she'll be sticking around awhile longer, at least until the writers find a way to put Robin and Barney back together. To which we say… whatever. As placeholders go, Quinn's at least got more personality than Nora.