Hey, a Marshall and Lily episode! Haven't been so many of those around this season. At least good ones -- not that this one qualifies as "good" either, but at least it's more substantial than that awful half-hour where they made their supposed friends compete for the right to be their neglected son's godparent. The poor kid was also tangential to "Romeward Bound," stashed somewhere in the apartment -- presumably with Grandpa Mickey, although he's been MIA for half a season now -- while his mother and father made a big life decision, namely… Italy or (financially) bust?
So how exactly did they arrive at that particular set of crossroads? Chalk it up to a captain's whim, specifically Kyle MacLachlan's Captain, whom Lily is somehow still working for as a private art curator despite his obvious insanity. (My assumption is that he's been paying her in coins that he calls doubloons and she has yet to figure out that they are actually just quarters that he's dipped in gold paint.) Anyway, the Captain has decided that he's going to move to Italy for a year and wants Lily along to help him take the Italian art world by storm. Which would actually work out really great for the Italians, since Lily's poor taste would allow them to pawn their galleries of bad art off on the stupid Americans.
So Lily puts in a call to Marshall to see how he'd feel about eating nothing but pasta and gelato for 365 days, but gets blown off with a brusque, "Hey baby, I can't talk right now, I'm working on a big case." This response immediately inspires a series of horrifying flash-forward fantasies in which a neglected Marshall is forced to take on the onerous task of raising their feral kid and eventually becomes so disillusioned that he enters a fifth graders' idea of a black-and-white Italian movie that ends with him running off with a skinnier Sophia Loren type. Even though one would think the bi-curious Lily wouldn't be adverse to welcoming Loren into their relationship, she takes this as a sign that she's not meant to cross the Atlantic and offers the Captain her resignation before heading over to see Marshall at the office, where she discovers that…
Surprise! He hasn't actually been working on a case at all. Well, not a legal case anyway, though he and the only other lawyer left at his firm have been steadily working their way through a case of beer. Turns out that the whole Brad incident from earlier in the season has cost the firm a ton of business and while lawyers were being laid off right and left, his boss Garrison Cootes lit out for Colorado where he's apparently joined a doomsday cult. (It's unclear what happened to the Honeywell in Honeywell & Cootes. He's probably living amongst the Duck Dynasty folks.) And because Marshall and Lily are incapable of talking about serious issues confronting their marriage directly, he's been lying to her this whole time. (With these two as friends and role models, it's a wonder that Ted still longs to walk down the aisle at all. He'd be better off living out the rest of his days in an upstate New York ashram.)
Having learned that his lies have cost them both a year in Italy (by the way, did Lily ever think to check whether her crazy boss would be bankrolling their move and pay for separate living quarters for a family of three? Might want to get that in writing…) he convinces the Captain to offer his wife the job again, only to have Lily turn him down a second time due to her own insecurities. In the end, Marshall convinces Lily to embrace this new adventure by dressing up like Marlon Brando in The Godfather and mumbling a few words in Italian. Good thing they cut the Godfather allusion short before the scene where Don Corleone drops dead of a heart attack while trying to entertain/frighten his grandson by sticking an orange slice in his mouth.
While all this is going on, Ted is back in MacLaren's sneaking glances at the hot blonde he previously saw in his yoga class and was deeply impressed by her "ridonkulous body" -- a body that is currently covered by a puffy coat. So the newly arrived and intensely curious Barney slips the barkeep a bill to turn the heat up, hoping it will encourage the blonde to shed said coat. But before that can happen, who should walk in but Robin, who greets the hot blonde and brings her over to Ted and Barney's table, reminding her fiancé that this is their wedding planner, Liddy. (Liddy, by the way, is played by Mircea Monroe and if you've seen any of her work on the Showtime comedy Episodes, you'd know that she indeed possesses a body that qualifies as ridonkulous.)
Barney proceeds to be all gross about Liddy whenever Robin is out of earshot, leading Ted to remind his supposed friend that, hey he is getting married in three weeks and thus may want to cool it with the whole "I can ogle hot girls, because my fiancée is totally cool with it" thing. But Barney quickly puts Ted in his place, reminding him that he's not the guy who'll be exchanging rings with Robin so just butt out, thanks very much. And really, Robin should just dump both these assholes and join Cootes in his doomsday bunker, but a closing credits sting indicates that's not likely to happen since she greets Barney in their apartment wearing only a heavy coat, forcing him to turn up the heat to get her to take it off. Yuck. You know what's sexy? Women with minds of their own. You know what's not sexy? Women who have had their minds (not to mention their sense of pride) completely erased by a careless writing staff. 21 episodes down, three to go.