Since we already know that things don't work out between Ted and Victoria or Nick and Robin, the episode title "The Autumn of Break-Ups" pretty much indicates that at least one of those couples is going to split up, and it's no surprise that the reason for the cracks in the relationship have to do with the gang's co-dependent relationships. But let's talk about Barney getting a dog first, because that was by far the highlight of the episode.
Barney sees a dog on a street, claims him as his own and names him Brover. It's a shaggy little gray thing that at one point gets suited up. I'm a sucker for dogs in clothes, so this was pretty much legen-doggy. Not only does the dog (who sticks his tongue in Barney's clearly unsanitary mouth quite frequently) help Barney with the ladies, Barney also does his wingman duty by befriending fat bitches, finding out how girl pooches are in dog years and acting like a jerk to a dog so Brover can be a hero. It means that NPH has to play with a lot of puppies, and that's pretty great.
Well, except that the reason for Barney's brief love affair with the puppy is so that Robin can see that Barney is having trouble moving on after Quinn. And she invites Barney and Brover over to dinner with her and Nick and proceeds to spend the whole night helping Barney out, even going so far as to go with him when he has to return the dog to its rightful owner (though how that woman got his cell phone when he picked the dog off the street after he escaped from a kennel beats the heck out of me). Anyway, it leads to at least a reference to that one time Robin had all the dogs, and her discovering that her aunt is a lesbian... and that she puts her friends before her relationship with Nick.
So that brings us to Ted. He's getting a recap on dinner from Marshall and Lily, who have become some sort of Men on Films/Oprah & Gayle hybrid and have started doling out relationship advice in a sassy, and possibly offensive way. Testify. The two, with their snaps and a twist, say that Ted completely missed all of Victoria's heavy handed clues about wanting to get married during dinner, and that she wants more than their taking it slow status. So Ted talks to Victoria who confirms that she's turning into a spinster and that their previously banked time together counts as part of their current relationship, so he'd best propose quickly. And he obliges. Except when he does she gives him and ultimatum. But not about moving to Denver or any of that nonsense she talked about earlier, but instead says that she'll only marry him if he stops being friends with Robin.
Aunt Robin? Who he talks about incessantly and clearly has a close relationship with his future children? Yeah. Like that's going to happen. Plus, he only has four friends in the entire world. Telling him he can't speak to one of them is going to make some awkward future dinners. Ted eventually realizes that Victoria is asking for too much and says that he hopes they can still get married. They can't. Of course, he doesn't realize this until after he's told Robin to come to the bar immediately for an awkward break-up conversation that he then doesn't have with her. Clearly, Nick is not amused that the other men in Robin's life take priority over him, but they stay together... for this week at least.
Oh, and Ted doesn't want Robin to know of his great sacrifice for her. So he tells Marshall and Lily to keep this a secret. Because those two are just so great at keeping secrets. And while we're on the topic of my once-favorite couple in a sitcom, what the hell has become of these two? They don't outwardly mention their child at all (which isn't a complaint so much as an observation), but it's like the writers don't know what to do with the two of them now that they are married and happily settled, so they just give them ridiculous things to do that vaguely service the plot. Marshall's bad advice to girls in the bar was painful to watch. I'd love it if they had a real storyline of their own that wasn't directly involving their relationships with their friends (like the godparent thing, or the sleepless thing).
And lastly, there's Nick the aspiring chef, who's pretty adorable for the stopgap placeholder that he is. His terrible cooking catchphrases reminded me briefly of Barney's early lame-brained ideas. It's like the show I used to love is in there... somewhere. How many episodes left? More than I want to know.