Hey, remember when How I Met Your Mother was a comedy with genuine laughs and everything? Yeah, that doesn't ring a bell with me either. Apparently, even the writers have forgotten that particular detail since "The Broath" -- the 19th episode in this profoundly mediocre season -- seemed deliberately calculated to contain as little humor as possible. Maybe if these people were remotely interesting anymore, the shift towards drama would be quite so jarring. But it's getting increasingly hard to recognize the characters we knew and once
loved adored generally enjoyed. In their place are, as Barney describes them toward the end of the episode, a group of "presumptuous, meddlesome and downright destructive" individuals who should probably be put in a jail cell alongside the Seinfeld cast for the good of humanity.
But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves, as that way lies a third act plot twist that we should save for the final graf... not that it isn't that hard to figure out if you're paying attention. (Which is more of a challenge than you might think given how boring much of the episode is.) "The Broath" begins with Barney summoning Ted to his apartment and forcing him to swear to a secret vow known as "bro-oath or broath." (On the secret vow scale, that ranks higher than a pinky swear, but lower than swearing on your mother's life.) The particular secret he's taking a broath (ugh, it just sounds lamer every time you say it or type it) to protect is that Barney's new girlfriend, Quinn, works a pole for a living. See, he's about to take the big step of introducing her to the gang, but doesn't want him revealing her past as a 1) a stripper and 2) a stripper who bilked Barney for thousands of dollars, as that information would likely prejudice them against her. Ted places his hand on Barney's leather-bound Bro Code volume and diligently swears the broath... and then spills the beans to his friends not one second later. Yet another example of why Ted Evelyn Mosby is the worst human being in the world.
Anyway, the revelation that Quinn is a duplicitous stripper predictably inspires lots of hand-wringing amongst the group, just as they're about to truck over to Quinn's to have a "getting to know you" dinner with her and Barney. The night appears to go disastrously with Quinn bossing the poor guy around constantly, refusing to even let him go to the bathroom. She also mentions that her lovely, rent-controlled apartment is going on the market soon, news that's of particular interest to Robin and Ted who vacated their old apartment in the previous episode and are currently residing at a work frenemy's house and a college dorm respectively. (In the episode's one semi-clever touch, Ted is constantly harassed by a trio of students in the hallway made up to resemble younger versions of him, Lily and Marshall.) And because it's not a How I Met Your Mother party if one couple isn't embarrassing themselves publicly, Marshall and Lily start telling old sex stories involving themselves and "anonymous" partners (i.e. each other, since Lily's the only woman Marshall has ever been with and everyone knows it). Why Quinn doesn't throw them all out of her apartment right then and there indicates she's not as smart as she seem to think she is.
Now convinced in the wake of this dinner that Barney and Quinn's relationship is doomed, the four decide to stage a "Quinn-tervention" (okay, that may be even lamer to type than "broath") on his behalf and break them up. Before the man of honor arrives, Ted and Robin bicker some more over which of them deserves Quinn's apartment more and Marshall and Lily tell more sex stories including one that once again touches on the torch Lily carries for Robin. (Marshall also reveals that he almost got it on during a student production of Peter Pan with a girl who, for once, wasn't Lily. But it later turns out that he just fell on top of her when the flying rigging failed, which is a terrible capper to a terrible plotline so let's just get it out of the way and pretend the whole thing never happened.) Finally, Barney shows up to save us all from this painful, painful scene and acts all hurt and confused about Ted's having broken his broath. This inspires a random flashback to Broman Times that ends with Barney-as-Caesar fighting a bunch of ninjas because the episode was apparently running short and the writers dug up a rejected idea from a never-produced Scrubs script in order to pad out the running time. Then Quinn shows up and the Quinn-tervention really goes to shit -- or depending on your perspective, works like gangbusters -- because she and Barney instantly break up. Yay! Run, Quinn, run! Get away from this soul-sucking place and awful people. If it doesn't already exist, we're creating the #FreeQuinn hashtag on her behalf. It's the least we can do.
So despite their plan having succeeded, Ted and the gang are slightly guilty about the way things went down (at least they still have enough self-awareness to feel shame about their behavior) and they trek over to Barney's apartment to apologize. Because this is Barney, apologizing involves all of them taking another broath, this time to never get involved in his personal life again unless "it's an issue of health, national security or he's about to get up on a fatty." But then -- surprise! (Or not.) Quinn enters the room and reveals that this whole thing has been a set-up all along. Realizing that his friends would freak out about Quinn and try to break them up, they conspired to mess with their heads for their own amusement. Realizing how effectively they've been played convinces the quartet that Quinn and Barney are, in fact, the perfect couple. So they stay together -- and even go through with their supposedly fake plan to cohabitate -- while Lily and Marshall and Ted and Robin resolve their own personal dramas for another week. As the episode draws to a close, Future Ted mentions that he and Robin don't see each other for a long time following the non-events of this episode, probably because Cobie Smulders had to go help Nick Fury and The Avengers save the world from that wascally imp Loki. Don't rush home on our account.