Lily and Marshall host an early morning TV-watching Pajama Party, so the gang can finally watch Robin's show. When Ted arrives, still wearing street clothes, he announces that he and Karen have broken up, because she found one of Robin's earrings in Ted's bed. Karen wouldn't believe Ted hadn't been cheating. She then walked out on him, after he stressed he's been the historically faithful partner. As Ted changes into his jammies in Marshall and Lily's bedroom, he spies the match to the earring Karen found in his bed. Ted confronts Marshall about it -- assuming he planted its twin. He mutes the TV, which is showing Robin's COME ON, GET UP NEW YORK! show. Lily finally admits she planted the earring to break up Karen and Ted. In her defense, Lily presents the Front Porch Test. Whenever Ted's been dating someone for a while, Lily imagines the four of them together in their dotage, playing Bridge on the front porch of their beach house. Karen failed; she had to go. Lily admits to having done this before, but never when a girl showed promise -- like Victoria or Stella. When Ted realizes Robin's name is notably absent from Lily's list of exceptions, he calls her on it. She admits that she did try to get Ted and Robin to talk about their issues, but only accidentally fed them the words that led to their breakup.
The next night at MacLaren's, Karen takes Ted back, because Lily confessed her manipulations. Lily's note of apology informs Ted that she's set up a surprise for him and Karen, in his apartment. Karen tells Ted that they can never again have anything to do with Lily, so Ted tries out the Front Porch Test on Karen -- imagining sitting there with her, while reading Marshall's obituary, after years of separation. He then dumps her, because although it shouldn't matter what his friends think of his girlfriend, it matters what his girlfriend thinks of his friends. With Robin, Ted enjoys the dinner Lily left him and Karen. And in a scene overflowing with unresolved sexual tension and unfulfilled romance, he and Robin talk about their relationship, and make a pact that if they're still alone at age 40, they'll be each other's backup.
Meanwhile, in the B-Plot, Marshall turns Barney on to the glories of the nightshirt. And in the C-Plot, Robin has a really big night at work, which her friends completely miss. I'll be back tomorrow with the full weecap. Until then, mahalo, little Barney.
At its outset, I did not have high hopes for How I Met Your Mother's fourth season, but once I got to know your mother's fourth season (sorry), I found myself more in love with it than I ever expected. Somewhere around "Wooo!", the worm turned (and yeah, I'm sort of abusing that phrase, but let's just go with it). The season hit its stride -- and hasn't looked back. I know "The Front Porch" has elements in it that are less than popular, particularly among some hardcore Barney/Robin fans, but it's among my favorite episodes of the season. The writers and director use restraint with the more over-the-top antics -- leaving them in the background, so they only season the story; they don't overwhelm it. But best of all, like any good episode of How I Met Your Mother should, "The Front Porch" plays with our perception of time, takes risks with characterization, and thwarts the tendency to become overly romantic by being...unapologetically romantic. So, let's get to it -- shall we?
Over a shot of Ted and Karen happily entering MacLaren's, Saget!Ted narrates that in March of 2009, they had been dating for a few weeks. When get to the booth, not only are Lily and Marshall openly apathetic when greeting the couple, so are Barney and Robin. Say what you will about the Duke and Duchess, at least they're gracious enough to pretend they're oblivious to Ted's friends' open hostility. How bad is it? Marshall golf-claps when Ted announces they can't stay long. Then again, future-Ted is our narrator, isn't he, and he's less than reliable, so perhaps his friends' lack of manners and his own heaping helping of grace should be taken with a grain of salt.
Karen notices Robin's new diamond earrings. Robin takes her interest as a compliment, but of course Karen is working the conflict diamond angle, and is anything but complimentary, because she's the Duchess. And no, I'm not cheerleading for the diamond industry here, but when you really care about a cause, there's a time, a place, and a way to educate people about it -- one that engages their interest and (hopefully) wins them over to your side. Embarrassing them and condescending to them ain't never gonna get the job done. I don't care what the cause is. Karen sneers that exploited miners in Sierra Leone would be high-fiving Robin's bargain shopping, if only they had all their fingers, and then takes her leave, telling Ted she'll meet him upstairs. Once she's out of earshot, Robin says, "They only need one finger to give her what I'm thinking."