'How I Met Your Mother' recap: A yearning all-rhyming episode means something good's around the corner, right?

Well, it wasn’t set in Farhampton, right? That’s a positive! Marshall may still have probably 3 episodes to go before he reconnects with the rest of his friends in the present, and, like the Slap Bet, there’s no telling when exactly we might next see the Mother. But an episode far, far removed from the wedding world — and whatever poor guest star has been roped into the action this week — can only be considered an improvement. EVEN if it happens to have been a rhyming episode for no reason at all.

To be fair, lots of sitcoms in the twilight of their lives have pulled stunts like this. Scrubs did it about a thousand times! So there’s no point begrudging HIMYM the opportunity to offer an all-rhyming episode centered around bedtime stories for Marshall and Lily’s son. But still…did they have to? Ostensibly tying each of the three stories, which — okay, let’s run down the stories:

  1. “Mosby at the Bat,” in which Ted tries to figure out whether a cute new professor at school is out on a date with him, or it’s strictly friend zone (the former, but she already slept with Barney)
  2. “Robin Takes the Cake,” in which an emotionally damaged Robin starts wolfing down an entire wedding cake (that she stole) before turning it into some kind of bizarre eating challenge
  3. “Barney Stinson: Player King of New York City,” in which Barney accidentally sleeps with the cute professor from Ted’s story only to find himself in hot water with the “Council of Players,” who he poisons and usurps.

Not much of a common thread there! The rhyming was good, the rhyming was fine, but in no significant way did the gimmick and the stories align (okay, I’m done). The stories were just that — stories, with no real purpose other than to exist and while away another half hour en route to…whatever’s coming. And the most frustrating thing here is that there have been good moments this season, and maybe one decent episode. It still exists! HIMYM isn’t incapable of finding that old magic. But the resignation on display here today — still admiring the rhyming effort tonight, helped in no small part by an assist from Broadway’s Lin-Manuel Miranda — just makes you want to scream. Happy Thanksgiving.