'How I Met Your Mother' Review: "Ring Up!"

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How I Met Your Mother’ season 8 puts a ring on it with its fourteenth episode of the (no longer) final season “Ring Up!” as Ted dates a much younger woman ('Pretty Little Liars' Ashley Benson) at Barney's insistence, while Robin laments that her engagement ring makes her invisible to men, and Marshall finds a hazardous way to spice things up with Lily.

Last week’s ‘How I Met Your Mother’ episode "Band or DJ?” saw Ted confronting his feelings about Robin’s engagement to Barney, while seeking the approval of Robin Sr. (Ray Wise) caused difficulties for Barney and Robin, and Marshall and Lily got backed up dealing with Marvin, so what did tonight’s all-new episode bring?  Are we any closer to learning how the year for Ted, Robin, Barney, Marshall and Lily plays out?

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘How I Met Your Mother’ season 8 episode 14, “Ring Up!”

At MacLarens, Ted rushes to tell the gang how he heroically lifted a car off a woman, but they can’t see past the leather cuff adorning his wrist. Ted explains that the cuff got him a date, though she can’t come in to the bar because, gasp, she’s only 20! The girl leaves before the gang can rush out to see her, but Barney expresses his relief that days of chasing bimbos are behind him. Next, Robin shows the gang her re-sized ring, an heirloom Barney’s half-sister was none-too-pleased to see go to Robin.

The next day, Ted tells the gang how little he can understand of his new girlfriend’s vocabulary, food choices and club scenes, while her fetish for older men has her believing that Ted was in Vietnam. When the gang leaves, Marshall tries on Ted’s cuff, to which Lily immediately becomes hot and bothered concocting a fantasy about Marshall being a drug-addled musician.

Upstairs, Robin interrupts Marshall and Lily’s passion to complain that men suddenly aren’t falling all over themselves to give her free things as they used to. Marshall explains that women wearing wedding rings become invisible to men, and even Robin becomes fearful of its awful curse. Elsewhere, Barney wakes Ted in the middle of the night and claims to be in a one-night stand detox withdrawal, needing Ted to sleep with his new girlfriend so Barney might live vicariously through him. Ted reluctantly agrees, annoyed by Barney’s borrowing of his dream journal and winking implications that he hooked up with Ted’s mom.

The next day Robin continues to struggle even for a beer at the bar, while Marshall has dressed himself to Lily’s fantasy in spite of the allergic reaction he has to the cuff. He insists on keeping up the charade to keep up their post-baby sex-life, while Robin tries once more to get a beer, ultimately relenting by removing her ring. The men immediately part, but go back to ignoring a now-invisible Robin once she slips the ring back on.

In bad shape, Barney calls Ted to learn of his progress, though Ted can’t find any common ground with the girl, TV, sports or even books. Just as Ted goes to break up with her however, Carly reveals her love of 'Star Wars' (at least the prequels), and the two kiss. Later, Ted reports to Barney that he finally slept with the girl, but when Barney finally sees a picture, he sees that Ted’s new lady is none other than his half-sister Carly!

While Barney laments the universe’s karmic retribution, Ted insists Barney deserves it for his behavior over the years, particularly with Ted’s mom. Upstairs Lily and woozy Marshall try their passion once again, but Marshall’s absurdly swollen hand snaps them out of it. Lily insists they don’t need gimmicks to have sex, but Marshall passes out before they can attempt the deed once more.

Barney invites Ted over to forgive him, but shortly after Ted arrives Carly shows up as well, and Barney reveals an entire staff ready to set up their wedding. Meanwhile, Robin continues lamenting the ring, but a still-woozy Marshall assures her that finding that one special person outweighs any previous perks.

Back at his apartment, Barney insists to Ted that he marry Carly lest their relationship be a sleazy one-night stand, but Ted points out that Barney’s abhorrence of the idea of one-night stands signals that his detox period has finally ended. Barney basks in the revelation, but still insists that Ted and Carly keep separate, to which the pair teasingly wink at him.

Barney arrives to MacLaren’s as Robin realizes she has indeed found that one special person, particularly one that will get her drinks whenever she asks. Subsequently, Ted arrives in a fedora, having met another poorly-chosen girl.

Before the credits, Marshall watches Lily wearing a pair of mistakenly delivered mom jeans, and begins having the same kinds of elaborate fantasies as his wife. Roll credits!

Now that most of impact of Barney's big proposal to Robin in mid-season finale "The Final Page, Part 2" has abated, it seems like 'How I Met Your Mother' has returned to its more stand-alone storytelling. That doesn't make "Ring Up!" a bad episode per se, but after some quality outings in recent weeks we found it a bit hard to (figuratively) get behind Ted's new girlfriend, or Marshall and Lily's latest domestic hiccup. Barney's "one-night stand detox" as well as Robin's relinquishing of her own ego did make for some small character development, but we're hoping a clearer plan for the season is in place soon, particularity with long-awaited news of season 9.

Was ‘How I Met Your Mother’s latest “Ring Up!” a shot of life, or did it feel a few sizes too small?  Do you think it made for a solid entry to the no-longer-final season? Join us next week for an all-new episode recap of ‘How I Met Your Mother’ Canada-tastic episode “P.S. I Love You” on CBS!

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