How I Met Your Mother’ season 8 sails flaming into the night with its eighteenth episode of the penultimate season “Weekend At Barney's,” as Barney utilizes the surviving playbook to help Ted land a better girl than Jeanette ('SNL's Abby Elliot), while Marshall does his best to avoid embarrassing Lily at an important art gallery.

Last week’s ‘How I Met Your Mother’ episode “The Ashtray” saw Ted, Robin and Lily remembering the last time they encountered The Captain (‘Twin Peaks’ Kyle MacLachlan), while Barney tried desperately to insert himself into the story, so what did tonight’s all-new episode bring?  Are we any closer to learning how the final years for Ted, Robin, Barney, Marshall and Lily play out?

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘How I Met Your Mother’ season 8 episode 18, “Weekend At Barney's!”

Barney dreams of a play perfectly re-enacting the plot to “Weekend at Bernie’s,” before startling awake in the middle of the night, and jolting Robin awake as well. Barney laments that he’s been unable to stop imagining plays since he destroyed the playbook, but Robin reminds him it was that act that made him worthwhile to marry in the first place. Moments later, Barney jerks away again, having dreamed a “Weekend at Barney’s II.”

The next day, Marshall and Lily talk about their impending visit to a Strickland Stevens gallery for Lily’s new job, when Ted arrives to hand-deliver his RSVP to Barney and Robin’s wedding, complete with a +1 for Jeanette. Ted brushes off the group’s dislike of his crazed girlfriend, but when he returns to the apartment, he finds Jeanette trashed the place over what turned out to be a harmless spam e-mail.  Even after apologizing, Jeanette calls it off because of Ted’s own “intensity,” returning an apartment key and his grandmother’s ring…that she was buried in.

Marshall, Ted, Barney and Robin revel in Ted’s breakup, but Ted quickly decides that the sex was too good to let go, and resolves to win her back. Barney heads him off on the way to win back Stella, promising to find him a new girl using a surviving copy of the playbook, while elsewhere, Marshall and Lily prepare to go to the art gallery. Knowing there won’t be food there, Marshall explains that he bought a big bag of Skittles, which Future Ted ominously points out were the last bag of the candy he ever bought.

Ted points out that Robin would likely be upset to learn of the playbook’s survival, but Barney swears him to secrecy. Elsewhere, Marshall and Lily arrive to the gallery to schmooze the artist, but Marshall promises his wife he’ll be fine on his own and won’t commit any major embarrassments. His lame art and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles jokes don’t win him much support from the party guests, but Marshall resolves to make it work for Lily’s sake.

With Barney piped in over earpiece from Ted’s apartment, Ted tries out an increasingly ridiculous series of plays at MacLaren’s, from “The Special Delivery” to “The Kidney,” each ending in failure when Barney invariably directs Ted to mention his penis. Robin arrives at the apartment to surprise Barney, finding the surviving playbook on the couch, as over the monitor we see Ted in the midst of “The Loch Ness Monster.” Robin storms out and Barney chases after her, failing to notice over the monitor that Jeanette showed up and attacked a girl at the bar, getting back with Ted in the process.

Meanwhile at the gallery, artist Strickland Stevens leads the attendees in a minute-long moment of silence in dedication to his grandmother, but the silence quickly abates when Marshall’s Skittles bag tears open, and steadily reigns Skittles to the floor as he tries to blend in with the crowd. Marshall apologizes to Lily, but soon finds that Strickland Stevens shares his love of the Ninja Turtles and bad humor, giving Marshall an opening to introduce the man to Lily.

Barney chases Robin down the street to apologize, not having wanted to destroy the life’s work of his playbook. Robin insists that the book represents his lies, which can’t have any part in their lives if they hope to make a marriage work, but Barney reminds her that his whole life, and even their relationship have their base in his elaborate lies. Barney slowly pulls every magic trick in the book off his person, explaining that his very real love for Robin beneath all the tricks and deception makes the relationship work, and Robin reluctantly accepts the apology.

Back at Ted’s apartment, Ted prepares to celebrate his and Jeanette’s reunion, until Jeanette finds the playbook and promptly flips out. Sometime later, Marshall, Lily, Robin and Barney all find Ted sitting outside his apartment, as Jeanette drops his possessions from the window above. Jeanette prepares to blow up the playbook, and even Barney lends his encouragement as she sets off the fireworks, raining pages of the book all around them. Robin hands back the RSVP to cross off Jeanette’s name, as Ted resigns dating and watches his precious red cowboy boots burn.

"Weekend at Barney's" will see the last 'How I Met Your Mother' until mid-March, closing up the Jeanette arc and launching us into the final six episodes of the season, and not a moment too soon. Recent episodes have delivered some steady laughs here and there, "Weekend At Barney's" included, but it's become apparent the story ran out of gas and had to vamp a bit before delivering a meaningful conclusion. After all, not much of Robin and Barney's resolution from the night breaks any new ground, nor does Marshall raining Skittles provide much payoff to a story about Lily's new job. Adequate 'How I Met Your Mother' is still better than a good deal of crap TV, but "Weekend At Barney's" doesn't make that case very well.

What say you? Did ‘How I Met Your Mother’s latest “Weekend at Barney's” stagger to life, or wind up in ashes on the sidewalk?  Do you think it made for a solid entry to the penultimate season? Join us March 18 for an all-new episode recap of ‘How I Met Your Mother’ episode “Time Travelers” on CBS!