A review of last night's "How I Met Your Mother" coming up just as soon as I bring up Chucky right before bed...

"Baby Talk" was pretty light on Future Ted narration telling you what it was about (or perhaps I've just learned to mentally tune it out when it isn't setting up a joke), yet was one of the more thematically consistent episodes the show has done in a while, with all the stories spinning off on gender differences, behavior that's more accepted coming from girls vs. boys, etc.

It was also one of the funniest episodes of the season - the Barney subplot in particular - and while that could be a coincidence, I find that the best "HIMYM" episodes tend to be about something.

The show has had a problem in recent years of getting all the characters in tune in the same week, but we got that here. Robin seemed like Robin for the first time in forever, as the "I got this" montage was a reminder that her tomboy qualities were a great source of humor before the writers forgot about them.(*) Barney took his "Challenge accepted!" gimmick to the point where the gang has gotten sick of it, but this was actually one of the better stories in that vein, because it exploited how well Neil Patrick Harris can play Barney as a little boy in a man's suit. Marshall's fear of all the ways a daughter could turn out rang true and was appropriately silly (particularly Esther the stripper's, um, talents), as were the Erickson methods of determining gender.

(*) The one disappointing part of the episode, for me, was when Robin goes to Barney to get affirmation about their relationship. I actually liked what Barney had to say about how awesome her toughness and independence made her, but it was yet another reminder of how badly the writers botched things when they were actually together. Rather than give us at least a few episodes of Barney and Robin being a fun, non-traditional couple, they turned Robin into a more traditional, predictable, lamely disapproving girlfriend, and so of course things had to end quickly. The Robin that Barney describes in that scene would have been his perfect woman, but it's unfortunately not the Robin who was on display at the start of last season. I hold out stubborn hope that one of these years the writers give it another shot and do it the right way.

Ted was pretty minor in this one, but I liked the payoff to the story of him dating Becky. And while Becky's on-camera behavior is pretty ridiculous, virtually everything about Robin's current job has always been, up to and including the belated explanation for why the gang doesn't just record it and watch it later. (Marshall: "Our DVR won't recognize it as a television program.")

I don't want to play the dayenu card, because the episode wasn't an all-time classic or anything, but there's a part of me that feels like if it had included nothing but Robin pulling out Barney's katana and Barney saying "Your body's a perfect this many!," it would have been enough.

What did everybody else think?

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