A quick review of last night's "How I Met Your Mother" coming up just as soon as you make it sound like I've dated a series of Stieg Larson novels.

The comedy of Drunk Marshall, and the surprise appearance of Victoria, gave me hope last week that the show might be getting back on track. But what I really needed to be convinced was an episode like "The Ducky Tie," a mix of funny comedy that didn't sell out the supporting characters and a Ted romantic storyline that felt honest and sincere and reminded me very much of why I used to like that guy once upon a time.

There was no screwing around with Future Ted - whom I believe only narrated the very end of the episode - trying to suggest Victoria might be The Mother. No, this was just providing closure for Ted's earliest, and arguably best (it's her or Robin) significant relationship on the show. It was a chance to see Josh Radnor and Ashley Williams work so well together one last time, to be reminded of early storylines like Game Night, to get a sane outsider's perspective on the gang's weird romantic history, and to set up whatever's coming next with what appears to be a Ted/Robin/Barney/Nora quadrangle of some kind.(*)

(*) This will be tricky to pull off, what with Ted and Robin having no long-term future as a couple. But as we saw last week, and as we've seen so many times in the past, those two characters are very good together, so this could be really interesting. Or it could just be part of an elaborate stall on our way to finding out who Barney marries, which I really don't care about.

And the Barney/Marshall bet was just fun, an example of Barney being both despicable but so meticulous in his evil that you almost have to respect him for it. Lily ultimately has to flash Barney anyway, but he doesn't get to second base and gets stuck wearing the ducky tie for the next year. (And I sure hope the writers have a season's worth of jokes about the tie, or else I'd rather the stakes have involved him being called "Swarley" again.)

My concern with last week's episodes was that they were too focused on future events, when the show has a pretty shaky track record of paying off those kinds of teases. At this stage of the "HIMYM" lifespan, I'd much rather the show concern itself with being entertaining in the present - or, in this case, with a wistful look back at a strong period from the show's past.

What did everybody else think?