A review of tonight's "How I Met Your Mother" coming up just as soon as I convince you to call me The Convincer...

The last two weeks, I felt as much despair about the present and future of "HIMYM" as I maybe ever have. I hated all the characters, the Mother was suddenly AWOL, Marshall was trapped in this terrible road trip story arc, the other characters were trapped in the misconceived plan to set the whole season at the Farhampton Inn... every idea, joke and person made me cringe.

"Knight Vision" did not feature any significant departures from Farhampton. It did not bring back the Mother. It gave us a whole lot of Daphne after she'd been pretty marginal the last few weeks. One plot involved Ted desperately trying to get laid with another crazy lady(*), while another had Robin and Barney again trying to get a pass on being loathsome human beings.  On paper, it should have left me just as angry and miserable as the previous two.

(*) And how long ago in story-time was his break-up with the Abby Elliott character? Barney made it sound like he hadn't had sex in forever, which is not the case (unless you're Barney, I guess).

And yet I did not hate "Knight Vision." Now, I didn't like it. I didn't laugh at it. But for tired, mediocre latter-day "HIMYM," it was fairly painless. There were even a few moments where it vaguely remembered the show I used to love, and occasionally still enjoy. Seeing Robin/Barney and Lily/Marshall switch roles in the flashbacks was a fun idea that I wish the episode had spent more time on (I'd have gladly sacrificed every second with Cassie for that). Though the Marshall/Daphne road trip idea is dumb whether or not it was done to accommodate Jason Segel's movie career, having Daphne play the role of (and give literal voice to) Lily in the role playing fantasies felt like a "HIMYM"-y idea; similarly, even though Marshall is an idiot and wildly out of character to have not thought of Lily's side of things vis a vis the judgeship, at least he finally did get the point when Daphne explained it enough times. Which is an improvement over pretty much any Robin/Barney story of the last several years. And, hey, at least this particular Robin/Barney story did not try to pretend they were anything less than awful — so awful that Edward Herrmann's minister understandably died rather than have to spend another moment hearing about their gross love story. It doesn't make me like those two any more, but at least it makes me hate the show less when it's not pretending that they are awesome together.

And, look, I'm not made of stone: I've watched "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" enough times, and made "You chose... poorly" jokes enough times with friends, that I felt some level of nostalgic amusement at the knight's frequent appearances, even as I wished that entire subplot had been replaced by seeing the Mother and her band doing whatever they were doing on the Friday before the wedding gig. Your mileage will vary depending on age, gender, fondness for the third Indy movie (which benefits hugely from Sean Connery's presence), etc.

Lowered expectations can be a powerful thing. This wasn't a good half-hour of television, but after the last few weeks, I'd have settled for something vaguely in the realm of competent, and that's roughly what I got.

What did everybody else think?