A quick review of last night's "How I Met Your Mother" coming up just as soon as my life turns into an angsty, existential Italian black-and-white movie...

Let's look for silver linings in this one, shall we? Well, Ted at least pointed out that Barney is acting pretty repellent for a guy who's due to get married in a few weeks, which is something the show needed to do by now. And Marshall using the same ridiculous Italian phrase over and over to get his point across to LIly (who has always been able to understand her man) was a charming moment, nicely played by Jason Segel.

The rest, though, was a representative sampling of so many of the problems of this season: characters making dumb and/or obnoxious decisions for the sake of jokes that didn't land, or stories that didn't work. For Lily to make that big decision without talking to Marshall not only once, but twice, was awful; ditto Marshall concealing the sorry state of the law firm for that long. (Stories about Lily and Marshall's careers and finances have generally been a "HIMYM" weakness, though, even in the better years.) And once again, rather than elevating both characters, the Robin/Barney relationship has dragged them down together. The writers are overcompensating for the idea of Barney settling down by emphasizing his horndog qualities, and then in turn trying to make it seem okay because Robin just has to accept that this is the guy she married. Ted's warning in the closing minutes at least suggests there may be an interesting emotional payoff down the line, but A)we'll have had to suffer through a lot of junk to get there, and B)that could just lead to more ups and downs and teases, when what "HIMYM" really needs right now is a story that actually goes forward without screwing around.

What did everybody else think?