“How I Met Your Mother” Recap: We’re Not From Here

This week’s episode (sadly, the first Mandy Moore-less one of the season) begins with Lily and Marshall explaining the concept of “death folders” to Ted and Barney. Should either husband or wife die unexpectedly, the folders are supposed to include any pertinent information that the surviving spouse might need to settle the affairs of the deceased — and, as Marshall learns during the conversation, they are also supposed to include a personal letter. Realizing that all Lily would find upon opening his folder are a bunch of bank statements and a list of funny things to do with his ashes (No. 6: Marshall brownies), he decides to compose a heartfelt message for his future widow.

Meanwhile, Robin tries to convince everyone that her post-breakup vacation has changed her, and that the old Robin was left behind in Argentina. The new Robin says things like, “A drum circle — they’re different every time!” and has an album of vacation photos that looks like a “Where’s Waldo of exposed genitalia.” Barney maintains that it’s just a matter of time before the old Robin returns and dumps Gael (Enrique Iglesias), who, of course, arrives in the middle of the conversation, prompting the rest of the gang to start talking in big words that are outside of his limited English vocabulary. It works, as Gael, in his best contribution during his two-episode guest stint, says, “What are we talking about — baseball?”

Later, Marshall sits down to pen his letter to Lily. After professing his love to her — and warning her that if he dies suspiciously, to trust no one (Not even Ted. Especially not Ted.) — he opens her letter to him and finds only an ATM PIN, pension info and instructions to cancel her Vogue and Elle subscriptions.

In the next scene, Barney and Ted make a discovery of their own: that every woman in McLaren’s is hanging on to every one of Gael’s “slightly mispronounced” words. Wanting to get in on the action, they decide to pose as out-of-towners Ignatius Peabody Nobel and, um, Ted from East Westerton, Missouri. The ruse works, at least initially, as they pick up two “genuine” New Yorkers to show them around the city.

Back at Robin’s, Gael has invited his new traveling friends to crash indefinitely, and Robin begins to realize that maybe she doesn’t want to be Vacation Robin anymore — and that there seems to be sand everywhere in her apartment, despite the fact that no one’s been to the beach in weeks.

Barney and Ted go sightseeing with their new ladyfriends, and the first stop on the tour is one of 57 “spudtacular” East Coast locations of a cheesy chain restaurant called Tater Skinz. From there, they head to a dangerous neighborhood for a party and get mugged. And just as their ruse is about to pay off with some “thank God we’re alive” sex — which, according to Barney, is even better than “I can’t believe you just proposed to me” sex (which he’s had four or five times) — the girls reveal that they’re actually from New Jersey, not New York, which is a deal-breaker for Ted.

That night, in a dream, Robin confronts Vacation Robin, and realizes that Vacation Robin is actually pretty lame. That doesn’t stop the two of them from almost making out, but it does cause Robin to kick out her unwanted house guests and break up with Gael. Later, at McLaren’s, she reveals to Barney that, in a later dream, she and Vacation Robin actually went all the way: “She may be sandy, but that chick knows what I like.”

As for Marshall and Lily, after having it out over Lily’s lack of commitment to the death folder, she agrees to write a letter that includes lots of dirty stuff and a couple of Polaroids. The issue is settled. At least until Nov. 1, 2029.

All in all, it was a solid but not spectacular episode. It definitely could have used some Mandy Moore and maybe a little more Robin-on-Robin action. Maybe next week …

Highlights: Robin and Vacation Robin almost making out in a dream; future Marshall and future Lily getting into an argument because Marshall opened Lily’s death folder and Lily didn’t leave any dirty Polaroids

Best Barneyism: “We are on the cusp of going from out-of-towners to in-their-pantsers.”