The summer of love is over: as elder Ted explains to the kids, there are no good stories about everything going right -- it's time to skip ahead to an Autumn full of breakups. The trouble starts when Barney tries to get Quinn to sign an all-encompassing, thoroughly unrealistic prenup; the idea of renegotiating relationship terms spreads throughout the group, and romantic disagreement shenanigans ensue.
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Battle of the Sexes
For Lily and Marshall, the disagreement centers on treatment of Baby Marvin: Marshall likes to roughhouse with the baby a bit, while Lily holds him to a high standard of safety. Robin has a much stranger issue: she gets turned on watching herself do the news during sex, and even winks to her future self during the taping. Unfortunately, her new boyfriend Nick finds this distracting.
Ted and Victoria, meanwhile, are now hosting her German ex-fiance Klaus at their apartment--they've moved in together apparently, and "Hero Ted" invites the sad, broken former lover of his girlfriend to move in, multiple aggressive pet ferrets in tow. His grandstanding is fairly obnoxious for Victoria, while Klaus's presence is understandably draining for Ted, in spite of the fact that it's all his fault.
Barney enlists Ted, Marshall, and his lawyer co-worker Arthur (Bob Odenkirk) to back him up in his struggle for marriage domination, while Quinn drafts a counter-prenup with the help of the shows female regulars. They're all having a grand old gender war, until Arthur shakes them from their squabbling: having lost his own love, he implores them to make peace and cherish each other. Everyone instantly opens their heart and resolves their issues, and Barney and Quinn realize that they simply don't work as a couple.
To be honest, this was one of How I Met Your Mother's weaker episodes. The prenup gag felt untrue to Barney and Quinn's relationship, and the silly battle-of-the-sexes humor was excessively broad--the show has consistently demonstrated itself to be too self-aware for such a played-out dynamic. Those issues aside, however, the real betrayal came in the aggressively over-scored confessions of the episode's finale: the "emotional" music and explicit declarations of motivation reached a Full House level of sentimentality and cheesiness.
That said, Robin's bizarre obsession with watching herself during sex felt very true to the show at its best. While the necessary mechanics of breaking and building relationships may fall a little flat, at least the show's excess is always gloriously absurd.
(Image courtesy of CBS)