7.8/10. This one had three separate stories that each started out pretty rough but pulled their way into being great by the end, which is worth something! The slightest of these was Marshall's story with Daphne and Ted's Stepdad. As a committed Buffy fan, I enjoy Harry Groener as a general rule, but he's just not a good character even as a giant pester to Marshall. That said, the germ at the center of the story is sound, with the ever-yielding Marshall needing to assert himself, and the results being kind of scary. It's a great individual performance from Jason Segel, and even Sherri Shepherd does well with the "what did I just unleash" reaction to it.

Similarly, Ted dragging Cassie through a spiritless trip to the Lighthouse is a drag, with the humor of his resignation at settling being brief but not much fun. And yet, the end of the episode, [spoiler]which shows his proposal to The Mother{/spoiler] is a lovely counterpoint (weak green screen effects notwithstanding), that serves as another instance of the show upping its emotional content by giving us little tastes of the future juxtaposed with sorry ones in the present.

The peak of this is Robin's egg-making competition with Barney's mom. While I like that the show explored the idea that despite numerous complaints about and appearances from Robin's dad, we've heard next to nothing about her mom, the fact that it comes to a head with a scrambled egg showdown was too broad for my tastes, even if I liked the little ringing bell notation for the few facts the gang did know about her mom. That said, the episode included two great moments in this storyline.

The first is the flashback where Barney hugs Robin after learning that she can't have kids. It's those sorts of moments, where Barney acts like a caring human being rather than a sex-crazed psychopath, that are all too scant when the show is trying to sell the Barney-Robin romance. It's a nice little instance of him showing that he cares for Robin with a simple but powerful gesture rather than a zany, misguided scheme. The second is Loretta coming around on Robin after Barney explains all this, and telling Robin to call her mom. Sure, the show doesn't lay that much groundwork for the transition, but Cobie Smulders conveys the quiet pain of her character's mommy issues really well, and makes that moment meaningful.

Again, I have some major issues with where the show goes in its final few seasons, but it's nice to see it still able to make these big, emotional moments land, even if it's a bit of a rocky road within the episode to get there.

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