7.8/10. Two quality episodes in a row despite a few clunkers preceding them! I can't say I loved the presence of Darren (man, HIMYM was really into broadway standouts at this point in its run), but I did enjoy the idea of a firestarter who brought to the fore issues between Robin & Lily and Ted & Barney respectively. Delving into the issue of how Marshall's dream vs. Lily's dream would affect the group (with Robin admitting that she selfishly wants Marshall to win because it would keep Lily there) is a nice beat for those involved, and Ted establishing that "The Dream" is going to jail for a bro, and then risking that very thing on Barney's behalf works really well in addition.

Plus, Cristin Miloti continues to absolutely own the role as The Mother. It's nice to get a brief reprise of "Marshall vs. The Machines," but Miloti pairs with Segel quite well and shows how The Mother fits with the gang before she and Ted ever actually cross paths. The way Marshall advises her to stand up for herself against Darren when it comes to keeping her band is a nice touch (not to mention her driving gloves). Plus, her fretting over karma, only for Ted to punch Darren (thereby letting The Mother become lead singer of her band again) and leading her to buy "whoever the best man is" a drink of expensive scotch is a wonderful way to have Ted and his future love's paths cross without them actually meeting.

Overall, it's a nice little upswing for the show this season after a few prior stumbles.

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