In a charming story line that brought the Ted and Marshall friendship back to top form and their adorable nerdiness to the foreground, they made Stella (Ted’s new fiancee, Sarah Chalke) watch Star Wars(Ted’s favourite movie) for the first time. Not only is it always fun to be reminded that these are not the cool kids, but my favourite thing about this show is the central friendships and Marshall’s concern about Ted marrying the right woman really showed their connection in a way that hasn’t been explored on this show very often since season 2.

On a different friendship note, it was nice to see the Lily-Barney friendship getting some airtime. The casual viewer might not notice Barney’s special connection to Lily but a true fan will remember that Lily was the first and only person to ever spend time in Barney’s apartment and it was her who first cracked the surface of his playboy veneer when she showed him how great it is to be in a relationship (the episode I’m referring to is in season 2 when Lily stays with Barney briefly, pretending to be his wife in order to ward off lingering one night stands).

But, for the first time in awhile with How I Met Your Mother, I loved every storyline. In fact, the lovely stories I’ve already described weren’t even my favourites of the episode. My favourite was Barney. It was revealed, albeit subtly, in last season’s finale that Barney has feelings for Robin (which I totally buy and doesn’t feel like a cheap plot point). In tonight’s episode he confesses to Lily what he’s been struggling with all summer, that he’s in love with Robin. The seeds of not only Barney’s humanity but his romanticism having been planted as early as season 1 but hidden beneath his protective armour of designer suits and catchphrases, it was truly fascinating to see this beloved character struggle with letting himself be open to both love and rejection. His scenes were sweet and endearing while still staying true to the established character. Barney’s struggle within himself and Robin’s ignorance of his true feelings are sure to make this season a must-watch for anyone, HIMYM fan or not.

I simply cannot wait until next Monday at 8:30pm.