The Wife:

I felt like tonight’s episode was a nice counterpart to season 3’s second episode “We’re Not From Here,” where Barney and Ted pretend to be from places other than New York (France, Kansas) to hook up with some hot New York ladies . . . only to find out that at the end of the evening their intendeds are not, in fact, real New Yorkers: they’re from New Jersey.

And everyone knows New York is far superior to New Jersey. It’s just a fact.

Unfortunately for Ted, his current paramour is a born and bred Jersey girl and has established her life and her daughter’s life in the Garden State. Ted feels like he’s missing out on so many things because he spends so much time on the train commuting between Stella’s beloved Jersey home and his friends’ beloved New York bar, McClaren’s. (He’s even on a first name basis with the train’s late-night regulars, including a rollerskating queen with an afro.) As a solution to the problem, Stella invites the gang across state lines to spend an evening at her place in the best bar in New Jersey . . . her basement.

When faced with an evening of board games in New Jersey instead of their usual Saturday night faire of lots of drinks at McClaren’s, Marshall, Lily and Barney can’t wait to leave, declaring their mutual hatred for New Jersey. They hate being far away from the action, and Ted hates it too, owning more than one t-shirt that declares his hatred for the state and referring to his bowel movements as “dropping a massive New Jersey.” The problem, of course, is that Ted has assumed that his bride-to-be will move to the city with him (foolishly thinking that they would want to occupy his current apartment). Stella, on the other hand, has assumed the opposite. She has a home and a life in New Jersey. Her daughter attends school there. Clearly, Ted should be moving in with her.

Seriously, Ted, just move to Jersey. You wont even need new furniture.

Seriously, Ted, just move to Jersey. You won't even need new furniture.

After Stella sends Ted and Marshall to get beer (as her current beer stock was purchased seven years ago, before she got pregnant with her daughter Lucy), Stella and Ted have it out over whose home state is better, my favorite bit of which centered around which state gets to claim Frank Sinatra. While Stella is right that he was indeed from Hoboken, Ted insists that Sinatra is a New Yorker at heart:

“But which city was he singing about? It’s not ‘Secaucus, Secaucus.'”

The New York v. New Jersey argument is something we all have to face in our lives as we get older and settle down. New York is great. It’s wonderful. It’s a place for the young. It’s vibrant. It’s alive. It’s the city that never sleeps. But perpetual insomnia aside, any city is a place for the young. But while a lot of people do indeed raise families successfully in big cities, Stella’s pro-Jersey argument is a serious consideration for those who choose to move to the suburbs to raise a family. People want their children to feel safe, to go to good schools, to be able to play in a yard and ride their bikes in the street without having to worry about getting hit by oncoming traffic. The question at the heart of the argument is really: are you ready to let go of your single life and settle down to raise a family?

As for me, I like Ted’s compromise of Brooklyn. Brooklyn is Manhattan’s East Bay: close enough to the city so that you can get to all the things you love culturally, but far enough away that your kids can have a yard. My husband and I both grew up in the East Bay, and I think that’s exactly the line of reasoning our parents followed.

Marshall and Lily, of course, have chosen to stick with the city to start their lives together, but Marshall realizes on his trip to Price Co. (so similar to the time when Costco and Price Club merged and became Price Costco) that he actually wants to move to the suburbs, too. He grew up in the wilds of Minnesota with his giant brothers playing BaseIceBall with lots of room to move and grow. Marshall feels at home with the Price Co. shoppers in New Jersey, amazed at how big the aisles are compared to those of Manhattan stores, causing him to declare:

“I’m like some huge monster that came out of the sea to destroy Bodegas! I’m too big for New York!”

I doubt that Marshall and Lily will move out of NYC anytime soon, since they’ve got that money pit in Dowisetrepla to deal with. However, even after Marshall’s outburst, Ted still refuses to see the benefits of New Jersey and Stella begins to realize that perhaps this is not the man to set her hopes and dreams on. Ted goes off to find Stella and sees that their rowdy discussion downstairs has woken Lucy from her slumber. Ted tucks Lucy in and reads her a bedtime story, through which he realizes that maybe a life in New Jersey wouldn’t be so bad because he would finally get what he’s always wanted: a wife and a family.

As for Barney and Robin, Barney spent the episode trying to elicit fist bumps from everyone and refusing to put his arm down until “this first gets the respect that it deserves.” This means lots of lame Barney jokes and Neil Patrick Harris playing up the pain in his arm for laughs. Barney is more than this to me, but I guess it’s all he can do when trapped in a basement in New Jersey for an evening.

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Robin, on the other hand, quits her job at Metro News 1, thinking that she got the job Barney had encouraged her to audition for. Turns out, she only got an audition, which she would have known had she not put her phone down to do a happy dance when she got the call. Desperate, Robin calls her old boss from Stella’s basement to beg for her job back, which he agrees to give her if she can make it in to read the 11 O’Clock News. This starts Robin’s 24-style race from Jersey to Manhattan on Lucy’s bike, which gets her in to the studio just in the nick of time. She reads one line of news, and quits again for good, realizing it’s better to bet on herself than play it safe, as per Barney’s encouragement. At the end of the episode, Robin announces to the gang that she didn’t get the job, but was instead offered a foreign correspondence gig. When she announces that she’s moving to Japan, Barney’s jaw drops in a look that says, “I might lose the only woman I have ever really loved forever.”

Frankly, I can’t wait to see how this Barney and Robin arc plays out. Although, if it doesn’t, I hope to see Barney don some drag to try to “land that lesbian plane” again. Indeed, Marshall, there are no snakes on that plane.

The Husband:

I’m sorry, Ted, but it’s time to face your future and move to New Jersey. Despite the couple you found at Price Co. who said that upon moving from Manhattan to NJ they hadn’t been back to the big city in six years, there are just as many people who do use NJ as a means to live a cheaper, more family-friendly life and still find plenty of time to get back into the Big Apple (with or without their T-shirts with pictures of dogs on them). And, let’s face it Ted, your apartment smells like dude. That’s why Lily wanted her and Marshall to find their own place (seriously, when is their apartment in Dowisetrepla going to get out of escrow and have its slanted floor fixed?).

But as Sarah Chalke (Stella) is not signed up for the rest of the season yet, we can basically foresee this relationship falling apart at some point or another. Next week’s episode concerns Marshall, Lily, Robin and Barney staging a relationship intervention for Ted, because no matter how much he may love Stella, his desire to just get it over with and be married is definitely starting to cloud his judgment.

(I also want to know where Entertainment Weekly got this picture of Stella punching Barney that they used in their weekly TV preview section, because that wasn’t anywhere in this here episode.)

Seriously, this scene did not make it into the final cut of this episode.

Seriously, this scene did not make it into the final cut of this episode.