The Wife:

Ted’s little sister Heather, known as the wilder and less responsible Mosby sibling, informs her brother that she’s going to be in town for Christmas because she’s planning on moving to NYC. Ted isn’t thrilled at this prospect, as he secretly hates how irresponsibly Heather has lived her life. He also is afraid that Barney will try to sleep with her, as every year he makes up a new Christmas carol about fucking Ted’s sister whenever he sees the Mosby family Christmas card. (Once, he wrote a Hanukkah song that involved the line “and with her boobies I will play.”)

“You’re like Weird Al Yankovic if he only wrote Christmas songs about banging my sister.” – Ted

When Heather arrives, Ted tries to divert Barney, but Barney is already waiting, scotch in hand in a rented swively chair, at Ted’s apartment, ready to greet the Mosby he’s waited so long to meet. In preparation for her arrival, Barney has made dinner reservations for Ted, Lily, Heather and himself uptown. While that foursome heads out to dinner, Marshall takes a homesick Robin to the bar he heads to whenever he gets a little homesick for Minnesota. It’s a glorious sports bar filled with men who are real men (not 10% girl, as Robin says all New York men are, while the camera cuts over to Barney at the dinner table, ordering in highly overpronounced French); it’s the kind of place where everybody knows your name when you walk through the door.

Heather Mosby, enchante.

Heather Mosby, enchante.

At dinner, Heather asks Ted to co-sign her new lease, which he hesitates to do, fearing that Heather will do some crazy like throw a kegger and destroy the apartment, sticking him with the damages. She tries to assure her brother that she’s really serious about turning over a new leaf and getting into the finance industry, at which point Barney, taking the opportunity to make himself look good, offers her an interview at GNB. Lily, who can’t keep secrets around the holidays, offers to tag along to Heather’s interview to make sure things go as planned, under the guise of having lunch with Marshall. (As mentioned, that secret doesn’t stay a secret for more than 5 minutes. Lily blatantly blurts out that she’s going to tag along to spy on Heather.) After the interview, Heather goes for a walk with her brother and visits a Prada briefcase in a shop window, which Ted immediately assumes she wants to shoplift. Heather once again tries to tell her brother that she’s not the same girl she used to be as a teenager, but when she goes inside to visit the bag, Lily can’t help but tell Ted what she saw at the interview. Despite her futile attempt to defend Heather by explaining that “every woman has a shoplifting phase,” Lily can’t stop herself from blabbing that Heather had sex with Barney.

Meanwhile, over at the bar, Robin is quickly falling in love with Minnesota. Marshall tries to explain to her how important the Vikings are by recounting the story of the 1999 Championship loss that was universally crushing to all Vikings fans (who must slam their fist on the table and say, “Damn!” anytime the loss is mentioned). Enraptured, she starts to tell Marshall about how much the bar reminds her of some of her favorite things from Canada, but he quickly shushes her, warning her that no one at the bar must find out she’s Canadian, lest they kick her out for good and razz her endlessly for being afraid of the dark. (The dark, it seems, is the only thing Canadians really fear.) Later, Robin starts masquerading as a real Minnesotan, going so far as to steal Marshall’s story about the 1999 Championship being the only time he’s ever seen his father cry and committing the greatest of all sins by beating his all-time high score in the arcade game Fisherman’s Quest. Outraged at her appropriation of his culture, Marshall outs Robin as Canadian. Instantly, the bar turns on her and kicks her out, but not before she can try to feebly defend her people one last time:

“We’re not afraid of the dark. We don’t love it. But who does?” – Robin

At McClaren’s, Barney and Heather exchange double entendres about finance, which drives Ted to confront them about what Lily saw. (Lily tries to avoid this whole situation by awkwardly talking about the McClaren’s coasters.) Barney tells Ted that the whole thing was a set-up to feed Ted’s prejudice against both Barney and Heather. They knew Lily would confess, so they did a convincing job of making it look like they had just had sex in order to meet Ted’s low expectations of them – the sort of fatherly expectations we’ve seen Ted have of all of his friends. Barney, of course, would never sleep with his bro’s sister. It’s in the Bro Code. And Heather really isn’t the same person she was when she was young. Seeing that Ted failed her test, Heather is prepared to leave but finds the Prada briefcase she had admired in her bags as she packs to go. Inside it is a copy of the lease that Ted co-signed for her. This visit made Ted realize that he actually didn’t know Heather at all, but that he absolutely wants to. Cue holiday hugs and awws.

Feeling some remorse for getting Canadian Robin (who doesn’t wear a coat during New York winter and actively eats ice cream outdoors) kicked out of his Minnesotan refuge, Marshall apologizes to her. She tells him that this is the first Christmas she hasn’t had a reason to stay in New York – no job, no boyfriend – and that makes her extremely homesick. Marshall assures her that if she ever moved back to Canada, the whole gang would get on the next train or plane to whatever part of the Great White North she finds herself in and drag her back. Canadian and all, New York is her home now. Instead of letting her go, Marshall takes Robin to a Canadian refuge she can call her own: the Hoser Hut, a place where you can bump into someone and they’ll automatically offer you a conciliatory doughnut. Robin feels immediately at home, even when all the Canadians cower in fear when Marshall accidentally turns off the light, and even when Marshall, pretending he’s from Ontario, goes up to lead the whole bar in a karaoke rendition of Robin Sparkles’ “Let’s Go to the Mall.” Nothing says home like karaoke renditions of your old pop records. Or, more accurately: nothing says home like being mildly embarrassed by your friends in public.

I was not a huge fan of the Ted-Heather story this week, although it was worth it for Barney’s naughty Christmas carols. Do we really need this much more evidence that Ted is kind of a blowhard? We know that he has ridiculous expectations for people and we know what happens when people don’t meet those expectations. But I’m interested to see how Heather fits into the group, if she will, and what Heather, in general, means for the rest of the series. Is she integral to meeting the mother? I can’t imagine she is because Ted has never mentioned her before, to my knowledge. In short, I just hope that there’s a good payoff for this Heather set-up, because it’s not entirely working for me right now.

I did, however, love the Robin and Marshall story this week. It’s nice to know that Marshall cares about his wife’s best friend just as much as she does. Cobie Smulders was really funny in these bits this week, adopting a Minnesotan accent to blend in, just as Jason Segal later did at the Hoser Hut. But as nice as this story was for Robin and for its Canadian jokes, its greater purpose seemed to be to make me love Marshall just that much more. He’s truly a gentle giant – willing to share his favorite things with you, but fiercely territorial when you try to take them from him. But most importantly, he’s a good friend and a good husband. Truly, Marshall is Mr. Awesome.

The Husband:

I had to look her up after another bout of “hey, I recognize that actress,” but the person playing Ted’s younger sister (who, no, has not been mentioned as far as I can recall) is Erin Cahill. Apparently she was a Pink Power Ranger (as in one that isn’t recent mother Amy Jo Johnson) and was one of the many unfortunate actors who had to appear in all those lame short films on Steven Spielberg/Mark Burnett’s failed summer reality show On The Lot. I had to be reminded, though, that she played the romantic interest of the lead in Fox’s short-lived sitcom Free Ride, which battled with the far funnier The Loop for a second season. (The Loop, which won, ended up being postponed so horrendously that it aired its second season in two-episode chunks on Saturdays while its lead moved on to star in CW’s Reaper.)

She was very funny on Free Ride, though, and I hope that she can remain here on HIMYM. Maybe Barney really does fall for her (or she falls for Barney), thus complicating the Barney-Robin relationship, thus complicating the Ted- Barney relationship, thus complicating the Ted-Robin relationship. The show hasn’t added any new characters in four seasons, though, only really relying on Sarah Chalke and Ashley Williams for some extended arcs. I don’t want this to become a Cousin Oliver situation, though, so I won’t try to jinx anything.

So what rocked about this episode as far as stuff my wife did not mention?

  • When Robin is beating Marshall’s score on Fisherman’s Quest, somebody in the crowd proclaims that she may reach the legendary “gill screen,” a play on the “possible kill screen” we all learned about in King Of Kong: A Fistful Of Quarters and later in a recent episode of Chuck. (“Possible Kill Screen” was also the name of the penultimate episode of The Shield’s final season, which somebody definitely needs to explain to me, because I can’t think of what the hell it would be in reference to.)
  • The fact that Robin’s big talk of Canada involves how one can be served alcohol at a full-nude strip club. While it’s true in California and New York (the two I know) that if you serve alcohol, the strip club can only be topless, I know for a fact (yes, sorry) that the Canada rules can also apply in Atlanta. Yes, I went to a strip club in Atlanta. Wanna fight about it?
  • Robin, embarrassed during the final karaoke sequence, slowly putting a hockey goalie mask over her face. Hey Robin, be thankful that they sang your better song and not the sappy and far more embarrassing “Sandcastles in the Sand.”
Seriously, this could have been much worse.

Seriously, this could have been much worse.