Coming into this season, I would have argued that there were three major outstanding issues to be resolved on "How I Met Your Mother":
1. The meeting of the mother (obviously)
2. Robin finding true love
3. Barney growing up
Whether or not 2 and 3 are linked is still a matter of debate, but what's not up for debate is through two episodes this season, they're really addressing #3. We saw a bit of a "Barney growing up" moment in the first episode, when he genuinely complimented Robin on how nice she looked (again, hinting that 2 and 3 are in fact leading toward the same resolution), but this episode, "Cleaning House", was a major step forward for Barney.
Because of all the lies his mother told him growing up (lies with good intentions, as we learned, but lies nonetheless), Barney's grown up kind of... well, weird, to put it lightly. And while watching suiting-up, drinking, womanizing, awesome-being Barney has been fun for five-plus seasons, at some point the character has to mature.
In this episode, Barney finally admitted that Bob Barker wasn't his father (and if you haven't been watching the show, that probably made no sense to you), but then talked himself into another delusion when his half-brother James found his real dad. However, by the end of the episode, Barney had come around to reality -- not just on the matter of his father, but in all the aspects of his childhood -- thanks to a very touching scene with his mother.
What I liked best about the scene was that it was sentimental without drifting into "very special episode" territory. And I liked that Barney could have a real moment of growth, without making the whole episode about that. But what I liked most about the episode was the credit-scene gag where James and his father are singing at the piano, and Barney interrupts, as he had earlier in the episode, but this time with an auto-tune machine. It was easily the most I've laughed at a HIMYM episode in awhile.
For more coverage of the 2010-11 television season, visit the AdamReisinger.com TV Reviews home page.