I've been down on this season of "How I Met Your Mother", mostly because I've felt the show has struggled to strike a balancing between the silly comedy it used to be and the grown-up maturity it's trying to find. Mostly, the former has felt out of place, as the latter deviated further into a depressing malaise (a path the show started on with last season's "Bad News").
However, Monday's episode, "The Broath", seemed to finally find the perfect mix, feeling funny but not incongruous, mature but not depressing, and even twist-y without being formulaic.
The primary driving plot of the episode was Barney introducing his new girlfriend Quinn to his friends, who would inevitably judge her for being a stripper. Barney made Ted swear a bro oath -- a "broath" -- to not tell them, which Ted immediately broke. A disastrous first meeting followed, and the gang held an intervention -- no, a "Quinntervention*" -- for Barney. And when Quinn walked in on that, she was offended... not by the intervention, but that Barney felt he needed to hide the fact that she was a stripper. So she walked out on him.
Only... TWIST! The whole thing, from the broath to the bad first meeting to the reaction to the intervention to the "break up" were all staged, a plot hatched by Quinn and Barney to mess with Barney's friends. The twists on HIMYM have been so predictable for so long that it was quite refreshing to get one that I really honestly did not see coming. And it wasn't a twist for twist's sake; the reveal showed that Quinn may in fact be the perfect woman for Barney.
As it is, Barney's maturation over the last couple seasons has come in fits and spurts, and sometimes felt wholly out of place with the character. This was different, particularly once it got to the end of the episode. It really felt like Barney was growing up, both with his reaction to the Quinntervention then with his aside scenes with Quinn, and it wasn't painful to watch (unlike "Karma", which subverted Barney in an unnaturally frustrating way).
The gag about Marshall's sex stories about Lily was a touch repetitive, but not so much so to distract from the rest of the happenings. And while Ted and Robin continue to be downers, seeing them attempt to compete with each other for Quinn's apartment was a solid distraction for awhile. The lingering thread the episode left with Ted and Robin could end up putting a damper on the rest of this season, but it wasn't enough to take away from what was otherwise a really entertaining episode, the first in a long time that I enjoyed from start to finish.
*I can't imagine Marshall's repeated "Quinn" puns in the intervention scene were a direct reference to the Jeremy Lin puns of "Linsanity", because that'd be really tough for them to have turned around from real-world phenomenon to referential script to air in six weeks, but it added a layer to the joke that made what could've been annoying extra-hilarious instead.