How I Met Your Mother: "The Stamp Tramp"
    Photo courtesy of CBS.

    Due to Quinn's return as Karma at the Lusty Leopard, Barney finds himself in need of a new strip club (which is a shame, considering their impressive Thanksgiving buffet). As the most-desired free agent in New York City, suddenly every gentlemen's establishment in New York tries to recruit him as a regular. Admittedly, I tuned out at this part because it got a bit too Moneyball for my tastes, but after Robin pushes Barney to hold out for better offers, he takes her on as his Strip Club Agent.

    Marshall sees his former colleague and classmate Brad down on his luck, and offers to get him a job interview at Honeywell & Cootes — an idea that everyone else in the group immediately vetoes. Marshall, the sweet, St. Cloud-bred boy that he is, tends to endorse just about anything, so his stamp of approval is worthless, making him a Stamp Tramp (not to be confused with Ted's tramp stamp that kicked off the Stella Era). While it's agreed that Lily's recommendations are A+, Ted is labeled a Piggyback Stamper: someone who gets all their suggestions from other people. Ted sputters, Lily preens and Marshall ignores their advice, despite being on thin ice with Honeywell. After all, Brad can't be left to hawk hotdogs on the sidewalk-- his leg wouldn't fit in the bratwurst costume (unsurprising, considering Joe Manganiello previously portrayed a character named "Big Dick Brad" in Magic Mike).

    Ted, indignant (how many times have I used those two words in the same sentence?) and desperate after finally admitting to being DJ Dr. X in order to claim some cred for turning the group onto a band, digs out his freshman year video diaries in an attempt to prove he was original back at Wesleyan — though Lily correctly points out that he only started the videos after seeing Winona Ryder in Reality Bites. We're treated to sandwich eating, faux-philosophical College Ted (my personal favorite), but after learning that he didn't even come up with Doctor X on his own, Ted's entire self-image is shot. Lily comforts him, saying that nobody is their best in college (a piece of advice that rings pretty true for our cut of the HIMYM audience) — and then they watch a recording of Ted interviewing Marshall after his third date with Lily, and telling him to hold onto her forever. Lily credits Ted with the ultimate stamp; the one that led to her life with Marshall and baby Marvin.

    Brad's interview gets progressively worse — name-dropping his psychic, astrologist and meteorologist all in one breath — after insulting Honeywell's stature, Marshall's judgment is called into question and he's taken off the Gruber Pharmaceuticals trial. Even after his best attempt at fish humor ("What do you call a fish with no eyes? Fsssssssh") Marshall sweats in order to regain Honeywell's trust — showing him funny videos (Ted volunteers his video diaries), giving him snacks and offering fashion advice — until he's placed back on the case. But walking into court, the two see Brad and discover he'd been working for Gruber the whole time, using the interview to learn H&C's strategy and beat them in the trial. Marshall's threatened: win the case, or lose his job.

    Robin and Barney are having an excellent time fielding offers from the likes of Stickies and Lusty Leopard — until she signs him to Golden Oldies ("they're trying to put their grandkids through college!") and he learns she's been bribed with bling. Poor Stinsonatti, Brohio (the B-E-S-T nickname this show has ever crafted) is hurt, and fires her. He ultimately picks Mouth Beach as his club of choice, and to apologize, Robin offers to buy him his first lap dance. Later, on the walk home, both of them are drunk and stumbling, and Barney tells Robin how much fun he has with her — and kisses her. Robin, stunned, says they can't let that happen, and walks away.

    I can't decide whether I'm pleased about R&B getting close again or pissed because the writers pulled rug out from under us so quickly (my exact notes read "WHAT IS THIS BULLSHIT"). Either way, that reunion didn't get the buildup it deserved. But aside from that subplot, this episode was one of the more touching ones the show's given us as of late, and it's refreshing to focus on Lily and Ted's friendship for once. I know we're supposed to be concerned about Marshall potentially getting fired, but in the battle of dueling cliffhangers, it's pretty hard to prioritize the Brand New Issue over the will-they-or-won't-they-well-they-will-eventually-but-it-is-going-to-take-forever-to-get-there couple in which audiences are invested. Next week had better be better.


    Mashall, on Minnesotans: We believe in people. People like Gundren Olsen, the town wino who ended up becoming mayor. We even named a bridge after him - the one he drove off of.

    Barney: Stickies even sent me a boob-shaped hand sanitizer. It's clean and dirty at the same time.

    Barney: Jersey? Long Island? Why would I go to a third world nation to get my knob wobbled?

    Brad: And then I was fired from Bed Bath & Beyond for telling inappropriate jokes. Like get a sense of humor, Lashonda, you know? You know how they are.
    Marshall: They meaning Bed Bath & Beyond employees, right?
    Brad: Huh? no, they meaning women.
    Marshall: ...Still, that could have been worse.


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