With a baby on the way, the inevitable separation between Marshall and Lily and Ted, Barney and Robin is getting closer. Each time the gang’s couple component gets its own storyline, the gap gets wider—and the remaining three are forced to deal with it in this week’s episode.
Ted, Barney and Robin are sad to see Marshall and Lily finally move 46 minutes away to Long Island, but Barney perks up when he decides to take on the position of group leader. With an opening sequence that features snapshots of Barney, accompanied by Barney singing the show’s theme(“Hey Beautiful” by the Solids), Barney insists the gang does something that their domestic contingent would never allow—go to a strip club. As awkward as this is destined to be, Kevin and Robin agree, as the two are caught in a game of what Future Ted calls “early relationship chicken.” Not to be confused with “relationship chicken” (the final days of Barney and Robin’s relationship in which, despite how miserable they were, both refuse to bite the bullet and end things), ERC occurs when neither party denies any suggestion in an effort to seem fun and spontaneous (Arrested Development fans will recognize this from the series of escalating dares leading to Gob’s marriage). Things become increasingly tense. Robin buys Kevin a lap dance. It’s weird. The gang runs into Lily’s Russian stripper doppelganger, Jasmine, and her gargantuan boyfriend.
With Lily and Marshall ignoring his calls, Ted gets drunk and decides to enjoy the new gang: him, Barney, Robin, Kevin, and (as Barney dubs them) Better Lily and Better Marshall. The new couple take them on an all-night journey: first to an underground poker game in a “mostly abandoned” insane asylum, then to a “party” at a slaughterhouse, where they take $200 each for cover and run for it. Robbed, the three confess to needing Marshall and Lily to complete their gang and start the 46 minute trek to Long Island—but not before Kevin and Robin admit to playing Early Relationship Chicken with each other.
In Long Island, Lily’s dad Mickey is overstaying his welcome in the house, taking charge of every detail of the move and treating it as if it’s still his home. Marshall finally explodes and insists him to leave the next day. As soon as he leaves the room, however, Marshall causes a fuse to blow and the house blacks out—which neither he nor Lily, as new suburbanites, know how to fix. Offended by their previous treatment of him, Mickey (who grew up in the house) declines helping. When Lily tells her father that rather than making things easier by staying with them, he’s being a bad dad, Mickey gives in and helps Marshall on his Indiana Jones-like quest to fix the fuse box.
When the sun has risen, Ted, Barney and Robin use their new spare keys to visit Lily and Marshall. After Lily tells her dad he can stay, the original give realize that even though they may not all be within walking distance of McLaren’s, they don’t need their booth to be together.
Marshall: The last time I lived this far from him (Ted) was when I did my semester abroad.
Lily: You never did a semester abroad.
Marshall: That’s what I call the time we lived on opposite sides of campus.
The montage of Kevin and Robin’s early relationship chicken game, which includes stills of them bird watching, sky diving, and taking butcher classes.
Marshall’s trip to the basement to fix the fuse box recalls a two horror films: the first-person amateur filming trained on his face, straight out of the Blair Witch Project, complemented by Mickey playing the part of Jigsaw and taunting him via the house intercom he installed.
Barney: Stop pining over Marshall and Lily. Have some self-respect. Now put this fiver in your mouth so that stripper with the lazy eye can vacuum it up with-
Ted: Barney! I’m allowed to miss them, all right? They’re my two best friends.
Barney: I’m your two best friends!
Drunk Ted, shockingly good at poker and winning every hand, comes up with a remake of Starship’s “We Built This City” with the refain: “We built Chip City/on all your dough."