Joshradnor_howimetyourmother_s3_240 This has been my first season watching How I Met Your Mother. And that was mostly just because I kept the TV on after watching The Big Bang Theory. But man is this some good writing! And I am not just saying that because tonight featured a character whose longest sex drought beat mine by quite a stretch! Though that didn’t hurt. I may not have the smooth mojo of your usual recapper, but I am throwing some spoiler protection in my purse, just in case.

Case in point: Most sitcoms would pander to the most fickle element of the audience and resolve the conflict between Ted and Barney tonight. I don’t think I need to tell you that HIMYM is not the usual sitcom, however. It is made clear enough when in the first five minutes Ted tells Barney to stop calling him, but I even expected that. What I did not expect was for them to also address why Ted is madder at Barney then he is at Robin, despite the fact that they likely had the same amount of sex with each other. He doesn’t give a very convincing response, mind you, but they addressed it! Before steaming right into Ted’s new relationship with Stella.

It seems that they are 2 months into their relationship and haven’t yet done the deed. It is a fact that the gang finds staggering enough, but when Ted pairs it with the fact that he recently found out that she had not had sex in five years… well, we have our recurring joke. Marshall reminds us of all the things that occurred in 2003, such as Seabiscuit had just "galloped into theaters and our hearts" and we were just learning about SARS. Such an innocent time.

Less innocent is Barney, who is embarking on a new relationship of his own. With even less success, as it turns out. He’s looking for a new wingman and despite originally telling Randy that the position was for the vice president of awesome and he was the assistant undersecretary of only OK, he ends up taking him on anyway. Well, after he has exhausted tons of other contacts who are all otherwise involved in significant relationships (bros or otherwise) or married with children. This might give most men pause, but not Barney! He’s off to the bar to train a new legend!

Where Barney may have high expectations for his new wingman, Ted is trying to make sure that Stella doesn’t have ridiculously high expectations for her first romantic encounter in half a decade. She assures him she’s keeping realistic and even points out that she doesn’t require an elaborate evening of horse drawn carriages and symphony orchestras in the park, she’s just looking forward to finally having a night out. Which is when Lily says she would explode if it had been that long since her last night out. And Marshall adds that sometimes Lily wakes him up in the middle of sleep for a night out. It’s pretty clear that their wink-wink, nudge-nudge entendres are not shared by Stella. What’s more, she decides she can’t trust Ted, since he told her most personal information to his friends and she calls the whole thing off.

Barney is having about the same luck with his wingman Randy, who takes socially awkward to new extremes as he hides under tables and calls a potential date an "ugly whore" as his version of Barney’s patented subtle put-down. All this after he practically re-enacts a scene from Lord of the Rings where Gollum argues with himself about his own self-worth. Barney even calls in Robin to help out, which provides the reveal that Randy gets a nosebleed whenever he gets an erection. Robin points out to Barney that Randy is just his rebound Bro and though he tries to deny it, he has to admit it’s not the same as Ted. Even when he does send Randy off with a woman, nosebleed and all, under the fluffed up personal history of his time as a New York City cop, he misses his former partner in crime.

There are no nosebleeds for Stella and Ted, but they do get a resolution of their own. Stella comes back to apologize to him, admitting that she’s scared by their relationship and used the fact that he revealed her past to his friends to try and get back to safer ground. But she tells him she’s ready to move forward with him. And no, it’s not the steamy sex scene we might expect from other shows… but her introducing him to her daughter, Lucy — something else she hasn’t done with a man in many many years.

We don’t get a giant final moment of this show to rival the last two weeks, where we ended with Robin and Barney in bed and Ted telling Barney he didn’t want to be friends anymore. But we do get a final moment of Ted in bed with Stella. It may just be a motel down by the interstate, but apparently Virginity Loss the Sequel went rather well. Only time will tell if Barney can find a place back in Ted’s life. And while I don’t think Robin will be at his side, she may help him find his way there.

What were your favorite moments tonight? Are you looking forward to the return of Brit-Brit next week? Could she be the bridge that brings Barney back into the fold or are you content to let this relationship remain unresolved and in limbo?