'How I Met Your Mother': Barney is broken and Hey Nanny Nanny is real

how-i-met-your-mother-nannies.jpg"How I Met Your Mother" covered a lot of familiar ground in "Nannies": Barney's elaborate sex deceptions causing trouble for the gang, a competition about who's the better couple, even a name-check of a website the show has built in the real world.

(Yes, HeyNannyNanny.com exists. Currently it displays a warning about Barney, with links to a couple of his past aliases and a rundown of the lies he may tell in order to sleep with you. Guess the nannies reported him to the service after beating him down on the street.)

For all the seen-it-beforeness of the episode, though, the pace and the jokes flowed pretty well, and it ended on a sweet note with Lily and her dad, Mickey, proving maybe he's not the world's worst father after all. And hey, the show's two remaining doomed couples survived another week, so there's that.

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That Robin and Nick and Ted and Victoria managed to keep going, even though Nick is way too emotional for Robin and Victoria is way too messy for Ted (although, really? A baker doesn't wash her dishes?), is thanks in large part to the mess that is Barney after his breakup with Quinn. The show has kind of shrugged off Barney's past stabs at relationships, but even he, apparently, can only take so much.

A little bit of the desperate Barney we saw post-beatdown goes a long way -- and we'll ignore the episode-ending tag if you will. Still, the acknowledgment that he actually might want to change his ways is a nice one, even if the Bangtoberfest schtick we went through to get to that point was a rehash of "The Playbook" and any number of other Barney schemes.

Similarly, Robin and Ted's ongoing burn-fest about who was in the better relationship is reminiscent of another Season 5 episode, "Bagpipes," in which Barney and Robin front about how awesome they are as a couple. The one-upmanship, however, also felt enough like something Ted and Robin would do that it wasn't hard to go along with it.

The one unfamiliar element was Mickey proving he could intentionally do good, and the novelty of that made it the strongest thread of the evening. In the past it's felt more like Lily forgives Mickey his (often egregious) transgressions out of pity or because she feels like that's what a daughter does. Here, though, we see that for a while, Mickey was actually a really good dad to Lily ... until the fateful day he dropped her off at school and decided to kill a few hours at the track.

There were enough Mickey touches -- the enormous burrito and his constant belittling of every other nanny candidate -- to keep it in character, but if the show is going to have Chris Elliott around more this season, this was a pretty graceful way of showing why Lily would let him.

Also? After the season's tease-heavy first couple of episodes, it was refreshing to have a story set pretty much entirely in the present (minus the still-photo look-aheads to Mickey and an older Marvin). We know the other stuff is coming, "How I Met Your Mother." You don't have to remind us every single week.

What did you think of "How I Met Your Mother" this week?
Photo/Video credit: CBS
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