How I Met Your Mother opened with two new faces – two random Fairhampton guys griping about striking out on their night out. Who better to save them from their game-less selves than the soon-to-be married Barney Stinson?

Barney Takes On Two Protégés

“Boys, today is your lucky day,” says Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) as he stumbles over to the guys. “Because today, I’m going to teach you how to [pukes] live!” He then promises to bring them on “the journey to awesome,” which apparently starts in a strip club.

At the strip club, the two young guys are ogling the strippers and wondering how come they’ve never frequented a strip club before. They believe that being around strippers will make it easier to strike up a conversation at the party they’d left earlier without any numbers. Barney pumps the breaks and says they can’t go back to the party yet. “You’re training is complete when I say your training is complete!”

The next phase of the boys' training includes a trip to a tailor to have a fitting for custom suits. In a cameo, Tim Gunn gets the honor of sizing up Barney’s newest protégés. When Barney brings them to the party, now suited up, he shows them how to introduce one another to the women, which leads one to ask, “Are you Jesus?” Before he leaves them, he hands over “The Playbook” scratched on hundreds of cocktail napkins.

Marshall Gets A Lesson From Lily's 'Ghost'

Marshall (Jason Segel) remains in his and Lily’s (Alyson Hannigan) room, learning from the front desk that no one can fix the air conditioning because “the Captain,” a ghost haunting his room, wants the room muggy. Anxious because he hasn’t learned from Lily since she stormed out in the middle of their argument about his judgeship and moving to Italy, he strikes up a conversation with “ghost” Lily.

Marshall then begins an in depth discussion with both the current ghost of Lily and the 2006 ghost of Lily – the Lily who broke off their engagement to go study art in San Francisco. His late father also makes an appearance and explains to his son that he can’t use her mistake several years ago as an excuse to hurt her whenever he so chooses.

Marshall finally admits that he knows he could have handled the entire situation better. When the present-day ghost of Lily admits to him that it probably does make more sense to stay in New York, Marshall does a victory dance, saying that he’s won. The ghost goes on to tell him that though they’re staying in New York, his marriage is in danger if he continues to lie and keep things from her. “If you keep acting this way, little by little you’re going to lose me,” she says. Then, the real Lily comes in and confirms they’re staying in New York.

Ted Lets Go Of Robin

In a flashback, a little Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) is outside for a BBQ accompanied by his best friend the red balloon. As he loses grasp of the balloon, the voiceover of older Ted says, he learned then that, “If you love something, you can never let it go, even if it’s gone forever.”

The thing is, however, now Ted needs to unlearn that. Walking along the beach with Robin (Cobie Smulders), there’s another flashback to a week ago when Ted talked to his ex-fiancée Stella, wanting the locket Robin had long-buried in Central Park. Though Ted is playing it off as though he simply wants to give it to her as a wedding gift, the truth is he wants to use it to win her back.

Recapping Ted’s love life in New York City, Robin says that Stella was definitely in his top 5. The Slutty Pumpkin and Victoria make the list as well. It remains a mystery to Robin what happened with Victoria, who she thinks was his best chance at love. Ted admits that it was because of Robin – more specifically, that he was unwilling to break off their friendship for Victoria’s sake.

Robin is incredulous that Ted let Victoria go for the sake of their friendship. When Ted denies having spoken with Victoria recently, there’s a flashback to earlier in the week when he called up the pastry chef, who’s now residing in Germany. As it turns out, she’s the one who has the locket, and like Stella, knows he’s going to use it to try to put an end to Robin’s wedding. She agrees to overnight it to him.

A teary-eyed Robin doesn’t understand why Ted hadn’t just spoken with her about what Victoria was asking him. He explains that he couldn’t tell her because he’s only ever had a top 1 – her. After telling her he’s Chicago-bound after the wedding, the two joke about his worst 5 girlfriends, which includes the obsessive Jeannette.

Speaking of Jeannette, when Victoria had the necklace shipped to Ted’s, it was Jeannette who signed for it. Jeannette agrees to meet Ted in the park to give him back the locket. But instead of handing it over, she tells him he’s being crazy. When he raves about how he loves Robin and must do everything to make it happen, Jeannette drops the locket in the water.

Standing up on the beach as the sun rises, Robin and Ted’s hands are clasped together. In a symbolic shot, Ted lets her go, and Robin comically floats up into the sky above the water, floating away like his red balloon.

How I Met Your Mother airs Mondays on CBS at 8/7.

– Chelsea Regan

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