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How I Met Your Mother "Ring Up" Review: So Much for the Half-sister Theory

How I Met Your Mother S08E14: "Ring Up"

Another episode of How I Met Your Mother down. Another theory about the Mother checked off the list. After wasting time early in its eighth season, HIMYM has finally gotten serious about wrapping things up. The last three episodes have given us the long-awaited Barney and Robin engagement, the revelation that the Mother would be playing bass at Barney and Robin’s wedding, and, with "Ring Up," the introduction of Barney’s half-sister.

Yes, the very half-sister that so many HIMYM fans believed would turn out to be Ted’s wife and the mother of the poor kids who've been listening to the same story for the last eight years. In case you need a refresher, here’s how that theory went: Barney’s father, Jerry Whittaker, has two children with the woman he married after leaving Barney’s mother. We met Jerry's son JJ a few seasons ago, and at that time Jerry mentioned that his daughter was away at college. Barney had never met his half-sister, so it was entirely possible that Ted could meet her and fall in love without Barney realizing who Ted was with. On top of all of this, Ted marrying a family member of Barney’s would make Robin and Barney a true aunt and uncle to Ted’s kids.

So how did HIMYM finally introduce Barney’s half-sister? She was mentioned early in "Ring Up," with the note that Barney and Robin saw her over Christmas. I guess we can assume that Barney has resumed visits with Jerry and his family, making it all the more likely that the Whittakers will be at the Stinson-Scherbatsky wedding. Ted showed up at MacLaren’s wearing a leather wrist cuff, instantly earning ridicule from his friends. Despite the lameness of a leather wrist cuff, it did get Ted a date... a date with a girl who was only 20-and-a-half years old. And a huge hipster. And had a fetish for older guys.

At Barney’s urging, Ted agreed to sleep with Carly, the 20-and-a-half-year-old. While Barney had settled on settling down, he was going through a one-night-stand detox and needed Ted to serve as his proxy, to carry on his legacy. It was only after Ted complied and Barney asked to see a picture of Ted’s new hook-up that the truth came out: Ted had slept with Barney’s half-sister. And Barney had not only encouraged him to do so but had declared that, with Ted serving as his proxy, the two shared a bang bond.

After "Ring Up," we know that the Barney’s Half-Sister Theory isn’t going to happen. Yes, Ted did meet Barney’s half-sister, and they did hook up without Barney knowing who Ted was with, but HIMYM made it clear that Ted would not have a future with Carly. True, the writers didn’t have Ted come out and say that Carly wasn’t the mom, but all you have to do is look at what we know about the Mother to prove that the only time Carly and Ted will be at the same wedding is when Barney and Robin get married. Much of what we know about the Mother comes from when Ted dated her roommate, Cindy. Nothing that Ted picked up in the apartment that the Mother and Cindy shared would be of any interest to Carly. The very fact that Carly doesn’t like books means that she and Ted could never bond over T. Coraghessan Boyle, the author of the book that Ted gushed over in Cindy’s apartment.

And finally, Ted’s already told us that the Mother was at the same bar where he got punched out that one St. Patrick’s Day. That happened in the Season 3 episode "No Tomorrow." Was Carly hanging out in bars at fifteen-and-a-half years old? Sorry, Barney’s Half-Sister Truthers — this theory has been debunked.

While watching this episode, I started wondering why HIMYM suddenly flipped the switch and started delivering us the goods. Then I remembered that a ninth season only became a reality just before Christmas. Prior to that, the show’s writers were working under the premise that Season 8 could be the last. Under that belief, they had to start answering some questions and crossing off some theories before they knew whether or not they had an entire ninth season to work with. Thanks to the demands of the show’s production schedule, we’re probably going to get additional answers over the next few episodes, too.

HIMYM is off next week but returns on Feb. 4 with what is most likely the final Robin Sparkles episode. Pretty much every Canadian who's ever been on the show and everyone who's ever played a Canadian on the show will be back. The episode is called "P.S. I Love You," so it’ll be interesting to see how that plays into an episode that fills in more of Robin’s teenage pop-star past.

Notes and quotes

– While Barney was going through one-night-stand withdrawal and pestering ted to sleep with Carly, Robin discovered that her engagement ring was like The Lord of the Rings One Ring, but instead of making Frodo invisible to Ringwraiths, Robin’s engagement ring prevented the male population of New York City from giving her free coffee, helping her out at the bar, or paying her rent. Thanks to Marshall and Lily, Robin realized that it no longer matters that other guys don’t pay attention to her any more. It only matters that Barney does.

– Marshall and Lily had the episode’s weakest story, which focused on how their sex life has changed since Lily had Marvin. Turns out Lily has a thing for loser dropout musicians and Marshall has a thing for suburban moms.

– Ted: “I have a date.” Robin: “With some hand lotion and the internet?” Barney to Robin: “It is possible to love you more.”

– Ted revealing why his date couldn’t come into MacLaren’s: “She twenty ... and a half. (Clears throat.) Almost.”

– Ted complaining about his date with Carly: “To me, it all sounded like hipster Mad Libs.”

– Even though Ted had already mentioned that Carly was a rollerblader, I laughed at the sight of the two of them rollerblading away from the food truck.

– I enjoyed Robin’s musical sequence, but it’s hard to live up to her Robin Sparkles history.

– Robin responding to Marshall’s attempt to use Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter to explain the power of her engagement ring: “Can you say that again but not in nerd?” “Yeah, I don’t speak virgin either.”

– Ted to Barney: “My mother’s not one-night-stand material.” Barney: “Yeah, you’re right. It wasn’t night, and we weren't standing.”

– I loved watching Invisible Robin carry those beers around. I grew up watching Charlie Brown specials, and it made you flash back to It’s Magic, Charlie Brown.

– Ted justifying to Barney why the universe would allow him to sleep with Barney’s half-sister: “It’s not like you’ve ever treated women in a way that would deserve karmic retribution.”

– When I was looking up some information about Jerry for this review, I realized that we’ve known that Barney’s half-sister’s name is Carly for awhile now. If you remembered that going into "Ring Up," you were probably ahead of the game.

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Bill Kuchman
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