Old Ted started the night by explaining to the kids that Barney often pretended to be someone else when trying to get a date. To illustrate this point, we saw Barney sitting in a booth at McClaren's, wearing a scuba suit as a blonde woman checked him out. Lily told the woman to avoid him because he's "the biggest jerk on the face of the Earth."
After their breakup, Robin decided to throw herself back into her career while Barney tried to throw himself into "every woman in New York City." He explained to Lily that since he'd started dating Robin there was "a certain thing" he hadn't used as much as he would like to. "It's kinda big, surprisingly heavy, kind of leathery... and it's black." Then, he unveiled, "The Playbook," a leather-bound book that contained every trick Barney had ever used to "pick up chicks and give 'em the business."
Barney quickly explained a couple of the tactics before launching into what would be his "grand return to the stage": The Lorenzo Von Matterhorn.
Robin told Marshall and Ted she was focusing on her career and was out of the whole dating thing for a while. They told her that was exactly the type of thing people say right before they fall in love. Marshall shared a story of a friend from law school who was down after a breakup, "six months later, married." Ted talked about Travis Frenchright, backup bartender, who wanted to focus on his "Star Trek" fan fiction. "Six months later, married." Marshall chimed back in with Matthew Blitz, an accountant at his office, who vowed his love life was over. "Six months later -- civil union and planning to get married pending the passage of legislation currently on the floor of the New York State Senate!"
Ted hinted that he'd love to be in a relationship and Lily decided he was finally ready -- after three years -- to meet a teacher she knows at school named Shelly. She meant to introduce them at the bar three years earlier, but when Lily walked in with her friend, she found Ted stuffing his mouth full of chicken fingers and avoided the introduction. Ted promised not to do anything stupid this time. Ted kept the promise, but Lily's friend never showed up. Later, she told Lily that she met "this amazing guy" at the bar when she got there an hour early.
It was Lorenzo Von Matterhorn.
Lily went to Barney's apartment to get the story. The Lorenzo Von Matterhorn, it turns out, was an involved Internet-based scheme in which he pretended to be a famous person named Lorenzo Von Matterhorn. He introduced himself briefly to Shelly at the bar, then left while she did a Web search for his name on her phone. The search turned up several fake articles about the glorious, adventurous life of the billionaire Lorenzo Von Matterhorn. He returned a few minutes later and invited her for a cup of coffee. She accepted and "it was on."
Lily told Barney that Shelly was "inconsolable." Barney brushed it off, saying the only way Shelly would be inconsolable was if someone told her Lorenzo was not real. Lily told her. Barney was upset with Lily for breaking Shelly's heart.
Back at the bar, while Barney still sat in the corner booth wearing a scuba suit, Lily told Ted that Shelly would probably still go out with him. But Ted had the gang -- which now included the blonde woman Lily had earlier advised to stay away from Barney -- help him harmonize his response to the question of whether he'd want to go out with someone who'd hooked up with Barney: "Hell no."
Barney was off to try "The He's Not Coming," another trick in his playbook that involved him going to the top of The Empire State Building -- the most famous romantic meeting spot in the world -- and telling every single woman there who appeared to be waiting for a man, "he's not coming." Most of the women had no idea what he was talking about, but eventually it worked.
Back at the apartment, Robin was leaving to buy a newspaper and Ted and Marshall told her she'd come back with a husband because it was the last thing she was looking for. Marshall launched into an explanation of how there are never frozen waffles in the freezer when he goes looking for them, but anytime he goes looking for something else, he finds frozen waffles.
"You go out there looking for a paper, you're coming back with frozen waffles," Marshall explained. "And, in this case, frozen waffles is a guy. Also, could you pick up some frozen waffles? In that case, frozen waffles ... are frozen waffles."
Barney came in, breathless, explaining how he'd taken home the woman from The Empire State Building, but when he left the room "to set up the camera -- to light the candles," she was gone when he came back. So was The Playbook. Barney thought Al-Qaida was responsible, but Lily said she did it. The woman was a friend of hers, and an actress.
Back at the bar, with Barney still sitting in the corner booth wearing a scuba suit, Lily revealed The Playbook.
Back at the apartment, Lily told Barney she was going to put The Playbook on the Internet unless he promised not to trick any more women.
Back at the bar, Robin flipped through the pages and interrupted Lily's story when she found "The Ted Mosby" in The Playbook. Quick flash to Barney, wearing a flannel, telling a girl at the bar that he's been left at the altar. Ted wondered if it would work.
Lily went back to the story, explaining that a few hours later Barney came to the apartment in a scuba suit. Lily had seen enough and was going to put The Playbook on the Internet. Then she asked Marshall to put The Playbook on the Internet. Marshall said he would, but wondered why he couldn't find "The Scuba Diver" in the book.
Finally, back in the near-present, the gang went over to Barney and asked him about "The Scuba Diver," and Barney was eyeing the blonde woman at the bar. Lily went over to warn the blonde, whose name was Claire.
Finally, they all went over to Barney's booth and he confessed that the breakup had been tough on him, so he couldn't go through with the scheme any longer. They all talked Claire into going out Barney because he's not such a bad guy after all, and she agreed to have coffee with him.
Barney and Claire left and Barney quickly sent Lily a text, telling her to look under the table at the bar. She found an envelope that contained the missing pages of The Playbook, with the directions for "The Scuba Diver." The directions: Tell a meddlesome female friend about the playbook; run a play on one of her co-workers, making her so angry she steals The Playbook; put on a scuba suit and tell her you're going to play one last trick called The Scuba Diver on a girl at the bar, so the friend goes to tell the girl all about The Playbook. When they come ask about The Scuba Diver, take off the mask, "give them some spiel about your deep-seeded insecurities, which don't really exist because, let's face it, you're awesome." Feeling bad, Lily talks you up to the girl, who then agrees to go get coffee with you.
"And it is on."
Back at the bar, Ted came in, saying, "for those keeping score, The Ted Mosby works."
Ted and Marshall again started telling Robin that the love of her life was going to be the next guy who walked through the door. First it was a hippie-looking dude, then an old guy in a powder blue blazer, then a hot girl. Robin got up to go to work.
"And the ironic part was," Old Ted explained as we saw Robin's new co-host introduce himself, "that was the day she met Don."