"How I Met Your Mother" The Rough Patch (TV Episode 2009) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • After Barney and Robin hit a rough patch in their relationship, Lily devises the perfect plan to break them up, calling in help from Robin's famous friend, Alan Thicke.

  • Although Robin and Barney are outwardly happy about their relationship, Ted believes that they in fact are miserable. He believes an old message from Barney via an old porn videotape and the fact of both Robin and Barney letting their appearances go (Barney who is overeating and Robin who is looking like an old woman) are cries for help in wanting and needing to break-up. Marshall and Lily however believe that as with any couple, they are just going through a rough patch, one that they can weather. But when Marshall sees what Ted sees, they go into cahoots with each other to break them up. When their plan goes horrible awry, Lily, the master of orchestrating break-ups without the couple knowing what hit them, feels she has to come and fix the mess Ted and Marshall created. Lily's masterpiece as she considers it involves Robin's old friend Alan Thicke, one of Barney's old girlfriends, a stormtrooper and a bunch of dirty dishes. Will Lily's old magic do the trick?



The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Old Ted started telling the kids about how Barney had always fought against the idea of having a girlfriend, but now he was the one with a girlfriend. Barney gave Ted his porn collection, because he no longer needed it. The guys also noticed that Barney had "relationship gut," a ponch that was hanging over his waistline.

    Lily offered to "get rid of" the porn for Ted, but he insisted he could take care of it. Marshall and Lily slipped out of the apartment with a couple of tapes. Lily told Marshall she got squat. But she meant it -- she took a video named "Squat."

    Old Ted told the kids he was "getting rid of this vile porn," when "something terrible happened." That's when the box of porn fell open and a single tape magically flew across the room, bouncing off several walls before accidentally landing in the VCR while the case accidentally pressed the "play" button on a movie called "ArchiSexture." What are the odds?

    The title credits played until Barney came on the screen with a message to Ted, dated August 2005. Barney said in the taped message that because Ted was watching his porn, he was either dead or in a relationship. If he was dead, he wanted to be taken to the Hamptons so Ted could re-create "Weekend at Bernie's." If he was in a relationship, he wanted Ted to get him out of it. He said that even if he seemed happy, he wasn't and needed to be out of the relationship.

    Ted, Marshall and Lily wondered whether they should take it seriously and Lily said Barney and Robin actually seemed happy. Ted then recalled that the new couple had stopped appearing happy and Barney had stopped being himself. Barney was getting fatter and Robin was getting annoyed with everything he said. Ted said they weren't "Barney and Robin" anymore. Ted said they were staying together because they were too stubborn to break up. Marshall and Lily voted 2-1 that Ted should leave Barney and Robin alone.

    Marshall talked with Barney, who started talking about how sex was overrated, and Marshall went back to Ted's and said they had to break Robin and Barney up.

    They wondered how they'd do it. Marshall said they had to "unleash the Kraken." Ted reminded us and the kids that Lily had broken up seven of his past relationships, but this time she told them she was out of the game. She was a matchmaker now. She wanted to let things run their course without interfering. Ted told Marshall they could do it without Lily's help. Ted remembered that Robin freaked out when she thought Ted was going to propose to him. They were going to set up a proposal. They tried it, but it backfired and Robin and Barney reluctantly decided to go ahead and get married.

    This forced Lily out of retirement. She said it was going to take something big -- reigniting all four of their biggest fights: The Battle of the Dirty Dishes; The Ex-Girlfriend Conflict; The Star Wars Altercation; and the Canadian-American War (when Barney called Neil Young "a defenseless old lady with vocal paralysis). Lily said Alan Thicke could show up during Robin and Barney's dinner out to reignite the Canadian-American War, Barney's ex-girlfriend would show up, a Storm Trooper would walk by, followed by a busboy with a tray of dirty dishes.

    Their stakeout outside Barney and Robin's dinner fell apart when their Storm Trooper showed up in a different type of robot costume, their pizza delivery guy couldn't fit the pizza into the rented station wagon they were using (a van was too expensive) and Alan Thicke was growing tired of waiting for something to happen. Also, Barney and Robin saw them through the restaurant window.

    Lily didn't want to give up on her masterpiece. She initiated the plan: Alan Thicke, the ex-girlfriend, the robot and the busser with the dirty dishes. None of it worked. Ted said it was because "they're in love." Lily said the whole plan was a mistake. Ted said that was when they learned to let things run their course.

    Minutes later, they unlearned that lesson. Robin showed up at the bar and told the gang -- which included Alan Thicke, who was tossing back a beer with the group -- that she and Barney had broken up.

    She told the story of what really happened in the restaurant. What Robin and Barney really saw when they looked at the restaurant window toward the station wagon were their own reflections: a fat Barney and a haggard Robin. They admitted they weren't happy and decided they were each too awesome and were canceling each other out. They decided to break up, but when they were worried that they couldn't be friends anymore, Robin said maybe they were just two people "getting back together as friends." They kissed one last time for the road.

    They asked Robin how Barney was doing and she said he was doing OK, but it might be a while before he fully recovers. That's when she asked if anyone else felt a "chill" and the theme from "Peter Gunn" began to play. The ladies in the bar all turned to see the man in the suit standing in the doorway. It was a fit, sharp and pulled together Barney who straightened his tie and said, "Daddy's home," and gave a wink.

    Later, Alan Thicke was saying goodbye to Robin when Lily said it was neat to see they were still friends so long after doing the "Sandcastles in the Sand" video. Alan Thicke remembered the video, but mentioned another thing they did together. Barney's interested was piqued. Alan Thicke said they had a failed TV variety show in Canada. He said it was "so embarrassing -- imagine what would happen if anybody got their hands on that."

    A few moments of awkward silence passed before Barney went racing out of the bar.

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