How I Met Your Mother knows how to hit every right note and please fans with episodes that most shows can’t get away with. The rom-com’s ability to create an episode mostly based off of previous seasons’ jokes is one of the reasons fans have stuck around so long.
“Ring Up!” begins with Ted revealing he is dating an almost 20-and-a-half-year-old. While the group makes fun of him and Barney is seemingly disgusted by Ted’s desire for a one-night-stand, the revelation kicks off a series of events. Ted initially got a date with the girl because he bought a leather bracelet from her, which Marshall puts on as a joke—only it turns Lily on and he begins a long role play which includes him becoming a drug-selling rock star.
They could have pushed the envelope a little more on this side story, making it more over-the-top, but they kept it pretty simple, because in the end the plot was meant to showcase how when a couple is married, they don’t need to be anybody else because they’re already loved to death for exactly who they are. Marshall and Lily relay this message to Robin, who is having difficulty now that her engagement ring is causing her to have to pay for newspapers, hot dogs and beer.
The writers do a good job of referencing why the ring makes her invisible: it’s Bilbo Baggins’ One Ring or Harry Potter’s cloak. Robin’s sudden—and literal—invisibility is a fun break that reminds you the show is about having a good time and that it can do silly things like make a character invisible or have her perform a musical number.
While those two plots were entertaining, it was Ted’s plot that finally carried the weight of the episode. There’s a level of intrigue about who the sub-21-year-old is, but any dedicated fan of the show likely had an inkling early on—especially when it turns out Barney isn’t disgusted Ted is going to hook up with a girl over a decade younger than him. In fact, Barney wants Ted to hook up with the girl because Barney is detoxing from years of one-night-stands now that he is engaged to Robin. The level of Barney’s interest and the lack of a name given to the girl only meant one thing: she was Carly, Barney’s younger half-sister.
The big reveal didn’t really hit home for me because I personally guessed it within the first few minutes, but I was excited to finally see Carly. For two years she’s been quietly the best candidate to be the mother, but after last week’s clue, we knew she wouldn’t be. If this episode came earlier, it would have been a little funnier, but even so, this episode proved why fans stick around and why they will for another season.
How I Met Your Mother can still be funny without having to get too emotional. While the pathos in the show is one of its strongest components, sometimes being silly is all the show needs.