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It’s not often that an entire episode of How I Met Your Mother focuses mostly on the one stable relationship, Lily and Marshall. When there is one, you feel like any relationship you’ve been in just doesn’t compare. Good thing Barney and Ted are there to remind you that not everyone wants that. Some people just want to get Party School Bingo.
Everything starts with a three day blizzard that keeps most people off the usually busy New York streets. Barney and Ted are the only ones at the bar (and those two are only there because they’re supposed to meet two girls later). Marshall is helping Robin fix the radiator and Lily is flying in from Seattle. A wife arriving from the airport may not seem like a big deal to everyone but to Marshall and Lily, picking up the other one at the airport is one of the many rituals they have as a couple. It started the first time Lily went on Spring Break. Marshall surprised her at the airport and Lily surprised him with a locally brewed six pack. It’s happened like that ever since.
Now that Marshall and Lily are married, they’ve let go of most of their rituals, and the airport one isn’t any different. They no longer tell what they ate with the other one when Marshall gets home. They don’t have long lunch phone calls anymore. They fell asleep early and didn’t get a New Year’s kiss and now, Lily has decided she isn’t bringing Marshall any beer and he isn’t surprising her at the airport. In real life, maybe one of the two would actually go through with letting the ritual go but in HIMYM world, they each realize the other is going to show up so they have to, too. Marshall makes his way to the airport with Robin through the falling snow (their car literally is covered by a snow plow) but when they get to the airport, they see that her flight was cancelled and now she won’t be getting in until Thursday. Marshall sees it as a sign that he’s not supposed to pick her up and he vows not to come back on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Barney and Ted are sitting alone in the bar when the owner, Carl, tells them he’s closing early to go set up cots in a shelter. So selfish, especially when Barney’s Party School Bingo is on the line. What’s that, you say? When Playboy puts out their top party schools, Barney makes a Bingo card out of them and when he sleeps with a girl from that school, he can mark it off. Now he only has one school to go and the girls he and Ted are meeting happen to be students at that school. How could Carl possibly close the bar when he’s so incredibly close? He can’t, of course. Instead, he gives Ted and Barney the keys and tells them as soon as the girls get there to lock up and turn off the lights. Sure, that’s exactly what’ll happen. What kind of crazy ass bar owner is this guy?
The girls show up but they’ve invited their entire band, which is the school’s marching band, to the bar. The guys do the best they can but when Carl calls to say he’ll be there in ten minutes, they ring the bell for last call and invite everyone back to their house (they said if they ever owned a bar, they wouldn’t have a last call and you know how Ted is about keeping his word). With the gang back together, minus Lily, Ted is able to talk to Marshall about he and Lily’s rituals. Talking about it, Marshall can’t stand the idea of Lily standing around waiting for him but they’ve decided against the ritual so it just has to go.
Lily arrives at the airport with a keg of Seattle brewed beer (actually, she wasn’t going to do the ritual either but then she thought Marshall would so when the plane landed an hour early, she found a store in New York that sold the beer but they only had kegs). She sits and waits but Marshall isn’t there. Suddenly, a kid next to her starts playing the New Year’s song on his clarinet. Then there are horns, then there are more horns and finally, Marshall walks out (good thing the girl was happy about Barney’s Bingo). He tells Lily what he ate that day, says Happy New Year and kisses her. And the ritual lives on.
Where would the rest of the crew be without Marshall and Lily to lead the way? Maybe Barney never would have uttered a word to anyone about Robin. Maybe Ted would have been with some one, anyone, even if they’re not right. Who knows. I know that without their corny, weird monkey sex relationship, the show wouldn’t have the heart it does. Aww. Look how corny I am now.