Spoilers for tonight's "How I Met Your Mother" coming up just as soon as I translate my life into hockey terminology...
Huh. "Happily Ever After" started off as a flat episode (the gang being annoyed at Ted's non-reaction to being dumped by Stella), then took a turn so stupid and bad sitcommy (hiding under a table?!?!?) that even all the dialogue about how stupid it was couldn't save it -- and then the flashbacks started and it took a marked turn for the better.
Lily and Barney's flashbacks were one-joke, but each joke was a good one, and the scenes ended before they got old. (Also, Alyson Hannigan still looks convincing as a ninth grader.) And Robin's flashback to her gender-bending Canadian upbringing was both funny and sad. (Though the soap opera music joke -- Robin's dad was played by daytime drama vet Eric Braeden -- fell a little flat.)
But where "Happily Ever After" really started to click was in the cab ride. Marshall's burning need to see Ted lose his temper finally let Jason Segel unleash his inner whackjob in a way that the show almost never does, even in episodes where Marshall is supposed to be wigging out, and I can't remember the last time I liked Josh Radnor as much as I did as Ted exploded about Stella moving to New York for Tony. (See? It wasn't necessarily Ted's stupid anti-Jersey bigotry I objected to; it's that they didn't do anything funny with it last time.)
This cleans the slate on Stella once and for all, and I'm hopeful the show moves away from Relationship Ted for a while.
What did everybody else think?