Unlike an alarming amount of the people who watch How I Met Your Mother, I've never particularly cared about the quest for the mother. This isn't Lost, there are no clues to puzzle through. But the show is one built on development and growth. The show's creators are intent on showing us how Ted goes from admittedly douchey post-college bachelor, somewhat redeemed by his sincerity and romanticism, to full-fledged adult. How I Met Your Mother sells itself as a show about the times in your life when your decisions have far-reaching consequences, with one leading to another and so on and so on until you become you.
Tonight's episode seems like an attempt to hit the fast-forward button on Ted's development. The sojourn into academia always felt odd considering the narrator Ted's recounting of professional success in the early seasons, so it was hardly a surprise to see Ted take the offer from Goliath. Still, it was nice that the show at least gave lip service to the idea that Ted could have been happy as a professor. Ultimately, the character is too much of a romantic not to believe in his dreams.
Using Barney as a vehicle to get Ted back on track was a clever idea, and Neil Patrick Harris was great in the cut-scenes where we see how his normal pick-up tactics apply to Ted. These were a little too similar to those used by Mystery the Pick-Up Artist, but funny nonetheless. (Although somehow I don't see Barney really employing the backhanded compliment.)
Outside of Barney and Ted the episode lost a little of its command. First and foremost, it seems like the writers have lost sight of Robin. Let me make this clear: threats on a person's life are not exactly laugh-out-loud funny. Obviously double standards abound in reality and on TV, but try imagining a male character doing something similar to his ex-girlfriend. I doubt that would have made it to air.
Marshall as a failed wingman was a decent subplot, as was Lily's ability to suss out "the poop" as she called it. Neither one really rose above fair-to-middling, but they were alright. Did not like Lily's karate lessons (it's a joke that's been done before) but I loved Marshall's law school Funk band, The Funk, the Whole Funk, and Nothing but the Funk.
I can see the argument that Ted's lecture was a little on-the-nose (especially when Ted runs out in front of the bus), but I feel like if that kind of thing upsets you you're probably not a fan of HIMYM in the first place. This is a show that wears it's heart on its sleeve. Sometimes, it gets a little corny, but, for what it wants to do, it's heart is in the right place.