How I Met Your Mother "The Stamp Tramp" Review: This Episode Did Not Earn a Stamp of Approval

How I Met Your Mother S08E07: "The Stamp Tramp"

How I Met Your Mother seems to be developing a pattern in its eighth and possibly final season. The show redeems itself with a great episode, gets fans believing things are back on the right track, and then stumbles back down with another clunker the following week. I loved last week's "Splitsville," and I really, really thought the show had solved the woes that've plagued it so far season.

Well, I was wrong.

"The Stamp Tramp" wasted one of the precious few episodes of HIMYM that we have left, failing to advance any plots, develop any characters, or answer any questions. Yes, Barney kissed Robin at the very end of the episode, but they were both drunk and this is a couple that's gone much further on just a spur-of-the-moment whim. The emotional and touching speech that Barney made last week about his love for Robin deserved a better follow-up than just a post-strip-club smooch.

Even the return of Joe Manganiello as Brad, Marshall’s law school buddy and former brunch partner, and a cameo by Joe Lo Truglio as Honeywell, Marshall’s boss, couldn’t save the episode. After seeing Brad looking kind of homeless outside his law firm, Marshall invited him to interview for an associate position. This prompted the gang to inform Marshall that he was a stamp tramp, handing out stamps of approval way too easily. Brad appeared to be a horrible job candidate, embarrassing Marshall in front of Honeywell. The episode revealed that Brad was really working for Gruber Pharmaceutical and his appearance and behavior were part of a ploy to steal secrets about Marshall’s firm’s case against Gruber.

Marshall’s stamp-tramping led to Lily calling Ted a piggyback stamper, accusing Teddy Westside of only giving out his stamp of approval after someone else had offered theirs. Ted’s defense against Lily’s charges forced him to not only reveal his half-hearted love of Dishwalla but also confirmed that he was pirate DJ Dr. X. Cue spit take by Lily, Robin, and Barney. Ted broke out his college video diaries in search of a clue that he wasn’t a piggyback stamper, but became even more dejected when he realized how lame he was in college. While his friends were busy lighting up sandwiches in the background, College Ted was plotting his pirate radio career and attempting to pierce his own ear. Even though we’ve been told that Marshall always knew he was going to marry Lily, one of Ted’s video diaries took place after Marshall’s third date with Lily and showed Ted convincing Marshall that it was okay to want to spend his life with Lily so soon. Lily saw this and realized that she owes her marriage and family to Ted giving her the stamp of approval years ago.

Meanwhile, Barney began the search for a new strip club after Quinn returned to work at the Lusty Leopard. He enlisted Robin as his strip club agent, and she began weighing deals from various clubs who wanted Barney to bring his business to their establishments. After Barney chose Mouth Beach, he and Robin spent the evening there and ended up drunk, leading to the aforementioned kiss. Nothing says romance like a strip club, right?

The real revelation of this episode was just how inconsequential (and boring) Marshall and Lily’s story has become. Some of you have been trying to tell me this in the comments for weeks now, and after this episode, I’m on your side. HIMYM episodes that focus on Marshall and Lily used to be some of the highlights of the series. It was their engagement that sent Ted on his journey to find the one. The death of Marshall’s dad two seasons ago gave HIMYM an emotionally dramatic heft that it hadn't previously possessed.

But now? Geez, these two are awful. Yes, I know they had a baby, and that would change the dynamic of any couple, but Marshall and Lily are completely different characters now. Where’s the Marshall who dreamed of Loch Ness Monsters? Where’s the Lily who loved to paint, even if her paintings were only good at soothing pets? Baby Marvin came along and just sucked the personality right out of Marshall and Lily. What a disappointment.

Speaking of disappointments, can we settle on exactly who Barney Stinson is? Is he a womanizing connoisseur of strip clubs? Or he is a man who’s ready to settle down? It’s one thing for a character to evolve as a show goes on, but Barney has been all over the place this season and last. One minute he loved Nora. Then he dumped Nora for Robin. Then he was back to the strip clubs. But then he loved Quinn. Suddenly he wanted to keep living the bro life and created a ridiculous pre-nuptial agreement. Back to Robin. But it was just a ruse! Strip clubs! ROBIN! What. Are. We. Doing?

It seems like after eight seasons, the writers have lost the ability to write for their own characters. We saw this with Victoria earlier this season, and she wasn’t even a hard character to get a grasp on. If this season of HIMYM were a car, we wouldn’t be driving smoothly down the road to a finale. This season is Barney behind the wheel of Marshall’s Fiero, stuttering through a parking lot while "I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)" plays endlessly on the stereo. We’re not going anywhere. And it seems like no one has any idea how to even get the car to move forward.



NOTES & QUOTES


– Gotta give the writers credit for the many different strip club names. Moneyballs (where sabermetrics lead to a high on-pants percentage), Golden Oldies (where GILFs are extra flexible thanks to advanced hip dysplasia), and Mouth Beach now join the Lusty Leopard.

– Ted: “Wow, you’re like the LeBron James of strip clubs. Actually you’re probably tied with LeBron for that title.”

– For a man who believes in Sasquatch, I wouldn’t expect Marshall to be afraid of giant hot dogs. Speaking of Marshall, can we get a HIMYM-Finding Bigfoot crossover? Marshall and Bobo would get along like crazy.

– Brad: “I hope this works out, bro. I couldn’t even fit in my leg in that bratwurst outfit.”

– Ted to Lily: “You know the best part of you challenging me on Dishwalla?” Lily: “Didn’t challenge you. Don’t care.”

– “Stincinatti Brohio” just might be the best Barney nickname since “Swarley.”

– I was surprised that Marshall pointing out the fish tank to Brad and Honeywell didn’t segue into Marshall’s fish names standup comedy act. I mean, have you ever really thought about the names of fish?

Comments (33)
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I agree with you on Stincinatti Brohio being the best Barney nickname since Swarley. I just rewatched that episode and the Cheers theme song playing at the end of that AWLAYS makes me laugh.
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Well at least Marshall again was portayed as the idiot he is. Killing off his father was a good start but really his whole family has to go including himself. It's impossible to understand what qualities Lily (or someone else for that matter) see in him. He is stupid an naive like a five year old girl. Marshall (and his awful relatives) has always been the weakest link of the show. The less we see of him, the better.

It was fun to see Robin as Barney's strip club agent though.
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Marshall hasn't been great this season ( or Lily.. Or anyone really ) but Marshall in general is awesome! He has been my favourite character since day 1 !
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I always hated that idiot. Stupid ugly, naive and superstitious? What is he doing in NY to begin with?
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I usually agree with you on points of the show getting a little stale, and not moving forward that much with being in it's final season. But with this episode I must disagree. I honestly really really enjoyed this one. I thought the group dynamic was absolutely the star of the episode. Everyone just clicked (not that this cast doesn't share chemistry on a normal basis) and with you saying that Barney has been all over the place, ever since he met his father he's pretty much just wanted to meet the right girl, and he never truly fell out of love with Robin. Just because a guy wants to settle down doesn't mean he's going to stop going to strip clubs/sleeping with women if he doesn't have a girlfriend, right? I thought everything with him and Robin made sense in this episode. They should be hesitant. They always do this and it turns out bad. Maybe 3rd times the charm.

Brad's a dick!
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It is time to start Ted's story.. I am tired of Robin+Barney and Lilly+Marshal.. Dont really care about robin and barney .. change is inevitable for this show to continue.. 5/10(5 for lil bit comedy)
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Great review in which you hit the nail on the head. There's really not much else you can say about this show and its runners.
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I'm watching 30 rock and The Office. They are on life support right now and I'm waiting till the life slowly fades away, but with HIMYM I just to want pull the plug myself..
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Here's a suggestion: Instead of evaluating this show based on dramatic criteria (did the characters develop? Does the plot advance?), evaluate it based on comedic criteria (did the show make you laugh?)

Yes, well-developed characters allow character-driven humor, but don't put the cart before the horse... the characters exist to make funny stuff happen. If they do that by developing as characters, good. If the characters develop but it's not funny, bad.
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Horrible episode......worst in years. Nothing. Was. Funny. At. All.
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Totally with you.
On a dramatic side the show didn't do a thing to improve or advance on plots.
On a comedic side, the show was painfully unfunny and filled with silly and reciclable jokes.
Worst episode in a while for HIMYM (and that's, miserably, saying something).
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It wasn't a bad episode and the humour has definitely improved since the last two seasons. I liked the episode
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You kind of answered your own point. When you described the back and forth Barney has gone through, picture that sentence coming out of Barney's mouth. It's exactly like him. He IS all over the place, there are literally scenes throughout the series that show him visibly jumping back and forth from choice to choice in certain situations. The point is HE doesn't know who he is, so why should we?
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I think it makes sense that after a bad break up, Barney would go back to his old, bad habits to try and numb the pain.
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It was another filler episode, but this one managed to be funny without being completely stupid. The strip club names were gold and Ted attempting and failing to prove that he's stamped something everyone likes was hilarious. Maybe it's because I can relate since I've had the stamp conversation with friends before that I thought it was funny. Agreed on the fish tank bit. I can't believe the writers didn't take that opportunity, but were happy to submit to animal humor a couple of episodes back.
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I agree. This episode was a clunker. Hopefully, next week will be better.
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Y'all are crazy :P This was a hilarious episode! The show has moved slowly since the beginning, let it take its time because when it's over, the show will be missed.
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I think I'm gonna stop watching this season and just wait for all the episodes to come out. Then I just all of them in one day and then maybe it feel like the story is progressing.
This 1ep/week is kind of torture, with good episodes and then bad and the good...and so on. Makes it less enjoyable to watch the show.
I'll wait for the season the end, watch the full season from episode 1, in one day I'm done. If this turns out to be the final season, it will be better to watch it all at once.
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I actually disagree with your review. I think this was a good episode. Finally, Lily wasn't as annoying as usual and Marshal actually had a good story line. The moment between Lily and Ted was sweet and comical. AND we were able to see some Robin and Barney action. This episode moved forward in my book.
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Agreed! I thought it moved forward too! Except for the kiss at the end - Robin just buck up!
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It was only a disappointing episode if you are watching every week with the expectation that the "meeting the mother" and the "Robyn + Barney" storylines progress. Who cares if those storylines progress or not. I only care if it is funny/entertaining. And this episode was funny.
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I agree with just about everything you said. I don't know why I continue to watch this show. I am not that invested in finding out who is the mother, I guess I just am holding out hope that it can get better and be what it once was.
The writers just need to do the Barney and Robin wedding. I think that would help out a lot, I mean this thing has felt even more dragged out then Ted's search. Part of me hopes this is the last season, and if not, season 9 better be amazing.
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I'm not a critic. I can't be a critic. I admire your review because, somehow, I don't think I can see things like that. That's an issue I have, I admit it. Whilst reading your review, I understood all your arguments and every single one of it makes sense. But I don't agree with... You see, yes, this season might be the last one of this show and the writers are taking things way too slowly... But... I don't know, this fact doesn't run through my mind when watching the episode. What I saw Monday night was a sitcom episode, a comedy that successfully achieve its mission: make me entertained and make me laugh using characters I care about for eight years. For the first time this season, all the plotlines were funny (specially Ted's) and all the scenes were enjoyable. I do agree with you that Marshall and Lily changed, but that doesn't bother me much, I mean... Marshall needed to grow up, and so did Lily. We all must at some point. I do believe Lily still like painting and Marshall still believes in ghosts and stuff, but is it really the time for them to act like they used to be? They have a child to raise after all. And speaking of Marshall, his personality was highlight this episode. He has changed, yet his major qualities prevailed. Maybe I just like this show too much and this makes me blind... Also, Barney's extravaganza was funny. It always is.
More+
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I think the problem comes from the writers not knowing if this is the last season or not. I think they're very slowly moving things along while they wait. And once they know, they'll either throw everything they've got at us or go to their plan B (whatever that is)
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I don't like the lack of continuity. Last season Barney's mystery wedding was made into a big deal, but as soon as this season rolled around, it stopped getting mentioned. It's like the writers have seasonal short-term memories, because otherwise, I'm sure they'd have realised that it's time to move the Robin-Barney storyline along. There's surely loads of good material for them to write for that marriage, but they're not going to get much of a chance if they keep pushing it back for the sake of developing a romance that's been flogged to death
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I thought it was a decent episode. Obviously, the writers are saving most of the Ted story for the end, and I think the timing is just right. It didn't advance the plot much, but it's good to just sit back and enjoy the show without impatiently waiting for "the answers." If you guys want to do that, tune into the last 3 episodes of the season, not criticize the show through the entire season for each stand-alone episode.
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I'm actually one of the few apologists for season 8, but I must admit it is time to get Robin and Barney together, the speech last week, and the kiss this week, they are just beating a dead horse here, put them together and start the beginning of the end of Ted's story.
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i agree this season i boring..the one with Barney having a dog was just awful talk about jumping the shark! I think its time to end it.
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I liked the episode. Yes advancing the plot is important and I want to have all of the ends tied by the end of the series too. But super speeding through the plot won't seem real. Barney makes sense if you think of him as a person who had a single mindset for most of his life until it suddenly changed dramaticly. He fell in love with Robin realized it wasn't going well but loved her anyway, therefore needed to end it with Nora, got in with queen and well, since habits are hard to cut ended it with her. If Barney realized deep down that that he was settling for queen he might have thought it wasn't worth giving up his way of life.
As for Lily and Marshall I agree about everything except for the fact that this episode while not on the same level as early seasons, was actually pretty good for them.
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For the record, I don't think that Barney was all THAT drunk when he kissed Robin.
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i think last week was Splitsville
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Staff
We've corrected the episode title mix-up!
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Yep it was
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