HIMYM returned last night with “The Stinson Missle Crisis.”  The fourth episode of the new season pulled out some big name guest stars and cameos, but did not meet the intensity and hilarity of the first three. 

Kal Penn made his first appearance on television since leaving his role of Kutner on House to work for the Obama administration.  He appeared as Robin’s (Cobie Smulders) court appointed therapist.  It turns out that Robin had assaulted a woman.  In typical HIMYM fashion, we find out what happened first and then are told the story of all of the events that led up to that point.

Robin confessed in therapy that she had become jealous of all the attention that Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) was giving to one of her co-workers. Nozanin Boniadi returned as Nora, the object of Barney’s affections.  Robin recalled several moments from earlier that summer where Barney would send gifts to the office for Nora. 

Alexis Denisof, Alyson Hannigan’s real life husband, made an appearance as Sandy Rivers, who is apparently the boss at Robin’s office.  This doesn’t really make sense since the last time we saw Sandy he told Robin he was leaving his job for a big network anchor position, but I guess it’s pretty irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.

Moving forward to what had happened just a few days earlier, Nora had agreed to go on another date with Barney.  She was going out of town, so the date would happen when she got back in three days.  Barney realized that he still had to get rid of a lot of the loose ends from his promiscuous past, and Robin agreed to help.  She admitted to her therapist that the ulterior motive was to try to win Barney back before Nora returned.  They worked tirelessly to cover Barney’s tracks on several pretty funny ways he used to trick women.  The best of them was a commercial for Barney’s fake plastic surgery clinic at which he would give “free breast reduction consultations.”  The bit included a cameo from emmy-winner Jeff Probst showing when Barney sponsored a segment on Survivor, also shown on CBS.

Just when Robin was going to make her move, Nora returns early.  Barney goes off with Nora and leaves Robin alone at MacLaren’s.  While there, a girl arrives and says she is looking for Barney because she got a message that he saw her on a subway and wanted to connect with her.  Clearly they hadn’t tied up all of the loose ends.  Robin, ripe with jealousy, tells the girl the restaurant that Barney went off to for his date with Nora.  However, she eventually feels guilty.  Robin tracks down the girl and beats her up so she can’t get to Barney, hence the assault charge. 

I’ve never been a big fan of Robin-centric episodes.  This was definitely the worst episode of the season so far, but it would’ve been pretty hard to outdo the first three.  There was also a side story involving the other characters, but I found it to be kind of annoying too.  Basically they were making fun of how Ted (Josh Radnor) is the third wheel of Marshall (Jason Segel) and Lily’s (Alyson Hannigan) relationship.  It included a very uncomfortable scene where Ted signs the three of them up for a birthing class and Lily doesn’t show up, leaving Ted and Marshall to take the class by themselves.  In the end, Ted learns that he needs to give Marshall and Lily some space when necessary.   

HIMYM returns Monday at 8/7c on CBS when Ted will reportedly take his architecture class on a field trip.