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How I Met Your Mother "The Autumn of Breakups" Review: Another Couple Down

How I Met Your Mother S08E05: "The Autumn of Breakups"

Victoria is gone.

A season ago, I never thought I’d be celebrating the moment when How I Met Your Mother jettisoned the once-popular girlfriend of Ted Mosby, but after "The Autumn of Breakups," I am. I’m sorry, Ashley Williams, but the HIMYM writers took your character—a character who was possibly the greatest missed opportunity of Ted’s life—and turned her into a one-note, caricatured, and even petty individual. If HIMYM were to introduce some soap opera-esque twist that the woman Ted had been dating wasn’t actually Victoria but was instead her boring twin sister (let's call her Wictoria), I’d be completely on board.

Anyway, after a hurricane delay, HIMYM returned this week looking to find its narrative strength once again. The series has been all over the place in this still very young season, but "The Autumn of Breakups" showed a few signs that HIMYM is ready to get things back on track. There were still a few rough patches, but with Victoria gone, we’ve cleared out another piece of dead wood that HIMYM has been stumbling over.

The demise of Ted and Victoria was pretty straightforward, and it was something most of us saw coming from the very start of the season. Victoria made some joking comments about leaving Klaus at the altar for Ted and talking about how crazy it would be to accept a job in Denver. Marshall and Lily pointed out to Ted that Victoria was obviously looking for something more serious and not particularly interested in taking it slow. Ted confronted Victoria about this... and then proposed to Victoria. Victoria told Ted she'd say yes under one condition—that he end his friendship with Robin.

When Victoria started hanging out with the group and Robin in the beginning of this season, I thought HIMYM had forgotten about Victoria’s warning to Ted last season that as long as he remained friends with Robin, his ex-girlfriend, he’d never find "the one." Looks like I was wrong: The writers were just letting it eat away at Victoria until the time came for her to give Ted an ultimatum. Ted had to choose between Victoria as his wife or Robin in his life.

Ted’s decision to pick Robin over Victoria should finally close the door on Victoria. Like Marshall and Lily, I’m torn on what Ted should’ve done. If we were dealing with Victoria 1.0, it would’ve been a lot easier to pick her as the woman who could have been his wife. But Victoria 2.0 just wasn’t worth losing Robin over.

So what’s next for Ted? Former Saturday Night Live cast member Abby Elliott (who’s also the daughter of Chris Elliott, the actor who plays Lily’s dad) is slated to appear in a few upcoming episodes of HIMYM. Will she be Ted’s last fling before he finds the mother? One thing that keeps coming up in the comments of these reviews is that we should care less about the mother reveal and more about the actual stories that are happening in each episode. If Elliott’s character is anything like Victoria’s second coming, I’m going to have to start agreeing with that sentiment. The journey to find the mother should be rewarding. It should be fun. This recent Ted storyline wasn’t either of those things. And so I hope that HIMYM mixes things up with Ted’s next relationship.

While Ted’s relationship with Victoria was crumbling, Marshall and Lily spent the episode serving as Ted’s sassy friends, dolling out relationship advice with a side helping of MMMHMMMs and snaps. Marshall attempted to channel his inner goddess (who spoke with a borderline racist accent) but couldn’t nail down the role after he gave out horrible advice to everyone at MacLaren’s.

While the Ted/Victoria storyline drove this episode, it was Barney’s latest round of adventures that gave the episode its spark. Without Ted around to help him look for ladies, Barney stumbled across the perfect replacement wingman—er, wingdog: Brover. After finding this dog on the street, Barney not only made Brover a huge part of his pickup game, he also made the pup a huge part of his life. For a short time, Barney and Brover went everywhere together, both of them decked out in fine suits. At MacLaren’s, Brover was allowed to stand on the bar as women flocked to him. Bringing your dog into a bar? That just seems unfair when it comes to getting girls to notice you. Also, it seems a bit unhygienic, but I’ll leave that one up to MacLaren’s management. The Barney-Brover bromance was cut short when Brover’s true owner called Barney to say that her dog had run away. Barney may have been disappointed to find out that Brover’s real name was Mr. Sprinkles, but the owner invited him inside for a drink.

Barney’s reaction to discovering that Brover had an owner reminded me of his reaction to learning that Robin hadn’t broken up with Kevin last season—the quiet excusal, the slow walk away. While Barney left MacLaren’s to remove rose petals from Robin’s room after his last heartbreak, he was ready to throw himself off Robin’s balcony this time. Ouch. Poor Barney. How many episodes do we have left until he gets back together with Robin?

Speaking of Robin, anyone who had hers and Nick’s relationship down as the final survivor of the Autumn of Breakups should now collect his or her prize. Nick, the character who up until this episode never even had a personality, is still standing. Surprisingly, I actually warmed up to Nick with this episode. His awful attempts at coming up with a catchphrase for his local-access cooking show, Nick: The Bad Boy Chef, were quite funny. The character’s acceptance of Robin having guy friends in her life may prove to be stupid, but at least it showed that he wasn’t just a one-dimensional character.

Notes and quotes

– I’m still not used to Ted living in Quinn’s former apartment. After seven seasons, I guess it’ll take some time to remember that Marshall and Lily are now the full-time residents of the original pad.

– Barney gushing about Brover, his new wingman: “The bitches love him. He buries bones all day. No one chases tail like him.”

– Ted asking Lily about Marshall’s inner goddess search: “When did Marshall become a slightly more feminine you?

– Honestly, the whole “Marshall’s inner goddess” storyline didn’t do it for me. Didn’t really fit in with the characters. Marshall searching for his inner Sasquatch would be something I’d completely buy, though.

– When Barney first introduced Brover at the bar, I didn’t even realize Robin was sitting with Nick. I thought it was Ted. Upon realizing that it was Robin’s boyfriend, I then realized that I didn’t remember his name. That doesn’t bode well for Nick’s staying power.

– Victoria to Ted after pulling out her wedding dress: “Should I keep this wedding dress or do you think I’ll never ever need it again?”

– Victoria debunking the myth of the Mosby boys and their detective skills: “The Mosby boys were you, your sister, and a neighborhood squirrel you thought you had tamed.”

– Barney (as Brover’s wingman) to another dog’s owner: “How old’s your dog?” Other owner: “Five.” Barney: “How old’s that in dog years?” Other owner: “Like 35.” Barney: “We’re done here.”

– Ted to Marshall and Lily: “You guys are the worst.”

– Ted has now proposed to two women on HIMYM. Even though Victoria’s proposal came with a real ring and roses, his proposal to Stella had so much more going for it. I think I got too invested in Stella …

– Victoria on why Ted can’t remain friends with Robin: “There’s too much history there. Robin’s the reason we broke up the first time. Robin’s our roadblock. Robin’s the deep, dark pit where our relationship goes to die. But nicest girl in the world. Salt of the earth.”

– Nick’s attempts at finding a catchphrase: “Oh my gosh, who’s ready to nosh?” “Who’s popping a chub for some grub?” “Who’s ready to eat my meat?”

– Did we know that Barney went with Robin to drop off her dogs at her aunt’s farm in Season 1? I don’t remember that ever being mentioned. It seems like a very sweet thing for Season 1 Barney to do. Either way, Robin’s realization that her aunt’s close friend was more than that was great. “No she’s not a lesbian … nor does she farm them.”

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Bill Kuchman
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