I guess we’ll see you around, Sarah Chalke. That was an abrupt sign-off. How I Met Your Mother is a show whose plotting and story structure I generally praise without shame, but I have to take slight umbrage with how Bays and Thomas opted to wrap up The Ballad of Stella and Ted. There was simply way too much story in last night’s episode than twenty-two minutes can reasonably hold. How I Met Your Mother did the best it could in that accelerated time frame, generating laughs amidst the necessary dramatic beats. Yet, at the end, my most pressing thought was that this needed to be an hour-long episode. The “wedding episode” always needs to take its time and, while I suppose there was no actual wedding to film, there was more than enough material to make it a two-parter.
I’m not bashing the episode at all. I loved it. Just thought that the story would have been served better in a double-long format. I would have liked to see more action at the Namaste Yoga retreat, more Lily and Marshall, more internal conflict from Robin, more neuroses from Ted. Stella’s eventual departure, and reason for it, was dropped on the audience like a flying elbow to the face. We needed more subtle scenes between Stella and her ex-husband/baby daddy. The Daily Show’s Jason Jones was put in a tough position as Stella’s Ex, but I thought he was just OK. Jones overplayed it just a tad.
However, there’s no point going over the What Ifs. Stella and Ted are not getting married. Ted screwed it up a little, but it may have been a subconscious sabotage. At least, that’s what I’m going to pretend it was. Because, if it wasn’t, Ted’s just a dullard. Bringing the ex-husband and inviting Robin were poor moves, but I was not expecting Stella to exit Stage Right before the wedding even got underway. And, the whole “unresolved issues with the Ex” thing was really rushed and unearned. But, here I am, complaining about the story some more. Really, it’s not all that important. We knew Stella wasn’t the mom and, as great as Sarah Chalke is, Stella was kind of a wet blanket. We want Ted back to being a bachelor and way the hell away from New Jersey.
The writers, instead of giving Stella a protracted goodbye over multiple episodes, ripped the band-aid off in one fell swoop last night. How I Met Your Mother viewers are smart, so this may have been the correct move, story issues be damned. If it was a multi-episode arc in which Stella departed, viewers would catch on early, and it would become anti-climactic. Especially savvy viewers already knew that Sarah Chalke wasn’t long for How I Met Your Mother, so the quick departure was probably the best way to keep the element of surprise in play for Stella. So, kudos to the writers, I suppose.
Stella will go down as just another girl in the annals of How I Met Your Mother. Chalke might come back to complicate matters for Ted later in the series, but it won’t happen too soon. I expect Ted to find another love interest some time between now and the end of the season, but for now, I am very much looking forward to Ted getting back into the game, Barney at his side.
-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image Courtesy of CBS)