So a lot of funny moments were rolled out in last night’s episode, but if you’ve seen it, you already know there’s only one possible thing we could address first. And that thing is (SPOILER ALERT):
Marshall’s dad died. Seriously. That happened. On this show. Within this genre. Why? There is no reason immediately apparent, but the fact that it took place in the very last scene means the plotline will weigh heavily in the next episode (which isn’t on until January 17, by the way, and is called “Last Words”) and then be threaded, presumably, throughout the rest of the season. That means we’re reserving judgment until we see how this plays out. Being a member of the large chorus of people who consistently called out the frivolity of last season, there would be a real, deeply rooted sense of satisfaction if the HIMYM writers managed to introduce this heavy of a plot element and then resolve it in a realistic, thematically appropriate fashion. It’s a formidable challenge, and it’s one we are certainly impressed that they set for themselves. And with that said: Yes, right now, this feels like a bit of an overreaction to the general criticism of season five. But let’s give it a chance here, okay, guys?
Also: How odd was it to see Jason Segel have to switch on the “I’m acting here, motherfuckers” juice? The world has not seen this man so earnestly worked up arguably since the days of Nick Andapolis. (Segel would cry all the time on Undeclared, but that was more of the genius-level comedic variety.) And respect to the scene’s understated dialogue (particularly “I’m not ready for this”). Clearly, the show hasn’t lost its ways completely with the decision: This is, at least so far, exactly how HIMYM would handle a relatively high-visibility secondary character’s death. The question is, again, why they felt the need to go down this particular path. Maybe they were bored and felt they needed to shake things up. Maybe it really will perfectly serve the story, a dark counterbalance to Marshall and Lily's inevitable pregnancy reverie. Maybe the guy who plays Marshall’s dad has a severe gambling problem and started demanding way too much money. It’ll be interesting to find out.
And in the interest of comprehensiveness: Marshall and Lily go to a fertility doctor who, for no reason at all, looks exactly like Barney, and find out they’re totally both fine; everyone at Robin’s new job makes fun of her at first for all of her embarrassing viral videos (Sherpoopy, heh), but then she eventually rights the ship; and Barney ineffectively tries to get someone to play laser tag with him.