How I Met Your Mother: Shelter Island
(S04E05) Ah... now I get it.
Now I get why Bays and Thomas wrote Sarah Chalke's character of Stella to be so incredibly dull that it invokes tears. I get why, despite the fact that Chalke has comedic acting skills to spare, she essentially played straight man to Ted and the rest of the Scooby gang. And I get why, even though Ted has professed that he was in love with her and wanted to be with her forever, it seemed like this was the worst chemistry Ted's ever had with a girlfriend.
I get all of it now, and now it all makes complete sense.
Carter and Craig didn't want us to like Stella.
You heard me. At the end of last season, too many people were starting to buy into Stella being the Mother, even though something about that didn't feel right. So instead of making Stella even more charming in her four episodes this year, the guys decided to make her even more dull, so no one had any doubt that a) Ted was going to get his heart broken and b) he was going to rebound quickly.
Heck, they even had Old Ted say "and that's how I met your mother!" to two blond kids, representing what would have happened if Stella told Robin to leave instead of Ted. It's almost as if the guys were acknowledging all the Mother speculation right there.
Don't get me wrong; I support Stella's notion that you shouldn't invite exes to a wedding. And, as you can see, she was really bitchy about it because she was more afraid of what she might do with Tony, rather than what Ted might do with Robin. But it's pretty obvious that her bitchiness leading up to the big reveal made her look even more unsuitable for Ted than before, and puts the fan in the position of cheering Robin on as she lectures Ted about how he's rushing into things and that this isn't the proper conclusion to his grand romantic quest.
Oh, about the rushing in part: the "let's get married in three days!" gambit seems to me to be Sitcomland code for, "Let's make up an implausible situation to clear this off our board as quickly as we can!" Just the fact that the wedding was on Shelter Island to begin with just so Robin can be on the ferry to see Stella and Tony's reunion was also a bit on the contrived side. Both contrivances took away from the usual emotional gut punch that Bays / Thomas and company have been good at conveying in these moments.
Don't get me wrong, though; it was a relatively funny episode. I just think there was too many turns to get to the destination we all thought we were going to, anyway.
Other funny stuff:
- Poor Barney: he had the formula to get back with Robin (achieved Numb3rs style); he resisted the advances of Stella's recently-jilted and horny sister ("I was a vegan for two years. I want some meat!"); he even had Robin outside his room with a bottle of scotch, thus bringing "Get Robin Drunk at Ted's Wedding" to fruition. Too bad the crunchy desk clerk got to him. His failure to resist on the lowest levels is the Best Barneysim of the week.
- Robin's job in Japan didn't last long, did it? Chimps with marshmallows, "Giant fan!"... just the background behind her desk told us that Robin wasn't poised to become the next Lara Logan.
- I think every groom has sympathized with Marshall's plight before his wedding. And I bet it all became noise to them, too.
- Jason Jones was perfect as the over-the-top macho but pathetic lovesick Tony. Too bad we didn't see more of him this season.
- This thing with Robin and Ted isn't done yet, is it? She'll move in with Ted and now Barn will be going after her while she tries to win back Ted. My, my.
- One more thing: Lara Spencer, talking about the CBS comedy lineup while cooking bagged pasta dinners? Creepy as hell. Hope I never see that again.