From now until the end of season 8, my How I Met Your Mother recaps will be written as a countdown of sorts. And while there are no Slap Bets involved, it’s perhaps the most important waiting game on the show: Countdown To The Mother. I think we have a good chance of seeing Ted meet The Mother by the end of season 8—and then whether the show continues on to have her join the group in season 9, or stops right there, is up to the writers and cast. Regardless, we’re in the home stretch and we already know that Barney and Robin get together, so really there’s nothing else to do but put on our Sensory Deprivator 5000s and analyze every episode for clues and foreshadowing.
Which brings us to 8×03 “Nannies”! First, let’s look at what happened to the rest of the gang. Frankly, it’s difficult to care about Marshall and Lily‘s baby plotlines, but the writers seem to have hit upon a good system: They combined the new parents’ search for the perfect nanny with Barney trying to readjust to being single. He’s taking the Quinn break-up surprisingly hard, but we can’t really level emotionally with him because (as Vulture pointed out) this is his third time reeling from losing the relationship that was supposed to change him. And after Bangtober works and he sabotages Lily and Marshall’s best chance for a nanny, it was really sweet of him to pay Mrs. Buckminster‘s ludicrous salary. I even liked the ending, where he hires the nanny himself to make sure he doesn’t use awful lines on women… and then they sleep together! It was just weird enough to work, especially considering who Barney lost his virginity to.
Now, on to the more engaging — though still lackluster — part of the episode, Ted and Robin competing to see who has the better relationship. That dynamic easily fits in with the show’s commentary on dating, but it still came across as parody. To be fair, we got some great one-liners, like when Ted predicts that he and Victoria will be attending a wedding together in Jamaica six months from now, only for Robin to ask, “Jamaica, that’s an island, right?” and then one-up him with the reveal that she and Nick are spending New Year’s together in Hawaii. (“Ha-aloha-burn.”) Then, of course, each broke down and revealed that their significant others have habits they find intensely annoying and counter to their personalities. Nick gets emotional at baseball games and cries when Robin kills a spider, whereas Victoria will leave her shit all over Ted’s apartment.
First off, these traits are ridiculous cliches—the sissy guy and the slob girl? Please. They don’t fit the actors or the characters, who deserve better. You know what else they deserve? More screen time! At least we got to see Michael Trucco sniffle a little during the game in MacLaren’s, but Ashley Williams was on-screen just long enough to kick off a shoe and then disappear upstairs. What gives? A few months ago, co-creator Craig Thomas said that Victoria will play a key role in this season: “Now, in the back of Ted’s head, if there’s anyone left from the women he’s dated who he still thinks could be the mother of his children, it’s Victoria. But he screwed it up. He was obsessed with Robin [and] he ended the relationship very badly. So Ted in 2012… very much thinks she could be the right one. [...] This is the last door we have to close before Ted can meet the mother.”
But in order to make us care at all about how Victoria plays into Ted meeting The Mother, we need to actually see her and Ted’s relationship! Remember 1×15 “Game Night” where the gang interrogates Victoria at game night, only for everyone to recount embarrassing stories and bond? It’s a great example of how Victoria fits into the group — even with Ted’s then-obsession with Robin — and allowed her to stand on her own without just being one of Ted’s non-Mother girlfriends.
It boils down to this: The writers need to give Victoria more material, or else we won’t take her seriously as even an important relationship in Ted’s pre-Mother life. At least in 8×02 “The Pre-Nup” we got some emotional depth:
Of course, Future Ted has already warned us that both Ted/Victoria and Robin/Nick will implode within a month, so the writers better get crackin’.
Photo: CBS via lumberjake on Tumblr