The audience reception makes it clear that How I Met Your Father hasn’t managed to imitate the success of its predecessor, but the creators are nevertheless compelling audiences to reach for their tissue boxes by incorporating a ton of references to How I Met Your Mother. This week’s surprise cameo was a little too on the nose to be considered a throwaway callback, though, with Kyle Maclachlan returning to the fictional universe to reprise his role as George Van Smoot aka the Captain.
For those of you in need of a memory refresh, the Captain was Zoey’s (Jennifer Morrison) husband who later found his soulmate in Becky (Boats, Boats, Boats!) after Ted and his wife began an affair. The character was obsessed with boats, though he also had an interest in arts, which allowed Marshall and Lily to spend a year in Italy after Barney’s wedding.
Discussing this surprise appearance, here’s what showrunner Isaac Aptaker has just told TVLine:
“It takes a while, especially on a multi-cam show, to get to know the characters, the friend group, and the vibe, and we wanted to make sure to give How I Met Your Father room to stand on its own two feet before we started bringing in bigger pieces from the expansive How I Met Your Mother universe. Towards the end of this season felt like the right time to dip our toes into the water and bring some of those beloved characters back.”
Maclachlan returns in the spiraling narrative of How I Met Your Father to bring the eccentric Captain back, still as large as life. The story reveals that the Captain has been cheating on Becky, so the two of them are in for a rude awakening. Sophie, meanwhile, assures her son that the Captain will be relevant to the plot in the future, which means we’ll hopefully continue to see Maclachlan in the upcoming episodes or seasons as well.
Elizabeth Berger, who’s the co-creator on HIMYF, also added that they came up with this twist pretty early on in production, which makes us wonder what other characters are making a return from How I Met Your Mother as this middling sequel inches towards its season one finale and beyond.