How I Met Your Mother Review: “The Time Travelers” (Season 8, Episode 20)

Well that was… weird. I think it’s safe to say that The Time Travelersis by far the most peculiar episode of How I Met Your Mother, or at least should be in consideration for the honor. This episode brings together sci-fi elements, possible mental disorders, and the quickest turn from cartoonish to depressing ever, yet it all surprisingly fits.

This is actually a really good episode for the show, or at least one of the better ones we’ve seen this season. It properly blends everything together in a way that, against all odds, worked. When I say sci-fi elements I’m of course referring to the illusion of time traveling, and by the mental disorder bit I mean what Ted is going through. It’s impossible not to feel for him at this point. The guy has wanted to be with someone seriously more than anyone else for so long that he’s starting to have disturbing visions of his friends hanging out with him when he’s really stuck all alone. If you don’t cry inside (or outside) a little for what he’s going through, I feel bad for you as well.

The multiple Teds and Barneys was extremely well done. All fans of the show knew that there wasn’t any actual time travel going on, it would be too much of a deviation from the realistic, albeit sometimes tilted by subjectivity, way that the show handles Ted’s stories. As the episode went on I became more and more skeptical about a believable explanation for what we were seeing, but the one the show delivers is better than what I would’ve hoped for.

What’s most important about this episode is that it brings focus back onto Ted. Nearly every season has ended with a strong focus on him, and considering he’s getting extremely close to meeting the mother, it looks like this season isn’t going to be any different. The writers did an excellent job at pulling all the other characters out of the focus, without completely removing them from the story.

The interaction between Marshall and Robin is the exact sort of story that Ted would remember, but not necessarily feel the need to share with his kids when recounting the journey of how he met their mother. It blends into the background, but provides another source of laughter, which is much needed when looking at the 180 degree shift the episode has.

If I have any real problem with this episode, it’s that the end is almost too cheesy. The part about Ted being all alone, with only one ticket to Robots Vs. Wrestlers is depressing as hell. That is one of the most heart-wrenching things I believe I’ve ever seen on a sitcom, but then when he tells his children about all the things he would’ve done instead, it became a little much for me.

The last scene, where Ted gives that touching speech to his wife, is beautifully delivered, but the punch in the face almost ruined it for me. It could’ve been much more effective if Ted had simply walked away. The punch was an unnecessary addition.

The episode helps confirm what I’ve said all along in that Josh Radnor is truly the driving force of this show. He’s the premiere dramatic actor of the bunch, yet it seems that many times his acting is dismissed by people saying he’s simply playing himself. While I have no personal relationship with Radnor, I’ll venture to say that visions of his friends in a bar when they aren’t there and a love speech to a woman he’s yet to meet aren’t Josh Radnor. That’s Ted Mosby. Radnor does a phenomenal job of letting us close enough to himself to make it all seem believable. While the rest of the characters may get the most laughs or have the most lovable quirks, this show is, and always has been, Radnor’s show.

Tonight’s episode truly makes me excited for what is yet to come this season. While this isn’t going to be marked down as one of my favorite episodes or one that I’ll be able to watch over and over again, it is one of the most effective and rawly emotional episodes that this show has aired.

Other Random Notes

  • Anyone who thought Ted told Robin he loved her too soon, well guess what, he just told the mother he loved her 45 DAYS before he meets her. Before he meets her. Classic Shmosby.
  • One other stray thought, and this may be way off base, but the way Ted says he wished he had 45 days more with her, and sad music is playing in the background, almost makes it seem as if the mother has died. Perhaps Ted is telling his kids the story after she’s dead. That would also explain how she’s managed to never walk in the room during this ridiculously long story.
  • Minnesota Tidalwave: Coconut Rum, Peach Schnapps, Vanilla Vodka, Strawberry Creme Liqueur, Cranberry Juice, Sugar, Maraschino Cherries.
  • “Stop DVRing the news! You’re never going to catch up.”
  • “Are you Zuckerberging me?”
  • Excellent use of Billy Joel.

Check back next week  for my thoughts on the next episode in the eighth season of How I Met Your Mother.

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