Tuned In

The Morning After: How I Met the Mother of Your Much Older Half-Sister?

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Ted and Stella get intimate. / MONTY BRINTON/CBS

We’ve already established that all it takes to make me go gaga is to put a Big Star song on the soundtrack of your TV show. But I’m pretty sure that even if the beautiful “Thirteen” had not been playing over Ted and Stella’s two-minute date, the end of How I Met Your Mother would still have made me go all gooey. Just as it’s hard to write a joke in a comedy that the script requires a character to laugh at–as opposed to the home audience laughing at it–so too is it rare to find a scene in which a character charms a date that doesn’t seem self-consciously precious from your living room. But Ted’s perfectly choreographed speed date was so adorable that I was willing to overlook the fact that a New York City cab would have gotten stuck in traffic going around the block all those times.

“Ten Sessions” was another of those HIMYM episodes that makes me think this show is sort of the sitcom version of Lost—what with its nonlinear storytelling, its breaks in form, its flashbacks, flashforwards, circlings back and carefully deposited Easter eggs. It’s a weird hybrid of a show, half normal people-sitting-on-a-couch sitcom, half unconventional comedy. Here, Ted’s tattoo resurfaced from the beginning of the season, as did the story of him wanting to date his doctor, which gave birth to “The Platinum Rule.” (OK, the latter wasn’t that long ago in show time, but it seems like it because of the strike.) It’s not Desmond unstuck-in-time territory exactly, but it makes you do a little more work than The Big Bang Theory.

Sarah Chalke was well cast as Dr. Stella, even if it was a little jarring to see her in a role so similar to Elliot in Scrubs. But I have to wonder how this works going forward–how likely she is to be The Mother–given the casting backstory with Alicia Silverstone (who was meant for the role before Britney Spears was cast for her guest spot). The way Ted and Stella connected seemed to point in that direction, but Chalke’s unavailability (for now, anyway) seems to preclude that. (Also, Future Ted would have a stepdaughter to account for, although presumably she’d be out of the house by the time he has The Talk with his biological kids.) If not, are we working toward a reveal, sometime next season, in which Silverstone gets re-cast as Chalke’s sister and we discover, “…and that was how I met your Aunt Stella”? Either way, it’s aan unfortunate waste of a good setup.

Incidentally, there was somebody else famous in this episode wasn’t there? Spears pulled off the role of receptionist Abby well enough, I thought, though it was a little distracting that she was introduced in a ponytail and glasses, then scene by scene began to look like Britney Spears. It didn’t make me paarticularly want to see any more of Aunt Abby, though. You?