'How I Met Your Mother': 'The Autumn of Breakups' and Victoria's underwhelming return

how-i-met-your-mother-ted-victoria-breakup.jpgOn the one hand, "How I Met Your Mother" gave Victoria a pretty good sendoff in Monday's (Nov. 5) episode: Her parting with Ted in "The Autumn of Breakups" was one of the more evenhanded, grown-up splits Ted has made with a non-Mother, non-Robin girlfriend in the show's history.

On the other hand, strong final scene aside, it's hard not to wonder why the show would make such a big deal out of Victoria's return only to under-use her so much.

As a whole, "The Autumn of Breakups" was not a very good episode of "HIMYM." The side stories -- Barney and his wing-dog, Marshall finding his inner Gayle King and Nick's tortured culinary catchphrases -- were scattershot at best, and the main story about Ted and Victoria realizing they weren't the ones for each other didn't feel like it had nearly enough foundation.

It's not that Victoria's request that Ted stop seeing Robin was completely unreasonable (just like Emily's request to Ross re: Rachel on "Friends" wasn't). Nor was Ted's response that Robin is family to him, especially since we know Ted and Robin aren't destined to be together either.

But between the season premiere and this week, Victoria was barely there. We heard about how happy she and Ted supposedly were, but we rarely saw it -- nor did we see her interact much with the rest of Ted's friends, which meant we never really saw how much Ted and Robin's relationship bothered her.

One of my biggest fears for Season 8 of "How I Met Your Mother" was that by bringing back Victoria for a significant arc, the show would retroactively tarnish her standing as Ted's most fondly remembered ex. Aside from Robin, the show has not painted many of Ted's girlfriends with a very positive brush (see Stella, Zoe et al), but Victoria managed to escape that, partly because Ashley Williams and Josh Radnor have very good chemistry and partly because of the way their first relationship ended -- it was Ted's fault.

Co-creator Craig Thomas reassured me somewhat when he said in an interview that the writers viewed Victoria as " that other person that, if a few things had gone differently, that could be my life story." Victoria and Ted's final scene in "The Autumn of Breakups" helped preserve that idea, and that's a good thing. It's just too bad that the show didn't use one of its best recurring characters better in the run-up to her goodbye.
Photo/Video credit: CBS