Moments after How I Met Your Mother aired last night, my Twitter stream exploded with remarkably spoiler-free, angry “#HIMYM” hashtags. Normally a casual viewer of the comedy, I had no idea why everyone was in a tizzy until this morning when I finally watched the episode.
[If you, like me, tend to let HIMYM gather on your DVR for a lazy Saturday marathon, stop reading now. Spoilers ahead.] The title of the episode, “Bad News,” promised a bomb and even counted down to the moment using numbers that were hidden Easter egg-style in the dialogue and the set to build extra suspense. Of course, we anticipated the blow would be related to Marshall and Lily’s fertility troubles — the main premise of last night’s episode. Not so. As the background countdown dwindled, Marshall ran outside to call his dad and tell him the good news about his test results — he and Lily were, indeed, fertile — and Lily arrived in a cab (that donned the number “001”) with some bad news. Marshall’s dad had died of a heart attack.
I can understand why some felt like it was a bit of “a cheap emotional shot,” as I saw one person declare, but I think the sudden death of Marshall’s father couldn’t have been more realistic. Horrible events sometimes catch you by surprise. While I admit that the countdown cheapened the moment a bit — okay, a lot — it was not enough to affect the impact.
Hell yes, I cried.
I cried with Alyson Hannigan, who EW editor Adam B. Vary and I agree is one of the best criers on TV. My heart ached something fierce when Marshall uttered his final line into Lily’s shoulder, “I’m not ready for this.” And I hated how much I loved this twist.
What about you, PopWatchers? What did you think of last night’s bait-and-switch on HIMYM? Were you one of the angry Tweeters I saw last night? Did you like the countdown? Did you feel like it prepared you for the twist at all? Sound off below.
UPDATE: Special thanks to astute reader “Remy” for finding this Tumblr blog with all 50 of the countdown numbers in last night’s episode.