by Michelle Zoromski
This fourth season seemed to settle down the chase for the titular mother. While Ted was busy dating Stella, the gang settled into many stand alone episodes which were every bit as entertaining as episodes devoted to Ted's love life. Our gang kept busy - tracking down the best burger in NY, changing jobs, and spending plenty of time hanging out at their favorite bar - and the real fun of this season was in the little details.
This was the season with the multiple interventions complete with intervention banner. Not only was that great fun on its own, but Marshall's use of visual aids later in the season just capped it off. No other show could pull off these kinds of small, inside-jokes and still keep things fresh and funny. Even Barney's catch-phrases aren't overused, which shows great restraint on behalf of the writers.
While Stella and Ted are planning their future together in New Jersey, their spontaneous wedding plans erupt when their exes are both invited at the wedding. Bad for Ted, but good for the show. Stella was a fun character at first, but when it became clear she wasn't going to be the mother, it was increasingly hard to care about her. Thankfully, though, there is a point to their relationship, as it leads Ted through his career struggles.
Barney began the season believing he's in love with Robin, and helped her search for a new job with an awesome video resume. Still, he is Barney; his feelings don't stop him from hitting on multiple other women ÃÆÃÂ¢ÃÂ¢Ã¢â¬Å¡ÃÂ¬ÃÂ¢Ã¢âÂ¬Ã â and in what may be his best scam ever, he even picks up a girl as himself, from the future. Barney and Robin may actually be one of the best couples in television history if the writers can keep up their banter and conflicted interest in each other.
Lily and Marshall discussed adding a baby to their marriage - and then decide to wait. This was a relief for viewers, since throwing a baby into the mix can bring about such a "jump the shark" feel, but it was surprising considering Alyson Hannigan's real life pregnancy. In fact, this may be best known as the season with the hidden pregnancies, since Cobie Smulders was also expecting. The show made landmark use out of giant purses (and basketballs, party decorations, dry cleaning) to hide their growing mid-sections. And while the show bravely moved forward without Lily for a few episodes, things seemed to pick up right where they left off when she returned.
A stellar Robin-Marshall episode, titled "Little Minnesota," makes it clear that these two do not get enough screen time together. With Robin homesick and unemployed (and at risk of being deported), this pairing brought out the best Robin Sparkles reference of the season, when Marshall leads a rousing karaoke version of "Let's Go to the Mall!"
In a plot line we expected much more out of, Ted's sister moved to New York. Now, while this did give us some of Barney's best song parody work, we really expected Heather to become an occasional character on the show - but it's like she never existed, let alone that she lives in the same city.
Regardless of who the mother is and how Ted meets her, the fun in this show is the journey (and the small clues along the way). With friends like these, Ted shouldn't worry and if nothing else the Machiavellian genius Lily will makes sure he ends up with the right woman.