How I Met Your Mother "The Autumn of Breakups" Review: Another Couple Down

By Bill Kuchman

Nov 06, 2012

How I Met Your Mother S08E05: "The Autumn of Breakups"

Victoria is gone.

A season ago, I never thought I’d be celebrating the moment when How I Met Your Mother jettisoned the once-popular girlfriend of Ted Mosby, but after "The Autumn of Breakups," I am. I’m sorry, Ashley Williams, but the HIMYM writers took your character—a character who was possibly the greatest missed opportunity of Ted’s life—and turned her into a one-note, caricatured, and even petty individual. If HIMYM were to introduce some soap opera-esque twist that the woman Ted had been dating wasn’t actually Victoria but was instead her boring twin sister (let's call her Wictoria), I’d be completely on board.

Anyway, after a hurricane delay, HIMYM returned this week looking to find its narrative strength once again. The series has been all over the place in this still very young season, but "The Autumn of Breakups" showed a few signs that HIMYM is ready to get things back on track. There were still a few rough patches, but with Victoria gone, we’ve cleared out another piece of dead wood that HIMYM has been stumbling over.

The demise of Ted and Victoria was pretty straightforward, and it was something most of us saw coming from the very start of the season. Victoria made some joking comments about leaving Klaus at the altar for Ted and talking about how crazy it would be to accept a job in Denver. Marshall and Lily pointed out to Ted that Victoria was obviously looking for something more serious and not particularly interested in taking it slow. Ted confronted Victoria about this... and then proposed to Victoria. Victoria told Ted she'd say yes under one condition—that he end his friendship with Robin.

When Victoria started hanging out with the group and Robin in the beginning of this season, I thought HIMYM had forgotten about Victoria’s warning to Ted last season that as long as he remained friends with Robin, his ex-girlfriend, he’d never find "the one." Looks like I was wrong: The writers were just letting it eat away at Victoria until the time came for her to give Ted an ultimatum. Ted had to choose between Victoria as his wife or Robin in his life.

Ted’s decision to pick Robin over Victoria should finally close the door on Victoria. Like Marshall and Lily, I’m torn on what Ted should’ve done. If we were dealing with Victoria 1.0, it would’ve been a lot easier to pick her as the woman who could have been his wife. But Victoria 2.0 just wasn’t worth losing Robin over.

So what’s next for Ted? Former Saturday Night Live cast member Abby Elliott (who’s also the daughter of Chris Elliott, the actor who plays Lily’s dad) is slated to appear in a few upcoming episodes of HIMYM. Will she be Ted’s last fling before he finds the mother? One thing that keeps coming up in the comments of these reviews is that we should care less about the mother reveal and more about the actual stories that are happening in each episode. If Elliott’s character is anything like Victoria’s second coming, I’m going to have to start agreeing with that sentiment. The journey to find the mother should be rewarding. It should be fun. This recent Ted storyline wasn’t either of those things. And so I hope that HIMYM mixes things up with Ted’s next relationship.

While Ted’s relationship with Victoria was crumbling, Marshall and Lily spent the episode serving as Ted’s sassy friends, dolling out relationship advice with a side helping of MMMHMMMs and snaps. Marshall attempted to channel his inner goddess (who spoke with a borderline racist accent) but couldn’t nail down the role after he gave out horrible advice to everyone at MacLaren’s.

While the Ted/Victoria storyline drove this episode, it was Barney’s latest round of adventures that gave the episode its spark. Without Ted around to help him look for ladies, Barney stumbled across the perfect replacement wingman—er, wingdog: Brover. After finding this dog on the street, Barney not only made Brover a huge part of his pickup game, he also made the pup a huge part of his life. For a short time, Barney and Brover went everywhere together, both of them decked out in fine suits. At MacLaren’s, Brover was allowed to stand on the bar as women flocked to him. Bringing your dog into a bar? That just seems unfair when it comes to getting girls to notice you. Also, it seems a bit unhygienic, but I’ll leave that one up to MacLaren’s management. The Barney-Brover bromance was cut short when Brover’s true owner called Barney to say that her dog had run away. Barney may have been disappointed to find out that Brover’s real name was Mr. Sprinkles, but the owner invited him inside for a drink.

Barney’s reaction to discovering that Brover had an owner reminded me of his reaction to learning that Robin hadn’t broken up with Kevin last season—the quiet excusal, the slow walk away. While Barney left MacLaren’s to remove rose petals from Robin’s room after his last heartbreak, he was ready to throw himself off Robin’s balcony this time. Ouch. Poor Barney. How many episodes do we have left until he gets back together with Robin?

Speaking of Robin, anyone who had hers and Nick’s relationship down as the final survivor of the Autumn of Breakups should now collect his or her prize. Nick, the character who up until this episode never even had a personality, is still standing. Surprisingly, I actually warmed up to Nick with this episode. His awful attempts at coming up with a catchphrase for his local-access cooking show, Nick: The Bad Boy Chef, were quite funny. The character’s acceptance of Robin having guy friends in her life may prove to be stupid, but at least it showed that he wasn’t just a one-dimensional character.


– I’m still not used to Ted living in Quinn’s former apartment. After seven seasons, I guess it’ll take some time to remember that Marshall and Lily are now the full-time residents of the original pad.

– Barney gushing about Brover, his new wingman: “The bitches love him. He buries bones all day. No one chases tail like him.”

– Ted asking Lily about Marshall’s inner goddess search: “When did Marshall become a slightly more feminine you?

– Honestly, the whole “Marshall’s inner goddess” storyline didn’t do it for me. Didn’t really fit in with the characters. Marshall searching for his inner Sasquatch would be something I’d completely buy, though.

– When Barney first introduced Brover at the bar, I didn’t even realize Robin was sitting with Nick. I thought it was Ted. Upon realizing that it was Robin’s boyfriend, I then realized that I didn’t remember his name. That doesn’t bode well for Nick’s staying power.

– Victoria to Ted after pulling out her wedding dress: “Should I keep this wedding dress or do you think I’ll never ever need it again?”

– Victoria debunking the myth of the Mosby boys and their detective skills: “The Mosby boys were you, your sister, and a neighborhood squirrel you thought you had tamed.”

– Barney (as Brover’s wingman) to another dog’s owner: “How old’s your dog?” Other owner: “Five.” Barney: “How old’s that in dog years?” Other owner: “Like 35.” Barney: “We’re done here.”

– Ted to Marshall and Lily: “You guys are the worst.”

– Ted has now proposed to two women on HIMYM. Even though Victoria’s proposal came with a real ring and roses, his proposal to Stella had so much more going for it. I think I got too invested in Stella …

– Victoria on why Ted can’t remain friends with Robin: “There’s too much history there. Robin’s the reason we broke up the first time. Robin’s our roadblock. Robin’s the deep, dark pit where our relationship goes to die. But nicest girl in the world. Salt of the earth.”

– Nick’s attempts at finding a catchphrase: “Oh my gosh, who’s ready to nosh?” “Who’s popping a chub for some grub?” “Who’s ready to eat my meat?”

– Did we know that Barney went with Robin to drop off her dogs at her aunt’s farm in Season 1? I don’t remember that ever being mentioned. It seems like a very sweet thing for Season 1 Barney to do. Either way, Robin’s realization that her aunt’s close friend was more than that was great. “No she’s not a lesbian … nor does she farm them.”

– Did anyone else have trouble recording this episode last night? It seems some cable providers never updated their listings after last week's preemption due to Hurricane Sandy, and my DVR thought HIMYM was a repeat last night. If yours missed it too, you can watch the episode online right here.

What'd you think of this week's episode?

  • Comments (41)
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  • AriSky Nov 10, 2012

    As far as breakups go, this one was a sweet one. She gave him an ultimatum but she didn't plant expectation on him. It was almost as if she knew what his decision would be (and I'm sure she did) and that they were done, which is why it bothers me that she jumped on his proposal.. Victoria let Ted off the hook very gently - for a moment I almost thought they'd make it (I couldn't tell which couple was going this episode) - but then it's done. It was quiet and very final. Good job, HIMYM.

  • agibaer Nov 09, 2012

    I have to say, I'm just watching the show because of Neil Patrick Harris. The rest of the cast just sucks.

    Alyson: We all saw you in American Pie sticking a flute up *peep*. That's why we like you. But you are playing the same character in this show. Sexually experienced open-to-everything-redhead with a virgin for a boyfriend/husband.

    Jason: Sorry, you're a decent comedian, but not a good actor and in this category you are in good company with your kind look-alikes Seth Rogan, Zach Galifianakis and Jonah Hill.

    Josh: I like your surname, it's really cool. Even sounds cool spellt backwards. Rondar - sounds like Conan's sidekick. But that's really all there is to you. I know, the writers made your cahracter into what it is, but you're just so bleedin' BORING and self-righteous. Get a life! And keep one of the girls you shag! You must be way ahead of Barney!

    Cobie: Sorry, but you are ugly. Everyone single one of my friends, co-workers and people I meet on the street agree. There's the sex, boyish, closet lesbian who gives men a wet night's dream, and then there's you.

    BARNEY! Bro (I hate that word), you're the best! I said to my pals while watching Harold & Kumar, watch out for this one, he'll be back, oh yes, and he was! Nice job! Don't hang out with Elton John too much, his suits are not your style!

  • smartinez_80241 Nov 08, 2012

    okay so I have a question. Do we know for sure that the kids that Ted is telling the story to are his kids? He is telling them about how he met their mother but do we know that he is the father? I am thinking those are Barney's kids. Ted and Robin end up together and never have kids - which is why Ted is telling stories to Barney's kids.

  • sduvoisin Nov 13, 2012

    They call him Dad in many of the flashbacks. In one of them he says, "I'm never telling my kids this story." And the kids look at him like, "I can't believe our Dad told us this story." And he asks them, "Am I a bad Dad?"

  • mori1bund Nov 09, 2012

    He started this episode with telling the kids how UNCLE Barney is such a dog.

  • zampognaro Nov 08, 2012

    Intriguing ... but, no. :-)

  • jocey11 Nov 08, 2012

    I really did not like this episode, when I saw that Barney's wing-man was going to be a dog, I thought it was ridiculous, the writing in this episode was horrible it's just the worst episode from this show.

  • ToddMurray Nov 08, 2012

    Worst episode in the history of show. The writing has been going downhill for a while now, but I never imagined it could get much worse than last season. Boy was I wrong!

    They had a great opportunity with Victoria to show why the amazing girl that got away in Ted's 20's wasn't necessarily the right girl for him in his 30's. Instead she was rarely seen, insinuating all along that it was going quite well despite a few newly discovered quirks, until wham, out of the blue, yet another rehash of "you can't be friends with Robin" / Ross-Rachel-Friends rip-off. Lazy, sad, pathetic writing. Oh HIMYM, I weep for what you once were. :'(

  • FriendsSherlock Nov 08, 2012

    Am I the only one that was bothered by the fact that the Ted/Robin/Victoria situation was copying the Ross/Rachel/Emily story arc in Friends?

  • AlexisMendoza3 Nov 08, 2012

    Honestly, I'm just so tired of the whole every guy's life has to revolve around Robin in some way that it breaks their relationships. And I am sadden by Victoria's personality change. They really took a lot from her character. Lily and Marshall aren't as good anymore and can't even be seen without each other.

  • FoxZerro Nov 08, 2012

    I don't know why you would take the dynamic character of Marshall and make him more like the abomination of a character that Lily has become... Awful just awful

  • CrazyAsian1080 Nov 08, 2012

    I think this is one of those episodes where the parts were better than the whole. When I first saw this episode I didn't like it, but after reading the Q&N; section I remember all those moments and they were good.

    I think the problem was Lilshal. I have nothing against Lily or Marshal, but whenever the writers Homerize either of them I want to stab myself in the eye. I mean all the parts where Marshal and Lily were acting like normal real people were good and touching, but whenever Marshal went insane it was just painful to watch.

    Anywho, I said it before, and I'll say it again, no matter how rocky HIMYM seems to get, but the end they always manage to pull it together and make care for the characters so Im just waiting for that turn in this season.

  • Danimita Nov 07, 2012

    I think "ruining" Victoria was done on purpose. She and Ted had to break up, so they made her less likable. From the very first episode of the season, Klaus planted the seed of doubt of wether Victoria was as perfect as Ted (and we) remembered her. Then came the "she can be quite annoying" phase, the "she wants to get married NOW!" phase and finally the "choose between one of your best friends or her" part. Had she been the same Victoria Ted fell in love with back in season 1, he would have chosen her instead of Robin. But that couldn't happen for the sake of the story.

    And yet even though they turned her into such an annoying character, I still felt we got a glimpse of her old self when she told Ted "I really hope you get her some day".

    All in all, I didn't find the episode to be that bad. Honestly, I thought it was way better than many episodes of the previous season. At least here I got a couple of laughs and one step closer to the mother.

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