CBS’ How I Met Your Mother threw viewers for a bit of a loop on Monday (Oct. 20) night. If you haven’t watched the "Shelter Island" episode yet, though, you probably ought to skip reading what Josh Radnor and Sarah Chalke had to say about the twist.
I was on the HIMYM set a couple weeks ago for the episode and after swearing a blood-oath that I wouldn’t spoil anything major about the episode [I didn’t lie], it was possible to get Radnor and Chalke to talk about the suddenly uncertain future for Ted Mosby and Stella.
I kept my word and, in return, here’s what Chalke and Radnor thought when they read the conclusion of the "Shelter Island" script, which featured Stella ferrying away from Long Island with her ex, leaving Ted jilted at the altar.
"It never ceases to amaze me how clever they are with head-fakes and stringing the audience along and the twists and turns it takes," Chalke says. "You don’t see any of them coming. I love how they played it out. It was really fun to read. Even when I was reading it, you had no clue what direction it was going and every page was like, ‘What the?! And then this happens? What?’ They’re just so ridiculously smart, those writers. They know what they’re doing."
In a piece of particularly HIMYM-y meta-commentary, Monday’s episode even featured Future Ted talking to a pair of tow-headed Alternate Future Children as a fantasy, seeming putting a stake in the notion that Stella might be the mother of the series’ Actual Future Children. [It’s bizarre that that sentence makes sense if you watch the show.]
Radnor acknowledges that there may be the risk of some blowback from frustrated fans who were invested in the idea of Chalke’s Stella as that Future Mother.
"I think part of the blame lies with Sarah Chalke and her absolute winning, charming persona that’s so annoying!" Radnor jokes. "I guess there’s a danger in that, but the writers are also, much like the characters, they’re very self-conscious or conscious of what it is that they’re writing and the effect it’s going to have. They’re just really sharp guys, Carter [Bays] and Craig [Thomas] are just really smart storytellers and comic writers. I think they’ll know if they’ve gone too far and they’ll course-correct."
Chalke’s departure may not be final, but she acknowledges that it would be hard for the character to rebound.
"I think there’s going to be some Stella hate mail," she says. "She’s a bitch. She was a bitch. She left him hanging there. I mean, that’s kind of… It’s hard to come back from that."
The Scrubs veteran certainly wouldn’t rule out a return, though.
"Once, maybe…" she says. "We’ll see. Maybe just for him to come and junk-punch me. We don’t know."
For Radnor, though, Monday night’s episode was just an extension of what he sees as a long-running theme on the show.
"Essentially the whole series is a gender reversal if you look at it," Radnor explains. "The guys behave like girls and the girls behave like guys. Except for Barney, who behaves like an alien. It’s all flipped. You know, Lily and Robin are these tough-talking, no-bullsh*** girls and Ted and Marshall are these gooey, sentimental guys. So that’s just the way. I mean, who gets left at the altar in this episode? It’s not the girl wearing white."
If fans of the show are sad about Monday’s results, they should know that they have company.
"I’m always a hopeless romantic when I watch shows," Chalke says. "I love watching those types of storylines play out — it’s my favorite thing. But, I don’t know, they seemed so right for each other. And then… she left him at the altar like that. Pretty douchey move."
Did y’all see this one coming? Are you still a bit sad?