January 4th, 2011
02:03 PM ET
Editor’s Note: This post contains spoilers from the January 3, 2011 episode of "How I Met Your Mother."
The bright red “50” sitting on Lily and Marshall’s doctor’s desk at the beginning of Monday night’s “How I Met Your Mother” looked like any other prop… at first.
But, a moment later, when the numbers 49 and 48 appeared on a pamphlet and a bottle of hot sauce, viewers knew something was up.
It was the countdown to bad news, which, for a moment, seemed like it might be the couple’s inability to conceive a child naturally.
But, as most fans likely already know, the bad news - delivered by Lily at the very end of the episode - was that Marshall’s father, played by recurring guest star Bill Fagerbakke, had died.
Looking back, his death was imminent – the flashbacks of Marshall calling his dad whenever he had good news, and having his parents show up in NYC the second they thought something might be wrong. And, as some bloggers pointed out, Marshall losing his father makes a lot of sense. It’s just one of the ways the show will evolve as its characters transition from 20-somethings to 30-somethings.
And while “How I Met Your Mother” is no stranger to incorporating heavy plot lines – Barney searching for his real father, Ted getting left at the altar and, now, Lily and Marshall’s trouble getting pregnant – death is a different beast in sitcom world.
“8 Simple Rules” successfully tackled the theme when John Ritter, the show’s main character and backbone, died suddenly in 2003. And it’s safe to say “How I Met Your Mother” will approach the senior Eriksen’s death in a similar way: using a little bit of drama and a little bit of humor.
Despite the care in which the episode was executed, it wouldn’t have worked if Jason Segel (Marshall) weren’t such a dynamic actor.
Like Alan Sepinwall says in his review on Hitfix.com: “The guy doesn't get much of a chance to show his dramatic chops (even his darker moments in the Apatow universe are usually played for laughs in some way), but that was some outstanding, naked, very touching work right there.”
What did you think of the way “HIMYM” handled the death of Marshall’s father? Were you expecting it, or were you caught off guard?
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