HIMYM is settling into a very assured, well-oiled groove quite nicely. Last night's episode, in which we see what happened during the tail end of that wedding from the prior episode, moved the ball along in a significant way, setting up the inevitable, but well-done-so-welcome, love triangle between Ted, Robin, and, Victoria. The show continues to play with time, not just in the sense that it's narrated from the future, and is, in essence, one giant flashback, but in how they often will present an episode's story as also being a flashback.
For example, in last night's episode, we heard and saw the whole Ted/Victoria courtship thing as Ted was telling Marshall and Lily about it. Later in the episode, we also saw that same timeframe flashbacked to through Robin's point of view. While the device lets the writers confound traditional expectations and present us with information when they want to, as opposed to when the story's natural timeline might demand it, it also adds to the series' gentle fable-like quality. The constant reminder that everyone's lives are composed of stories gives the show a sweet quality that pares nicely with the often ribald humor.
But what most impressed me about last night's episode was in how well-played the romantic moments were--not only in Ted and Victoria's sweet courtship but in Robin's belated realization of her feelings for Ted. None of it felt forced, none of it felt gimmicky, but instead very sweet and kind-of real. This quality was helped immensely by Ashley Williams' turn as Victoria. She gave the character a goofy, quirky side that was subtly played, but more importantly, she gave her a real sense of being--an almost melancholy air that kept the character from seeming fake, or written. On top of that, Williams looks like a real woman, not like an LA starlet, as is so often the case with sitcom love interests. (The show deserves real credit here--all of the characters not only feel, but look real, as opposed to unrealistically model-like). As Alan Sepinwall notes on his blog, Williams has seemingly gained weight since her days on the dreadful Good Morning Miami, a physical change that has enhanced, not detracted from her beauty. She's not heavy, by any realistic measure, but she is normal-looking.
Where the story goes from here will prove interesting, I suspect--if they are building this show for the long haul (and it seems they are), then these arcs can only be maintained for so long. The triangle will have to dissipate relatively soon, especially since Williams is a guest star and not a regular. Unless they go ahead and make Williams a regular, and build the triangle to be an ongoing, see-sawing conflict within the series. Now there's a move I heartily endorse.