In my ongoing "HIMYM vs. Sitcom" analysis of this season, I'd say "Spoiler Alert" fell somewhere in the middle. The notion of the shattered illusions and the revisited flashbacks were very much a "HIMYM" device, but the scene at the end where Marshall stops all the fighting with his big announcement felt like someone on the writing staff had just watched "The One With the Embryos" episode of "Friends." I'm not saying "Friends" invented that conceit or that no other comedy should get to use it, but it was a very traditional sitcom kind of moment.
While the various revelations were funny, particularly all the descriptions of Lily's chewing ("It sounds like cufflinks going up a vacuum cleaner!") and Ted being an annoying corrector (which led to the great Barney and Marshall exchange of "Don't they teach vocabulary in Canada?" "They literally don't!"), I have some logic questions about the shattered illusion concept. As originally introduced, the reason for the illusions was a desire to sleep with someone -- "You're driving the I Want to Have Sex With Her Bus, and it's got a huge blind spot." -- but then it expanded, so that Robin never noticed Lily's chewing, and the guys never noticed Ted's correcting, etc. Usually, when the show introduces an idea like this or Lemon Law or the Crazy/Hot scale, there are some very specific rules laid out about it, which only makes the applications funnier. If they'd mentioned some kind of best friend corollary from the start -- especially with some convoluted but understandable logic of its own -- I wouldn't have spent so much of the episode's second half wondering if Robin's dream kiss with Vacation Robin didn't hint at something deeper, whether Marshall wanted more than bromance with Ted, etc. Not a huge problem, but not up to top standards.
Couple of other thoughts:
- While Ted was annoying with the correcting, at the same time I could relate to his hatred of the pandemic misuse of "literally," which drives me nuts almost as much as the bastardization of "push the edge of the envelope" (which suggests trying to expand the boundaries of something) to "push the envelope" (which suggests sliding an envelope around a table). Hi, my name is Alan, and I'm sometimes a grammar nerd. Anybody have their own linguistic pet peeve?
- Marshall singing his daily routine -- "The Salvation Army does not fight fair.." -- was awesome.
- In the three years later flashforward, Ted was not wearing a ring. Sloppiness, or a suggestion that the writers don't intend for Ted to get married until near the end of the series? (This, of course, assumes that the series will be around for three-plus more years.)
- I have no comment on this, but it's too funny not to reproduce: "Why do you think I call her Chewbacca?" "I assume it's because she's loyal, wears shiny belts and I resemble a young Harrison Ford."