After the death of Marshall's father at the end of the previous episode of "How I Met Your Mother," I was wondering if the show would be able to make this week's episode, "Last Words," funny without it feeling totally insensitive, or if -- going in the other direction -- it would be too emotional and not funny enough for a sitcom. When I saw the promos for the episode, I was definitely worried about the former, but as it turns out, "Last Words" had a nice balance between being funny and sentimental.
The episode, centered around the funeral for Marshall's father and what may or may not have been the last words his father ever said to Marshall, was at its funniest when it let the humor flow naturally, rather than trying to force it. The stories with Lily "helping" by angering Marshall's mom, and Ted and Barney trying to get Marshall to laugh, weren't particularly great. The little moments in the back half of the episode were much better.
The episode came to a head when Marshall finally made the choice to listen to the voicemail his dad had left him before dying, and at first it turned out to be a pocket dial. As the scene went on, it became very obvious where it was going, but it was still touching when it happened. Jason Segel really sold the whole thing well, in what was probably his strongest moment in the show's six-year run.
Lastly, I'd be remiss as a "Buffy" fan if I didn't mention the on-screen reunion between Willow (Alyson Hannigan) and Jonathan (Danny Strong). Strong played the son of the reverend who was supposed to preside over the funeral, a son who'd also been a bully to Marshall when the two of them were in high school. The idea of the 5-foot-2 Strong bullying the 6-foot-4 Segel was hilarious, but the storyline disappointingly didn't really go anywhere. Still, it's yet another Whedon-verse reunion from a show that's given us plenty of them throughout the years.
For more coverage of the 2010-11 television season, visit the AdamReisinger.com TV Reviews home page.