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Heather’s 2011 TV Goodness All-Stars: How I Met Your Mother’s Cobie Smulders 

Photo Credit: Eric McCandless/Fox TV

In its seventh season, How I Met Your Mother is often guilty of phoning it in. But when they deliver on an episode, they really deliver, and last week’s “Symphony of Illumination” gave Cobie Smulders a chance to run with an arc and break your heart.

As Robin, the token Canadian and ex-girlfriend of both Ted and Barney, Smulders has gamely done turns as Robin Sparkles, teen music sensation, and Robin Scherbotsky, wannabe journalist schlepping through a wake-up rotation on a local daily news show.

When they had Robin and Barney get together and have a relationship, Smulders and co-star Neil Patrick Harris did some of their best work together. I hated to see them break up. After their split, Barney pined and then moved on. This season, after Barney took a chance with Nora, it was Robin’s turn to pine until she settled into a relationship with Kevin that came out of her losing her sh-t about Barney.

That went the way it usually goes in Sitcom 101 with Barney and Robin having a one-night stand that led both to mull reconciling. Barney quit Nora and Robin didn’t quit Kevin. Fast forward to last week’s episode when we have Robin running the gamut, worrying she’s pregnant by Barney (because she surprisingly had not yet slept with Kevin), thrilled when she’s not, and then devastated when she finds out she will never be. Add to that that she chooses to keep that all to herself until Ted sets the stage for her to finally come clean in a fit of tears and you have a bravura performance.

Smulders completely delivered. The setup to get us there has been a bit wearying because I’m never a fan of the ships passing in the night brand of romance. In the goosebumps moment when the framing device of Robin speaking to children that never existed faded into the park where she sat alone awash in misery and nog, Smulders played it quiet and soft and note-perfect. It made me realize how much she’s not used to her abilities. She’s a very gifted comedienne, but she can also do the heavier arcs.

I look back at the early seasons when she was front and center as the presumed mother and see that now that we know she’s not, she’s not used as wisely as she was. I hope from this point on they’ll get back to the story arc they keep telling us Robin will have had and let Smulders shine. Enough with disappointed, pining Robin. No pun intended, but I want Smulders and Robin to get their sparkle back.

She’s one of my 2011 All-Stars because she reminded me what we’re missing.

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