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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

How I Met Your Mother 9x16: How Your Mother Met Me


Honestly, I think the biggest issue with this episode was that there wasn't more of it. The concept (to show what the Mother was up to during the years we've been following Ted, showing the moments their lives almost intersected from her perspective) is a clever one and, frankly, a necessary one, but I want more, not necessarily from this episode, but from the series as a whole. The episode did a decent job of giving the Mother a character arc, one that carried through the eight years it spanned, grounding things so it wasn't just twenty-odd minutes of clip show paced "then this happened, then this happened, then this happened". That said, it did feel like that at times, simply because there's only so much room to work with in one episode, and that's where giving the Mother more screen time to cover this ground in other episodes could have alleviated the problem.  

Nevertheless, this episode was a highlight of the season, one which not only provided some fun fan service but helped develop the Mother as a character independent of Ted even while it illustrated, far better than the somewhat hacky "she likes crossword puzzles just like Ted!" bits, why these two belong together: the Mother, just like Ted, is a hopeless romantic who believes in forces outside our control, who believes, like Ted, that she's had (and lost) her "one", who is, just hours away from meeting Ted, at almost as low a point as he is. We now have a sense of who she is, but it's a shame we didn't learn more, sooner.

Other Thoughts
The Mother even gets her own title card and opening credits, all of which added to the feeling that I wouldn't mind a few more episodes (or maybe even a season) featuring the Mother and the adventures of her gang. Another way this could have worked, short of handing over the series to the Mother for awhile, would have been to intersperse more of the Mother's past via flashbacks into earlier episodes from this season - pairing a present day wedding story with a thematically-appropriate story from the Mother's past/

The title of the episode is a bit of a misnomer, as we never actually see the Mother meet Ted. On the one hand, that's irritating (it's right there in the title!), on the other hand, it's appreciated, as actually seeing the titular meeting from the Mother's perspective (but not Ted's, not until the finale, so help us!) would have elevated that specific moment even moreso than it already has been (by being placed above such moments in Ted's life as "when he proposed to the Mother" and "the birth of his son").

Honestly, little things like the Mother laughing at Ted's "shelfish" joke and getting why a bar would be named Puzzles do a lot more to sell the idea that they belong together than the more obvious and pandering stuff like them both having calligraphy sets or pronouncing "renaissance" "correctly" (though that did make me laugh).

Good on the show to get Rachel Bilson back for her part of the story - she's not a huge star, but she does have her own show now, so I could have easily seen the producers being forced to write around her absence in this episode. It worked a lot better having her there.

This episode also explains why we haven't seen more of the Mother hanging around the inn this season, which was a nice touch. And, no surprise, Lily was the one who convinced her to steal the van.

Having Ted discover a missing Barney was an effective way of explaining why he didn't make an effort to meet the Mother after hearing her sing (and, perhaps, why he would be preoccupied enough to forget about her the following day), but at the same time, I really don't want a protracted "Barney has cold feet" arc, especially after the last episode seemed to go out of its way to assure us Barney is at peace with getting married (also, I'm a little surprised Ted didn't try to talk to her through the wall on the balcony, but maybe he figured that would be too creepy even for him).

Apparently, there are two McLaren's. I'm not sure how I feel about the idea that the Mother spent her twenties hanging out at a McLaren's too, but I'm coming down on the side of "a little too pat for its own good".

That the Naked Man was an old friend of the Mother's, on the other hand, I liked. It was nice to see a behind-the-scenes Ted/Mother connection that didn't need to exist (based on previous hints) but did anyway.

All that Mother, and we still don't know her name, which is kinda impressive (all the moreso since avoiding it never seemed awkward/stood out).

The Mother: Is this what dating in New York is going to be like? Even the nice guys turn out to be total creeps?
Naked Man: I have gotten pretty creepy since I got here.

Naked Man: Can I tell you an embarrassing story?
The Mother: Is it this one, taking place right now?

4 comments:

  1. As we discussed, I'm still unsure about the writers' decision to have the mother have a great love who died.

    A) Not that this series hasn't delved into some more serious topics before but it is a bit morbid.

    B) Having her lose the person, go through the grieving process and ultimately decide to move on within a 22-minute episode (yes, I know it spanned 8 years for the character) doesn't seem to do the story justice.

    C) The whole story of the show is about all this stuff happen in Ted's life: ups, downs, happy coincidences, certain failures and it's all culminating with him meeting the mother. The whole idea is that the universe is aligning for this one great event in Ted's life to happen and so he's thankful for everything that enabled it to happen, even the "setbacks". So...it's a good thing this guy died? I mean, if it weren't for him kicking the bucket Ted would still be searching for his great love.

    I understand that in real life people lose people they love and they do move on and come to love others and I'm sure there's a lot of conflicting emotions to be resolved with that. But that's a pretty complex and heavy topic for this show to deal with. Especially in the final half of the final season where the two primary characters involved will have minimal contact with each other.

    Beyond all that it was a pretty good episode. I was amazed at how much of the show's "lore" I had forgotten until they brought it up again. Also, I was figuring the episode would end with the mother picking up Lily from the Inn.

    Oh, and on a final note, I thought we already knew Lily told the mother to steal the van? Or did I just assume that?

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  2. @Dr. Bitz: As we discussed, I'm still unsure about the writers' decision to have the mother have a great love who died.

    As discussed, yeah, I'm not too sure about it either. I think the writers just wanted some easy explanation for why the Mother hadn't found love (Ted, or someone else) yet, but at the same time, there's plenty of less morbid ways to establish that (see: the previous eight seasons of this show).

    I mean, if it weren't for him kicking the bucket Ted would still be searching for his great love.

    Well, based on the logic of the show, if he hadn't died, he'd have gone away in some other manner, because Ted and the Mother are destined to be together.

    Not that it refutes the idea that it's a good thing for Ted that this guy died...

    Oh, and on a final note, I thought we already knew Lily told the mother to steal the van? Or did I just assume that?

    Now that you mention it, I'm not sure. It felt like something we hadn't seen, even while it made sense, and I don't remember the gag that Lily told her to steal it and run over her husband when she ends up stealing it and bringing her husband to the inn, but it's entirely possible I'm just forgetting all that and it was previously established.

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  3. I'd like to have seen more of the Mother all along, as I've said before — introducing her halfway through the run and seeing her story in parallel alongside Ted's would've been great — but I don't think more than one dedicated episode like this is a good idea.

    Loathe as I am to be charitable towards Carter & Bays given how ridiculous it's become that the payoff of this story is still Ted literally meeting the Mother, I'll argue that we got close enough to her meeting Ted for the episode title to work. She did see both him in the flesh and his name on the chalkboard in that oops-wrong-class deal, even if he didn't take notice of her (which is a little hard to believe given that she was the only one to laugh at his joke, something Ted would surely remark upon, and she then got up to go) — on top of which her roommate dated him. At most Ted knows that Cindy's roommate, whoever she is, shares his interests; when Cindy's talking to the Mother about it the Mother can actually picture that archaeology professor Ted Mosby.

    I'm concerned about potential last-minute hijinks or cold feet with Barney, too. Granted, I didn't get much sleep the night before my wedding — Does anyone, really? — and, yes, this is a TV sitcom, but honestly none of them should be in any shape to get through the next day with the drinking and the drama and the diddly-squat shuteye.

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  4. @Blam: Granted, I didn't get much sleep the night before my wedding — Does anyone, really? — and, yes, this is a TV sitcom, but honestly none of them should be in any shape to get through the next day with the drinking and the drama and the diddly-squat shuteye.

    My pre-wedding sleep was cut short when I woke up at 4 AM do find the air mattress I was sleeping on at my parents' house had deflated and I was flat on the floor. So then I switched to the love seat in the room, and slept fitfully the rest of the morning.

    But yeah, realistically, all these people should be zombies tomorrow.

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