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.
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?