Screen: CBS

How I (Massive Spoiler)ed Your Mother

How Mother-y was the game-changing surprise twist at the end of this otherwise typical episode?

Let's not bury the lede.

The big shocker at the end of tonight's episode, hinted at midway through and speculated about by fans for years, appears to be legit. If we are to believe what the show is telling us, in the year 2024, six years before Future Ted tells his epic tale, Nearer Future Ted and The Mother are back at the Farhampton Inn, sharing stories they've each heard a million times. But at a moment when The Mother, speaking about an incident involving Robin, asks what mother would miss her daughter's wedding, Ted cries, and it becomes pretty clear. The one right in front of him. Ted and The Mother are preparing for her death; she won't be around to see her very young daughter grow up.

It's not a done deal, of course. This could be yet another curveball and feint. It could be that The Mother was diagnosed with a fatal disease that they both believed at one time was going to kill her but she somehow pulls through. It could be that 2030 Future Ted is telling his kids about that time they believed she wasn't gong to make it and somehow she did. She walks in and they have a big family hug and the show goes out on a big happy vibe. (Of course, that doesn't really work. The teens were filmed years ago, long before Cristin Milioti was cast as the mother, and the creators have said they'll use footage they shot from the very beginning to wrap up the series.)

But perhaps the answer is what's right in front of us. We're being prepared for what's going to be an incredibly sad, touching finale in which we realized that for nine (not at all short) seasons, Ted has been eulogizing The Mother to his children. Unfortunately, given that The Mother has quickly become the most likeable, engaging character in the whole ensemble, this comes as as even more crushing blow. Sure, she's a character who doesn't yet have a name. It's possible we won't even find that out until we see it engraved on her tombstone. (Y'all, I just made myself very sad with that thought.) As tough as it sounds, doesn't that seem right somehow, in keeping with the show's themes of impermanence, change, and the fluidity of time and human experience? The Mother tells Ted, before we get this more explicit reveal, that she worries about what Future Ted will be; she says that we only move forward, and she doesn't want him to be that guy who lives in his stories of the past. It sure seems like that happened anyway, but who can blame Ted? She is certainly the best thing that's ever happened to him, and certainly the best thing to happen to this show in several seasons.

As for the rest of the episode: Barney tries to pick the perfect suit for the wedding, having recovered in record time from his horrible hangover. Ted helps him choose, and it ends up being a new suit that hasn't yet experienced, say, rodeo clown sex or sex on top of a Ford Escort (with, possibly, an escort).

The gang watches a sequel to The Wedding Bride written by the husband of Ted's ex Stella, and it's amusing how Robin and Marshall abandon all interest in the wedding to watch hotel pay-per-view, but not so amusing that it serves as more than a small plot point.

Robin's sister shows up, but doesn't have much to do in this episode except be all Canadian. The real family drama comes near the end when Robin's mother, who was not planning to be at the wedding, suddenly shows up. That she's played by Tracey Ullman is a nice surprise, but we don't hear her speak, so there's no telling where Ullman will go with her sure-to-be-over-the-top dialect.

Lily and Marshall don't have much to do but bounce off Robin's disinterest in the wedding (which seems to be a new thing; wasn't she pretty invested in the wedding just last episode?) and the new, annoying "Narshall" character in the Wedding Bride sequel, played by Jon Heder, who is completely overshadowed by Chris Kattan, a sentence I am surprised to be writing, frankly.

It all seems very small compared to the huge reveal that ends the episode and changes everything about the show from front to back. Sure, fans have speculated it as a theory, but now that it's right in front of us, it's quite the game-changer, one that instantly sets the tone for this last handful of episodes.

But how does the mix work overall? How Mother-y were the elements of this week's How I Met Your Mother?

Mother-Y Element Present?
Ted Still Pines For Robin…Or Does He? Not overtly, but he agrees a little too wistfully when Barney says that Robin is going to look incredible walking down the aisle. And Ted is still planning to move to Chicago after the wedding (before he knows he'll meet The Mother), which sounds like ongoing pining to me.
Robin And/Or Barney Shows Signs Of Cold Feet Before The Wedding Not about each other; Barney just has anxiety about picking his suit, and Robin's disaffected attitude about her special day is consistent with her inconsistency about the wedding.
Guest Star From A Past Season Pops Up (Ex-Boyfriend, Old Boss, Ranjit The Cab Driver) Chris Kattan returns as Jed Mosely, the character based on Ted, in The Wedding Bride 2. And Lucy Hale is back as Robin's sister, Katie.
Baby Marvin Does Something Cute And/Or Disruptive Somebody check on that missing baby!
Gay Jokes About Barney’s Brother James Stinson (Wayne Brady)? James is still missing, too.
Ted Moves A Tiny Step Closer To Meeting The Mother (Cristin Milioti) No, but we got a big step closer to cracking this whole mystery, it seems.
Humor Involving Wacky Relatives Doing Wacky Relative Stuff At A Wedding Robin's grandmother tells her a touching story about wildflowers before Robin shoos her out the door because she's heard it before. Oh, old people and their sentimental memories!
Ted Is An Insufferable, Pretentious Prick About, Architecture, Wedding Etiquette, English Literature, Or Any Other Pedantic Bullshit It's hard to call Ted out on anything after this episode, but we'll try: he's the only one worried about Lily spilling red wine on the wedding dress she's wearing to make Robin upset.
Public Transportation High Jinks None.
Flashback to Ted, Lily, And Marshall In College We revisit the time in college when Ted and Marshall were stuck in Marshall's Fiero during a snowstorm, which has become fodder for the Chris Kattan movie.
Pop Song Montage Or Episode Outro "If You See Her, Say Hello," plays us out just as we are realizing what might happen to The Mother. Shut up, I'm not crying, YOU ARE!
Barney Says Something Inappropriately Dirty About A Hot Woman Because, Come On, Barney Barney describes several sex acts he engaged in while looking at various suits he's considering for the wedding. One involved a female rodeo clown.
"Legend…ary!", "Wait For It…," Or Any Pun On The Word "Bro" No, surprisingly.
Retro Video, Instructional Tape, Book, Or Other Multimedia Project Starring Or Created By One Of The Main Characters (Robin Sparkles, Barney As A Fake Astronaut, Etc.) Lily creates a cloying wedding scrapbook for Robin.
Slap Bet Just a hard slap to the soul. Why do you this to us, show?!
Unanticipated Wedding Hookup How can you even think about sex at a time like this!? You make me sick!
8 /16
50 percent in pre-mourning for the inevitable crush of Mother-y sadness.
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