Screen: CBS

How Your Mother Beat The Devil, Who Was Very Charming, By The Way

How Mother-y was an episode with a strong guest turn and 100 percent more of The Mother?

It could very well be that I'm so tired of these characters after nine seasons that putting two strong guest stars (all right, fine, one guest star and one new series regular who's been mostly M.I.A. this season) on in the same week is enough to tip the balance of an episode to the win column.

The first guest star was Andrew Rannells of Book of Mormon and The New Normal fame, who injected some great energy into the episode as a devilish singer who likes to screw up the relationships of people he just charmed. (Nice touch: he bases his fake tragic backstory on the death of Disney parental characters, including Nemo's mom and King Mufasa.) It's not a character that makes any sense, but Rannells sells it so well, and the disruption grenades he lobs, pitting Robin against Lily and Ted against Barney over secrets they've been hiding, are a lot of fun to watch detonate. It doesn't hurt that he exits each devastating bit with a perfectly blasé line, "Later, skaters!" being my favorite.

About those revelations: Lily learns that Robin is on Marshall's side on the whole "judgeship versus moving to Rome" issue, and that Robin thinks Lily's been shifting the attention to herself all wedding weekend. Barney is genuinely hurt to learn that Ted was going to just skip town to Chicago right after the wedding without letting his (not really) best friend know in advance.

In a nice twist to tie things together, it turns out that The Mother knows Darren. In fact, she's in the same band of business-school musicians, and her role in the group keeps getting minimized by this guy from singer to glorified announcer; she calls Darren "The Devil," and has stolen his van but is too nice to really do anything to it. She explains all of this to Marshall, who gives her a pep talk about standing up for herself. She never has to, unfortunately. By the time she gets up the nerve to say something, Darren has accidentally broken a third bottle of very expensive scotch and gets punched by Ted. That seems a bit excessive just for breaking a bottle, but we have to assume the gang has already figured out that Darren has been pitting them all against each other. Otherwise, Ted must be drunk and crazy. Darren, sporting the world's least convincing pre-shiner, quits the band. Pleased, The Mother sends a double of very nice scotch to the best man, Ted, whom she has yet to meet. Like Rannells, Cristin Milioti funnels some much-needed new energy into each of her scenes. She's fun to watch; let's hope she doesn't disappear again.

And wrapping up (we hope) one of this story's more pointless storylines, Marshall finally gets to Farhampton. Rather than fight, Lily and Marshall do a callback to early in the show's history and put their argument on pause so they can embrace.

Not too bad, show! But 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? It comes up again when Barney finds out that Ted is moving to Chicago the day after the wedding. At least Ted doesn't go on and on about it, but Barney can tell by Ted's face that Robin is the reason he's leaving.
Robin And/Or Barney Shows Signs Of Cold Feet Before The Wedding Nope; each of them was too busy having it out with Lily and Ted, respectively.
Guest Star From A Past Season Pops Up (Ex-Boyfriend, Old Boss, Ranjit The Cab Driver) Not so much this week, unless you count The Mother as a past-season guest star (she only appeared once at the end of last year, and is considered a series regular this season).
Baby Marvin Does Something Cute And/Or Disruptive) After being roughly jostled in his Baby Björn while Marshall ran toward Farhampton Inn, Marvin utters his first words in the van that The Mother stole: "Skunk junk." Now that's cute.
Gay Jokes About Barney’s Brother James Stinson (Wayne Brady)? No new James material this week, just a glimpse of him in flashback from a previous episode.
Ted Moves A Tiny Step Closer To Meeting The Mother Yes! Finally! The Mother picks up Marshall and Marvin and makes it to Farhampton Inn. She doesn't meet Ted, but she does buy him a drink, sight unseen, after he punches Darren.
Humor Involving Wacky Relatives Doing Wacky Relative Stuff At A Wedding Darren turns out not to be one of Robin's Canadian relatives, so, no.
Ted Is An Insufferable, Pretentious Prick About, Architecture, Wedding Etiquette, English Literature, Or Any Other Pedantic Bullshit Ted doesn't come right out and say it, but you just know that if he knew the scotch The Mother bought him was only 10-year Glen McKenna, he would have spit it out in disgust.
Public Transportation High Jinks The bus breaking down is what prompts Marshall to hike it to Farhampton and meet The Mother along the way.
Flashback To Ted, Lily, And Marshall In College None.
Pop Song Montage Or Episode Outro Marshall runs to a new version of "Marshall Versus of the Machines" and the episode ends with Forest Whitaker's "Bad Books."
Barney Says Something Inappropriately Dirty About A Hot Woman Because, Come On, Barney Barney's been pretty chaste lately. No dirty talk this week.
"Legend…ary!", "Wait For It…," Or Any Pun On The Word "Bro" Barney calls going to jail for a bro, "Bro-ble, the most noble thing a bro can do for a fellow bro." He also gets a lot of mileage out of the catchphrase "That's the dream."
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.) No, because we're not counting Lily's creation the Marshpillow.
Slap Bet The episode's tag concludes with Marshall winding up to deliver the fourth slap as Barney cowers and we get a "to be continued..." YES! YES! YES!
Unanticipated Wedding Hookup Not unless you count the perverse joy Darren gets from fucking with everybody's feelings.
8 / 16
50 percent perfectly serviceable, eat-late-at-night, pre-Christmas fruitcake Mother.
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