Screen: CBS

The Mother Of All How I Met Your Mothers

How Mother-y was a flipped-script episode focusing on Ted's future bride?

This is what I thought (or at least secretly hoped) Season Nine would be like the whole way through.

By now it's exhausting to harp on what a slow slog this weekend-as-a-season concept has been, but based on the inventiveness creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas showed at one time, you hoped that a last season with an end date in sight would give them a chance to go back and loop through all the past seasons, tie up tons of loose ends, and weave a satisfying story through the past, present, and future of its characters. That didn't really happen, at least not to the degree that the first half of Season Nine didn't feel like a lot of wheel-spinning and wasted time.

The script flip that happens in this week's episode, showing the events leading up to the Farhampton Inn wedding weekend from the point of view of The Mother (even the opening song is changed to include images of her and her friends; it's cute), has been a long time in coming. Too long, maybe, because this episode is lovely to behold even as it gallops past years where there was probably a lot more story to mine. It's so packed with references to past seasons that it creates the illusion of satisfaction; it may not be until later that you realize that a lot of this should have arrived sooner and across more episodes, rather than packing it all into one show that veered between hyper and sentimental.

That being said…it was kind of wonderful, largely because Cristin Milioti is finally allowed to deliver the goods that have only been hinted at all season. She sings (twice!), she has her heart broken (twice, one of those times of her own choosing), she cracks some pretty good jokes with fine comedic timing, she handles The Naked Man with aplomb (his balls, she notes, are on her couch). She knocks the ball out of the park so high and so far you don't even notice or care that the show's main characters are pushed far into the background. You begin to feel like maybe the idea of a spinoff series from Bays and Thomas with all new characters isn't so crazy after all. Maybe it's not the show that's so tired; maybe it's characters like Ted and Robin and Barney we've lost affection for.

In short, The Mother is revealed to be a nerdy lady with much more in common with Ted than we could have ever imagined. She collects coins, has a calligraphy set, and laughs at a lame Ted joke when she accidentally ends up in a class he's teaching (it turns out he's in the wrong place). She has near misses at nightclubs and even in her own apartment, meeting Ted after her roommate breaks up with him. She lost a boyfriend in 2005, a guy who seemed like the perfect guy and died (we don't find out how, but he left behind a birthday gift of a ukulele). For years she resisted dating because she felt she already found and lost the love of her life. Years later, she dated a guy named Louis (Lou Ferrigno Jr., I kid you not) who seemed very nice, but not nice enough for her to marry. She breaks up with him when he asks her to marry him the very night before Robin and Barney's wedding. She flees to Farhampton Inn and ends up in a room right next to Ted. He hears her sing and has probably just fallen in love without even realizing it. And then there's that yellow umbrella that changes hands from The Mother to Ted and back to her.

Most all of it ties in nicely with the past of the show and merges competently with the current storylines. But you kinda wish it had gotten to this point sooner. Milioti carries the episode fearlessly and you just want to see as much of her as possible before this is all over. Let's hope that's exactly what we'll be seeing from here on out.

But how did a reversal of roles stack up to the Ted-told past? 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 in this one.
Robin And/Or Barney Shows Signs Of Cold Feet Before The Wedding Barney gets up and leaves the room he's sharing with Ted late at night, which might be a sign of trouble ahead, but we don't see the trouble in this episode.
Guest Star From A Past Season Pops Up (Ex-Boyfriend, Old Boss, Ranjit The Cab Driver) Loads of them! Rachel Bilson returns as The Mother's roommate, Roger Bart is The Farhampton Inn desk clerk, "The Naked Man" Mitch (Adam Paul) from Season Four returns as an old friend of The Mother. And that's not even counting Andrew Rannells from earlier this season, who returns as the evil Darren.
Baby Marvin Does Something Cute And/Or Disruptive Baby sleep, night night.
Gay Jokes About Barney’s Brother James Stinson (Wayne Brady)? James was not around this week.
Ted Moves A Tiny Step Closer To Meeting The Mother (Cristin Milioti) Several giant near misses from over the years are shown, but the big moment is when Ted sits on a Farhampton Inn balcony and hears The Mother play ukulele and sing "La Vie en Rose" from Room 6 next door.
Humor Involving Wacky Relatives Doing Wacky Relative Stuff At A Wedding None, as we didn't spend a lot of time at the wedding itself.
Ted Is An Insufferable, Pretentious Prick About, Architecture, Wedding Etiquette, English Literature, Or Any Other Pedantic Bullshit Ted is shown teaching the wrong class, and he makes a lame professor joke that we've heard before (Ted used the "Shellfish" joke on a date once).
Public Transportation High Jinks The Mother's friend Kelly rushes across town in a cab when she realizes she went to the wrong MacLaren's.
Flashback To Ted, Lily, And Marshall In College None to be found.
Pop Song Montage Or Episode Outro In addition to The Mother's lovely ukulele song, we heard a muffin-themed version of "One Singular Sensation," and "Skinny Legs and All" by Joe Tex played during Kelly's cab ride.
Barney Says Something Inappropriately Dirty About A Hot Woman Because, Come On, Barney Barney hits on Kelly at a St. Patrick's Day party, saying he will "sham-rock" her world. She declines.
"Legend…ary!", "Wait For It…," Or Any Pun On The Word "Bro" Barney drops a "Haaaaave you met Ted?" at MacLaren's.
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.) It would be tempting to count the muffin song, but it would be a stretch (and might get us into a jam…HA!).
Slap Bet No Slap Bet fallout this week.
Unanticipated Wedding Hookup No, just a lot of heartbreak.
7 / 16
44 percent breaking the mold by making a better mold Mother.
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