Tuesday, January 28, 2014

How I Met Your Mother: "How Your Mother Met Me."

Quick Review: One of the most hauntingly beautiful episodes of the entire series.

Episode Synopsis: Recalling what has been going with Ted's future wife over the past eight years before Robin and Barney's wedding weekend. -tvguide

Spoiler Alert. No, seriously, I mean it this time. If there is one episode of the entire series you want to watch unspoiled, this is it. I mean, you can pretty much figure out what it's going to cover by the episode title, but trust me, you have no idea what's to come. There could be a bear juggling chainsaws, and rather than be surprised by the surprise appearance of said bear, you'd know it was coming and it would ruin the surprise. That was just an example, there is no bear juggling chainsaws in this episode. It's way more awesome than that, and if you've ever seen a bear juggle chainsaws, then you know where the bar is. So yeah, please watch the episode first.

Full Review: This. This episode is why I love this show. It's why I feel that the nine years it's taken to tell this "love story in reverse" will ultimately be worth it. Yes, we've had some ups and downs, this show and I. The last few seasons have not been kind to us longtime fans, but there's no need to rehash any of that. This final season has been better, as we've finally gotten some long-awaited payoff. The best part of the season, of course, is finally getting to know The Mother.

We always knew she was coming, that was the entire point, but for eight years we all had the same question: is she worth the wait? This season the answer is a resounding yes. Her presence during this ninth and final season has breathed new life into the show, especially with her meeting everyone else before she meets Ted. We also have gotten some great flashforwards in which we get to see her and Ted together, and they are fantastic together.

We've gotten to know her a little bit through Ted's narration and watching her interact with everyone else. However, we really didn't know anything about her outside of those small snippets. Tonight's incredible episode answers a lot of those questions and, to borrow from the late Paul Harvey, tells us the "rest of the story."

The episode begins with a twist on the opening montage. Rather than see pictures of Ted and the gang living it up, we see glimpses of The Mother's life, the usual text replaced with the episode title "How Your Mother Met Me." This tells us right away that we're about to see this story from the other side of the lucky penny. We've spent eight years watching how Ted found his way to Farhampton. Now we get to see how The Mother got there.

The show has always been about destiny, about how Ted and The Mother were always destined to meet. It's appropriate then, that the events that bring them both together start on the same night, the night Ted met Robin back in 2005. That night, The Mother was at the other MacLaren's pub, celebrating her 21st birthday. We think we're going to see another set of wacky antics like Ted's. But while Ted is stealing a blue French horn, she finds out that Max, the love of her life, has died.

While this in an incredible episode, full of incredible callbacks for us longtime fans, it isn't a hilarious romp. This isn't going to end with an elaborately choreographed gleeful musical number. Instead, we're going to learn about The Mother's heartbreak, loss, and eight-year long effort to find love again. There's going to be just as much laughter as tears as we watch her journey.

This is when The Mother truly becomes real for everyone. We got to see that she isn't just some one-dimensional Mary-Sue character a few episodes back in Bass Player Wanted. Here, we see all of her dimensions and we understand that she, like Ted, has her share of scars. Her quirky exterior is a clever cover for the pain she's spent nearly a decade trying, and failing, to move past. And that's what makes this love story beautiful.

For years, Ted has built up this woman as being so incredible that it was almost impossible to imagine anyone living up to those expectations. How perfect was this woman going to be? Now we know, she's not perfect, she's just as scared and hurt and lonely as Ted. Now we know that when she and Ted meet, it's not going to be an imperfect Ted improbably marrying a woman too good for him. Instead, it's going to be two wounded people who help each other heal.

This is the episode when we learn that not only is this woman perfect for Ted, he's perfect for her. They fit together so well that the rest of their lives is a foregone conclusion. I was always sold on The Mother as a character, quite frankly from the moment she bought a ticket to Farhampton. This season has made me love her even more. Now, if I wasn't already sold on why she and Ted belong together, I am totally on board. In fact, I kind of want this more for her than for Ted.

The final sequence of the episode is one of the most beautiful things the show has ever done. Before this episode, had we seen The Mother strumming her ukelele on the balcony of her room, we would have just assumed this was another lovely quirk that Ted fell in love with. Now, as she's singing 'Le Vie en Rose' using the ukelele that Max gave her right before he died, we understand what's really going on. This is a woman trying to let go of the past, trying to move on after thinking she met and lost her only shot at love. She's finally allowing herself to believe in the possibility of love. Ted listening mere feet away made the moment perfect.

Because unlike Ted, who keeps falling in love again and again, The Mother has never felt able to love anyone since her boyfriend died. Even her current boyfriend Louis, the one who proposes to her, isn't someone she loves. She's with him because she's going through the motions of a relationship, trying to find some semblance of a normal life again. However, Louis' proposal is when it becomes clear to her that she needs more.

Before she gives her answer, she goes outside to have a talk with Max. Looking up to heaven, she wants to know whether it's all right for her to move on, to find love again. When she gets the sign that yes, it's all right, one would think that this means she'll accept the proposal. But instead, being open to love means turning Louis down. She doesn't love him, and if she's going to be open to loving someone again, she needs to be with the right guy. He isn't the right guy.

Ted, as we learn, is the right guy. And this episode shows that he's been the right guy for quite some time. The Mother and Ted have been intertwined for a long time, and we revisit some of the show's more iconic moments from her perspective. I love finally getting to know what she was up to at the St. Patrick's Day party, and more importantly, why she left without her yellow umbrella. I love how we also get a reference to the "bump girl" theory that tore up the internet for 5 years.

In another brilliant callback, we see her meet Mitch, "The Naked Man," just as he's figuring out the 2 out of 3 times rule. She knows him from Orchestra Camp, and after she turns down his offer, they have a nice heart-to-heart, which is a bit awkward when he's still naked. Little do we know that Ted has Mitch to thank for steering The Mother his way. He's the one who helps her figure out where she wants to go in life. She wants to end poverty, and to do that, she'll need to major in economics. And that brings her to college. 

Next we get to see her perspective of Ted's first disastrous day of teaching. We get to see her meet Cindy and see Ted for the first time. And, unlike everyone else in the crowd, she laughs at Ted's horrible "shellfish" pun. That made me like her even more, probably because I make horrible puns and I appreciate those who don't want to kill me for making them. In an adorable twist, she bolts from the classroom, thinking she's in the wrong place, only to figure out she was right as Ted, carrying his Empire State Building poster, runs past her.

Ted came closest to meeting her during the 100th episode, in which he dated Cindy, her roommate. It was odd watching that scene of Ted leaving The Mother's apartment without the usual narration, but we finally get to see what happened that night after he left. I always wondered how The Mother reacted to getting that umbrella back. I especially loved her scene with Cindy, in which she not only found out that Ted was into her, but also where we find out she and Ted pronounce "Renaissance" the same way. And then she finds out Ted isn't the only person into her. (Which would explain the real root of Cindy's "roommate complex.")

Since we spent so much time revisiting the events of the 100th, I love how we finally got to see some of her quirks that Cindy complained about. We got to see a "robots playing sports" watercolor and see The Mother make breakast food sing. (And the fact that her boyfriend, Louis is underwhelmed by the performance just proves that he is not the right guy for her.) I've been waiting 100 episodes to see that, and I am not disappointed. I still want to see her rendition of "Memories," and I suspect we might get that in the final episode.

So let's talk about the singing. Cristin Milioti is best known for her role in the musical 'Once,' and this episode finally allows her to showcase her amazing voice. Not only do we get the biscuit serenade, but we get that incredibly moving rendition of 'Le Vie en Rose." It's not only a beautiful song, but also moving because now we know why she sings it.

In addition to her singing, I have to comment on the music we hear throughout The Mother's emotional journey. If you're wondering when you've heard that music before, it's from the best episode of season 8, The Time Travelers.The last time we heard this music, we saw a lonely Ted contemplating his life, and we learned that if Ted had a chance to do it over again, he'd not waste it on Robots v. Wrestlers but instead race to see The Mother because he wants those 45 days. It's a fitting parallel that Ted and The Mother both have those tragic moments that lead them to each other.

There's so much more to talk about in this episode, about all the other awesome connections between The Mother's story and Ted's, including the time she was in our gang's MacLarens. However, I think I need to end this long review by stating that this episode both broke and warmed my heart. It made me understand who The Mother is and why these nine years have been worth it. It's an amazing episode, a true love letter to the fans, and the perfect way to lead into the final eight episodes of the series. We've been waiting a long time for this episode, and it was exactly what we needed, no more, no less.

Next week we'll get back together with our usual gang as the day of The Wedding is finally upon us. Of course, Marshall and Lily are still apart and Barney's now disappeared, so there's that. Plus, The Mother hasn't met Robin yet, and I can't wait to see how that goes.

Episode Breakdown 

Best Gifts You Need: Exact replica of the Pee-Wee's Big Adventure bike and a One Man Band suit.

Best Art Period: Robots doing track and field events.

Best Statistic: "What are the chances that we're both serial killers?"

Best Souvenir: Chain-mail corset from the Renaissance Fair.

Best Economics-Themed Band: Super Freakanomics.

Second Best Economics-Themed Band: Radio Hedge-Fund

Best Name for a Bar: Puzzles (because that's the puzzle)

Best Breakfast Tune: "One, tasty English Muffin."

Best Callback: All of it. Each callback was better than the last.

Best Sagat Narration: "Kids, I must have heard your mom's rendition of 'La Vie en Rose' a million times over the years. Every night when she tucked you in, for instance. But that performance, the first night I ever heard her sing, that one will always be my favorite."


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