Greetings, mother lovers! The 200th episode of our beloved show has just passed, and I couldn’t be happier with it. FINALLY the writers delivered the heartfelt, thoughtful, and charming story that we have been missing so much throughout this season.
The episode opened with a special Mother themed intro, complete with pics of her and her friends. Apparently they hang out at the MacLaren’s on the East Side, whereas Ted et al hang out at the West Side MacLaren’s. Who knew there were two? We begin the show on the same night as the pilot episode, back in September of 2005. It’s The Mother’s 21st birthday, and she’s excited to see what amazing gift her boyfriend will deliver this year.
But then, the phone call. She thinks it’s him, and she chatters as she leaves the bar. Her face drops, and she responds to the caller “Yes, this is she”. We all know what that type of call means. Her beloved Max has died and she is heartbroken. He was her “The One” and now he’s gone. Needless to say, the episode had me in tears real quick.
Before we move on, it’s important to note that The Mother’s age means that the Milk theory is officially disproved. The theory posits that The Mother is the same missed date that the matchmaker found for Ted in the season one episode “Milk”. This date is said to be the same age as Ted, but The Mother is nearly six years younger than Ted. So the Milk theory is out the window!
Next up is St. Patrick’s Day 2008, when Ted and The Mother were at the same club at the same time. Before we move forward we need to talk about when that holiday actually happened. St. Patrick’s Day is traditionally on March 17th of each year, but in 2008 it was a little different. The date conflicted with the Catholic Holy Week, so things were shifted around. Some aspects were celebrated on March 15th, some on March 17th, and some on April 2nd. I believe the March celebrations were the religious ceremonies, and the April date was the fun St. Patrick’s Day when people partied. Apparently this happened once before, in 1940. This all explains why the scene is titled as “April 2008” even though the holiday should have occurred in March.
Back to the club…The Mother’s best friend urges her to get out and dance, but The Mother resists. Her friend says “The love of your life could be on that dance floor, waiting for you to bump into him. If you’re not there he’s going to bump into someone else”. The Mother doubts that, but then we see the infamous (among fans) “bump girl” scene, where Ted does indeed bump into someone else. Note that this scene disproves the bump girl theory from the season three episode “No Tomorrow”.
The Mother bumps into someone else as well: Mitch, the Naked Man! She knows him as Mitch, her instructor from orchestra camp. (“This one time, at band camp…”) When he mentions his non-profit orchestra school, The Mother immediately insists that he take her cello as a donation. They go to her apartment to complete this innocent transaction…
Too bad Mitch doesn’t realize it’s supposed to be innocent. He goes for the total opposite and does his signature move, The Naked Man. It’s reputed to work 2 out of 3 times. The Mother is horrified, though, and she proves to be the one woman out of three that does not respond to his panache. So far the count for TNM is as follows:
- Mitch successfully uses the move on two different women: 2 out of 2
- Mitch tries the move on The Mother and it does not work: 2 out of 3
- Mitch remains in naked man mode when The Mother’s roommate/best friend comes in. Score: 3 out of 4!
- Mitch tries the move on Robin and it works: 4 out of 5
Four out of five is an even better average than two out of three! Meanwhile, back at the club, Barney hits on The Mother’s best friend by saying “Girl, I will shamrock your world”. It’s pretty much the best, but the scene was a little bittersweet because you can see how Neil Patrick Harris has aged since the original “No Tomorrow” episode. Nonetheless it was the perfect touch of a connection between the two groups of friends. Later the touch gets even more personal when we discover that the friend fell for Barney’s “my penis grants wishes” Playbook play.
Anyway, Mitch inspires The Mother to realize her dream, which is to end poverty. She decides to attend business school in pursuit of this goal. Before that, though, she returns to the club in pursuit of her lost umbrella. She couldn’t find it, because “by the next day some super inconsiderate person had taken my umbrella”.
The scene cuts to The Mother and Cindy, and we see that she has told this entire story to Cindy in response to the question “how did you get here”? Cindy was just asking for directions, but by this point they have already bonded. The Mother discovers that Cindy needs a place to stay, and invites her to move in. Cindy agrees, so long as there are no naked men in the living room. The Mother explains that she’s on a permanent hiatus from dating.
“I believe that each of us only gets one, and I got mine already”.
This quote is a lovely contrast to Ted’s perspective on finding The One. He thinks that he may have been to too many “lighthouses”, and missed his chance at The One, so he has little hope for love in his future. The Mother thinks she has already found and lost The One, so there’s no hope for love in her future. Little do they realize that their perfect match is oh so close. Of course Ted told his dorky dad shellfish joke to the class, and (wonder upon wonders!) The Mother laughed at it. She was basically the only one. I love how they included this moment to show us how they’re such a great match in so many little ways. This was one of those random deal breaker things that was important to Ted, so she has to laugh in order for us to feel that she is the right one for him. And she did :)
Next we see the breakup scene between Ted and Cindy again. After he leaves her place (and leaves the umbrella), The Mother and Cindy have a heart to heart. Cindy explains that Ted liked all of The Mother’s stuff, and The Mother scoffs at the idea. She says that he should have seen her calligraphy set, coin collection, and chainmail corset from the Renaissance faire. Yep, you guessed it, she pronounces “Renaissance” just like Ted does! Of course we can’t forget that Ted also loves calligraphy and coins. Looks like he has a date to next year’s Coin Con after all!
Now we jump ahead to after Cindy has met her future wife and moved out. The Mother places an ad seeking a roommate, but is contacted by the evil Darren. He seems normal at this point, so she invites him to sing with the band some time. Little does she know that this opens the door for Darren to overtake her band. By April of 2012 he has assumed ownership and is treating The Mother like crap. We see her hauling her bass and amp to the van after a show.
This scene immediately made me think of Robin. She is a pretty skilled roadie herself, after her time dating Simon of The Foreskins. I liked seeing how both Robin and The Mother were doing the same task for basically the same reason: a self involved jerk took advantage. This is the moment when The Mother meets her last boyfriend before Ted – a finance guy named Louis. I was so focused on the parallel to Robin’s life that I half expected Louis to tell The Mother that he just bought a jacuzz with Louise Marsh!
Louis asks The Mother out for a drink, and they end up at the West Side MacLaren’s. Louis mentions that the last time he was here he thought the place was named Puzzles. We didn’t know that Louis was at Puzzles, but there’s another connection for you. The Mother questions why a bar would be named Puzzles, and then realizes that’s the puzzle. She totally gets how awesome it is! Hooray! Next Louis asks her to dinner, but The Mother is hesitant.
She explains that “I was in love with somebody a long time ago, and he died”. Then she elaborates with a lottery ticket analogy. She explains that she won the lotto the first time she bought a ticket, and she can’t imagine ever winning again. Louis understands but gives her his card. She ends up going to dinner with him, and they become a couple.
This is titled as set in April of 2012, but then Narrator Ted says they dated and “for a couple years it was fine”. This doesn’t make sense, because The Mother meets Ted just one year later. I think that was just a small error but with these writers who knows. They could have more confusing tricks up their sleeve but I don’t think this is one of them. We see The Mother making her English muffin sing a show tune, and Louis responds with a brief laugh. He is clearly not that impressed, and we can see on The Mother’s face that she knows he isn’t the one. As Narrator Ted says, “It just wasn’t love”.
Now we’re caught up to present day in the world of HIMYM, which at this point is May 2013. The Mother is staying at Louis’ beach house for the wedding weekend. and she is taking cookies out of the oven when she gets an email. It’s the “Bass Player Wanted” ad, and she is pissed. We see a recap of her talking to Lily, picking up Marshall and Marvin, seeing Darren get punched out, and buying Ted a drink. It’s a happy scene, because we see how they are just thisclose to meeting but not quite there yet.
When The Mother returns to the beach house, Louis is waiting. With an engagement ring. Don’t get your hopes up about learning her name, though, because it still isn’t happening. How many engagements is this chick gonna have before someone says her damn name?! She kind of panics, and says she needs to talk to someone first.
Here comes yet another emotional scene in this episode. The Mother holds on to the porch post and talks to Max, who she believes is in heaven, playing baseball with his dad. Cristin perfectly delivers this tender and touching monologue. She tells Max “I think that I have been holding myself back from falling in love again, and I think it’s because I can’t let you go. But you’re not here anymore so I have to ask this – would it be okay if I moved on”?
A sudden gust of wind blows across The Mother, and she takes that as a yes from Max. She is no longer broken, but she’s not totally healed. I saw her as a beautiful doll that has been shattered into pieces and then carefully glued back together again. She’s whole, but fragile and damaged. When she returns to Louis, she declines his proposal. We can all feel in our hearts that this is the right choice. The love simply isn’t there.
It’s also very obvious that The Mother was protecting herself from love by dating Louis. He was a way for her to remain unavailable, and a way for her to avoid dealing with any emotional issues. He could never and would never capture her heart, and so she knew that she was safe (albeit sheltered) by being with him. That type of relationship – the safe kind that isn’t really right, but isn’t quite wrong – is SO hard to leave. Seeing The Mother crying as she walked out the door really tugged at my heart. Again, she played the scene beautifully, and with a very subtle hand.
The Mother needs a place to stay, so she heads to the Farhampton Inn. Curtis at the front desk notes that they have one open room – the one that was reserved for Robin’s mother, who didn’t show up. The Mother spills about the breakup, and Curtis hands her the key, saying “I think room six is the room for you”. It just so happens to be the room right next door to Ted’s, and you know Curtis couldn’t be happier. I seriously think this is the best thing that has happened to Curtis in years. He was SO STRESSED about single Ted and now he gets to save the day.
Here’s where I basically just lost it emotionally…The Mother takes out her ukulele and sits out on the balcony. She plucks at the banjo and performs a wistful, pained, but ultimately hopeful version of La Vie En Rose. Ted sits on the other side of the balcony, enjoying the song and wondering about the singer. Narrator Ted tells us that he has heard her sing this song so many times – particularly when she was tucking the kids into bed – but this time was his favorite.
With that, we wrap up this amazingly brief yet detailed episode of Ted and The Mother close encounters. The last moments show us each of the characters in these late night moments before the wedding. Marshall is crying because Lily has left. Lily is a wreck, riding away in the back of a car. Robin seems pensive, and Barney is cuddling his bottle of scotch. Ted returns to the room, telling Barney about the beautiful singing he just heard. But Barney has disappeared from his bed…
This obviously paves the way for more plot in episodes to come, and I think it makes sense given the story trajectory. It will be interesting to see if Barney left for a good reason (joining Robin in bed, just like how Lily and Marshall can’t sleep apart?), a bad reason (panic and cold feet?), or a stupid reason (some pointless sleepwalking schtick or dream sequence crap).
Now that we’ve seen so much of the past, I’m ready to see those big moments from Ted and The Mother’s future together. I can’t wait to see them get married, have Penny and Luke, and settle into everyday life with each other. Ross from Ted-Mosby.com texted me after the show and it said it could pretty much end right here and people would be satisfied. I completely agree, with the exception of this Barney out of bed business. But in terms of Ted and The Mother, this episode came through with classic HIMYM quality.
The nuances of Ted’s happily ever after are so much more complicated than we first thought, and that’s a good thing. There are so many slapstick moments in this show, but at heart it has situations and emotions that are real. Giving Ted and The Mother a complicated story, instead of simple and traditional one, is the perfect way to close out this near decade long adventure.