There aren’t too many television shows, especially sitcoms, that have managed to hit the illustrious 200-episode mark. Usually, a series has either been canceled or simply wrapped up long before it can get past an 8th season. Tonight, however, How I Met Your Mother joined that group. Over the last nine years there have been some high points for the show and there have definitely been some low points, but overall it’s remarkable to see how it’s managed to stay fresh, stay funny, and keep its fans caring about the five main characters after all this time.
Now that I’ve gotten my sentimental 200th episode paragraph out of the way, it’s time to focus on the actual episode itself. To put it simply, it’s clear that Carter Bays and Craig Thomas put some extra work into this one, and the result is one of the best episodes of the show yet.
I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for call-back episodes in long-running series. But even among those highly enjoyable and illustrious episodes, this is one of the best. It’s a 22-minute look back at the last nine seasons of the show through the Mother’s eyes. All of the times where she nearly met Ted are highlighted, recalling many of the more emotional moments in the show’s history. Almost every time Ted has come close to meeting the Mother, Josh Radnor has delivered a touching voice-over about how finding love can take time. Those have been some of the most memorable scenes, and featured some of the best performances by all of the actors. Everything Cristin Milioti does in the episode rivals the best of what’s come before tonight.
What stands out, however, even in the early moments of the episode, is the impeccable balance between comedy and drama. For the most part, recent seasons have been lacking one of those two, or both. This episode is one of the most heart-wrenching ones that we’ve seen yet, but at times, it also had me giggling like a middle-school girl. To hit both extremes in 20 minutes is an accomplishment in itself. To hit both marks so perfectly is beyond incredible.
Frankly, I’m amazed at how this episode is able to evoke such a strong emotional response. Previously, the most memorable bits of the show had been serious, heartfelt scenes involving characters that had years to give the audience a reason to care. There was a ton of time spent to earn the affecting scenes, and they’re all the more powerful for it. In this episode, every single heart-wrenching second features the Mother. The Mother has been on the show for only a little over half a season and in most of those episodes she hasn’t appeared at all. In the ones where she has appeared, it’s never been for the majority of the episode. So how, with the audience having almost no precedent for why she’s worth caring about, is that character able to anchor a series of moving moments? Through perfect writing and a flawless performance by Milioti, of course.Next
Perhaps the reason this episode is such a success is because it recalls the earlier days of the show when everything felt so fresh. It’s reminiscent of when everything a character did felt more like a new trait to learn, rather a deviation from a personality that has already been established. It’s something new where we finally get to see what made a character who she is. We’ve still only seen the character on screen for a couple hours and so much of what the Mother has become should be credited to Milioti.
Her entire performance tonight is stunning, but it almost seems pointless to talk about anything other than the scene where she’s proposed to. Any time anyone leaves during a proposal, things are usually going to get fairly serious, but I had no idea just how hard the Mother’s time to think was going to hit me. It’s even more remarkable when you realize that her sadness is over a character whose voice we’ve never even heard. That’s right, not only do we not see Max, but we don’t even hear him. The only thing we know about him is that he bought her great birthday presents and she thought he was the one. And yet somehow that’s enough. Well, that and Milioti’s tear-lined monologue to the sky. It’s written perfectly, and she somehow finds a way to deliver it in a way that’s even better. Absolutely phenomenal.
I don’t feel uncomfortable at all calling “How Your Mother Met Me” one of the best episodes of How I Met Your Mother. This episode’s strength gives me hope that the actual meeting will live up to a level worthy of nine years of hype. If the creators were able to come up with something this great for the 200th episode, I have little doubt that the final big moment is going to surpass what we saw tonight. I don’t know how they’re going to do it, but I’m definitely excited to see.
Other Random Notes
- St. Patrick’s Day: The holiday of my people… Binge drinkers.
- The naked man always gives you exactly what you need. In this instance, it was well-timed advice. I think we could all use a little naked man in our lives.
- “He would’ve run screaming once he saw my calligraphy set, my coin collection, my chain-mail corset from the Renaissance fair.”
- “Last time I was here I think this bar was called Puzzles.”
- I feel like there’s some strong potential for a series of breakfast foods in a musical. We’ll call it Bagelweiss.
- Is that the record for the number of proposals that haven’t panned out in one show? By my count that’s the sixth.
Be sure to check back next week for my review of the next episode in the final season of How I Met Your Mother.