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.