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Worldly Distractions: How I Met Your Mother 9.16 - How Your Mother Met Me





Over the course of the seemingly interminable story of Ted, I think more than a few viewers have wondered what was up with the other half of the equation. There have been hints, but nothing approached the full story. Tonight, we finally get to hear about it. I'm just glad we get to leave the hotel.

We go back to 2005 and Barney's fateful game of "Haaaave you met Ted?". A woman happens to walk right by them, on her way to help out a friend. She takes a cab to the other MacLaren's, where she finds... the Mother. We get cool opening credits featuring the Mother and her friends, complete with new title.

The Mother is celebrating her twenty-first birthday, a milestone for any young American. Her boyfriend Max appears to be running late, which she assumes is because he's looking for a last-minute gift. The Mother geeks out and behaves exactly like Girl Ted. Just then, her phone rings and she picks it up assuming it's the boyfriend. However, her mood suddenly changes, and we realize she's just been the recipient of very bad news.

The show suddenly takes a sombre turn, as we learn that Max has died. She tearfully comes home to find his gift - a ukulele - sitting on the coffee table. Two years later, we find that the Mother has been somewhat of a recluse ever since, creating strange art and refusing to date. Her friend Kelly takes her out for a crazy St Patrick's Day party. She brings the yellow umbrella with her.

At the club, the Mother is somewhat of a wet blanket. Kelly is soon exasperated. She tells the Mother that the love of her life might be on that dance floor, waiting to bump into her. Naturally, Ted is there, but manages to bump into everyone else in the room instead. Meanwhile, the Mother runs into her old friend, a musician called Mitch. He needs instruments for his school. The Mother offers him her cello and uses it as an excuse to bail on her friend. Kelly, not one to let a party end, runs into Barney. She wisely turns him down.

Back at the apartment, Mitch pulls the Naked Man on her. This time, it doesn't work. This gives the Mother cause to bemoan her perpetual singleness. She and her friend (still naked) discuss disappointment and following their dreams. The Mother, apparently quite socially conscious, decides she wants to fight to end poverty. She then realizes she forgot her umbrella and runs out of the room. Kelly walks in, sees Mitch nude, and decides she might as well.

Ted has since stolen the umbrella. We move on to 2009, where the Mother has enrolled in an economics class. She chats up the girl next to her, who turns out to be her future roommate Cindy (Rachel Bilson). We of course know about her brief relationship with Ted. I don't think this quite meshes with the timeline, but whatever, I'll give it a pass. The Mother tells Cindy she will never search for love, because she had hers already with Max, and she doesn't want to take another chance. Cindy suggests there will be a Next One. Just as the Mother dismisses this, Ted stumbles into the room. The Mother gives him a thoughtful look.

The Mother surprisingly doesn't find him to be ridiculous, laughing at all his stupid jokes. When Ted mentions that the class is in architecture, she assumes she's in the wrong place and goes running out. By the time she figures out that she was right all along, Ted runs by screaming about the wrong class. We cut to Ted in the apartment, happy that Cindy plays the bass. Nope, it's the Mother's instrument, and he gets a fleeting glimpse of her walking by. Meanwhile, his relationship with Cindy is kaput. The Mother walks out, finds her umbrella mysteriously back, and goes to ask Cindy about it. She finds her roommate in tears.

Cindy explains that they broke up because he clearly fancied the Mother, despite never having met her. The Mother thinks this is ridiculous, but Cindy continues on, saying that anyone would fall in love with her - including Cindy. Soon enough, she lunges in and locks lips with The Mother.

The Mother is surprised, but moves on pretty fast, though the feelings aren't mutual. She realizes that it feels good to be kissed, and maybe she should get back in the dating game. Cindy eventually finds a girlfriend, which the Mother recounts to a prospective roommate, the evil lead singer Darren (played by Andrew Rannells, who seems to be on every single show this season). Darren admits that he doesn't really need a place to live - he wants to make a musical connection. Within moments, he has wedged his way into her life, and by 2012, he has taken over the band. The Mother is relegated to roadie.

However, there is a bright side - she meets a handsome guy who helps her load equipment. They flirt back and forth, go to MacLaren's (though he remembers it as Puzzles), and consider taking the relationship further. However, the Mother refuses because she's still not over Dead Boyfriend. Just for fun, we see Barney and a pregnant Lily chatting in the background.  Moments after the Mother leaves, Ted walks in wearing the green dress.

For some reason she changes her mind, and tells Kelly all about the new guy she's dating. (Her friend, meanwhile, continues to fend off Barney.) The relationship with Lewis continues for two years - but something's missing. The Mother enjoys being with him, but it's not love. Life marches on. Ted runs into Cindy on the subway and asks if she knows a band. Lewis just happens to have beach house in Farhampton, where the Mother stays for the weekend when not at the gig. She then gets the fateful "Bass Player Wanted" ad, and is advised by Lily to "steal this douchemonkey's van".

The Mother drives Marshall to the inn, Ted punches out Darren and pushes him to quit, the Mother buys Ted a drink and returns home to find Lewis - down on one knee and holding a ring.

Stunned, the Mother runs outside without giving an answer and talks to Max. She pours out her heart, finally asking if it's okay to let go. The wind blows, which she decides is a yes. She goes back in to say yes. Just short of the door, though, she turns around and tells Max that "this is it". However, she can barely get the words out for crying. Finally, she goes inside and turns Lewis down.

Her relationship over, she leaves the beach house and heads to the Farhampton - only getting a room because the bride's mother never showed up. The smarmy clerk hears the word "single" and gives her a very special room (and come on, you know which room it is). She goes out on her balcony carrying her ukulele and performs a beautiful rendition of La Vie En Rose (okay, okay, it's in English, but she pulls it off okay so I'll give her a pass. French or nothing, people). It's utterly charming, kind of like Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's. And like Holly, someone overhears her.

We get a montage of the entire cast collapsing into their beds/cars after a long, hard day. As the mother finishes her song, the camera pans to the balcony next to hers. It's Ted's, of course. He leans on the barrier, overcome. Old Ted tells the kids that no matter how many times he hears the mother sing that song, the first will always be his favorite.

Ted goes back to the room he's sharing with Barney. He talks about the beautiful song he just heard, but suddenly realizes something's not right. It turns out Barney has escaped. End credits.

Well, despite the general horror of this season, I have to say that this is a fantastic episode. And that's by whole-series standards, not just Season 9. The Mother was fun from the beginning, but here she turned into a fully-fledged character, almost on par with the others - keep in mind that we're comparing nine seasons to one episode. It was wonderful to see all the callbacks to the rest of the series. Best of all was Cristin Milioti. It was her show, and she knocked it out of the park. I wouldn't be surprised if an Emmy nomination is in her future. To have come all this way knowing nothing about the Mother would have been a huge disappointment. I for one am very glad the show took the time to introduce her.

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