'How I Met Your Mother' recap: "How Your Mother Met Me" fills in nine years of Mother-less history

Pseudo-backdoor pilot for the How I Met Your Father spinoff? Much-needed (quick) break from the fivesome we’ve spent 199 episodes hanging out with, most recently in the midst of a pretty ugly fight between Marshall and Lily? Mostly toothless, but fun look back on all the Mother “reveals” over the years — her umbrella, her leg, her bass — from the perspective of the mystery woman herself? How I Met Your Mother’s 200th episode, "How Your Mother Met Met Me," functioned on more than a few levels. But more important than its role in scratching series-long itches and effectively pushing us into the show’s endgame… these were just 21 very sweet, very sincere minutes that harkened back to HIMYM in its prime. Did you cry? I mean I didn’t, but maybe you did. And that’s for a character we’ve only known for half a season! Imagining how much better those fall episodes could have been with more Mother emphasis makes me almost plotz.

Perhaps shading the last nine years of the Mother’s life with the death of her true love was a bit over the top, and narratively convenient (no need to cast multiple ex-boyfriends)… but on the other hand? The yearning, the romanticism, the meandering detours and life changes — it all screams TED in the best way. Mother’s (hi, Norman Bates!) train run-in with Lily in the fall did a great job painting her as Ted’s perfect nerd-quirky foil, but tonight offered even more clarity on their pairing. Just look at this cute-ass crap:

  • “Why would you call a bar Puzzles? Unless… that’s the puzzle?”
  • Mistakenly running from Ted’s Architecture 101 class at the same time he was running from the same class, realizing he was in the wrong room.
  • They both pronounce it “ReNAIssance”!
  • They share a love of metaphor! “The first lottery ticket I ever bought, and it was a winner. I just don’t think you find that again.”
  • Getting permission from her dead boyfriend, Max, to finally move on with her life (granted this isn’t cute and Ted has never spoken to ghosts, but this connection is obvious, right?)

And maybe it was a little manipulative, sure, but that post-proposal talk with Max, a guy we’d never seen — fantastic. All the credit to Cristin Milioti, so perfectly cast in this role, for selling the heartbreak of someone we’re still getting to know. In a season that’s been largely underwhelming, every scene she’s in brings hope that this final stretch of episodes can be the poignant but irreverent, sentimental but ridiculous show HIMYM once knew so well how to be. Edith, what do you think?

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Image: CBS