Thursday, May 16, 2013
HIMYM: Meeting the Mother and Looking Back/Ahead
First things first, the mother has been met. We have met her (even if Ted has not). She is no longer faceless and unknown. We saw her face and everything! And to my absolute delight, the mother is played by Tony nominated Once star Cristin Milioti. Say what you will about the rocky past few seasons or the anticipated final season coming up, but as a long-time fan of the show just seeing the titular mother's face in the season finale was super cathartic. I liken it to Deb finally finding out about Dexter or the Oceanic 6 escaping the island. Plus the casting really was quite pitch perfect, pun intended. We know Milioti has musical chops which was a prerequisite and her hometown vibe (born and raised in New Jersey and studied acting in NYC) adds a touch of charm and realism. It must have been quite daunting for the show's producers and casting directors to cast this role, but so far (even with very little to base it on), I think they'd made the perfect choice. Of course, it's going to be all about the chemistry with the cast especially Josh Radnor, but I'm confident it'll work.
With her reveal, however, all everyone wanted to talk about after the finale was next season, the show's final. I guess that makes sense, but it's also worth briefly talking about the show's penultimate season. With the show's future still uncertain early on, we got early confirmation that Barney and Robin are wedding-bound and that Ted will be meeting the mother that same night. While that flash-forward is par for the course of the show's time shifting capabilities, it did two things that hampered the season early on. First, it confirmed for the audience that we wouldn't be meeting the mother until at least the finale (which ended up being true) and second, it confirmed that Robin's and Barney's current relationships were doomed and thus our investment in those characters quickly plummeted. The show tried to wink to the audience by having an "Autumn of Breakups" arc, but instead it largely felt like the show running on fumes and lazily checking things off a checklist.
The show found new life when Barney proposed to Robin. The way he had to manipulate her to get her to say yes is... questionable, but the moment itself was quite wonderful. February sweeps saw the show continue it's momentum starting with the super fun Robin Sparkles Canada Variety Hour episode and ending with the inventive re-introduction of The Captain. It all fell apart a bit towards the end as the writers clearly demonstrated their absolute cluelessness on how to handle the Robin/Barney pre-wedding journey. He's still using his playbook and more of a horndog than ever while Robin is questioning her decision and might still be pining for Ted. The writers did show us how perfectly fit these two characters are in the finale, but why then pointlessly show them so at odds for a good chunk of the season especially after they got engaged? And what is the point of drudging up Ted/Robin again especially when he's mere days away from meeting his one true love?
So as you can see, there were enough things for me to complain about, but I do love to focus on the positives... Seth Green guest starring, the entire Mike Tyson plot line, the "Time Travelers" episode especially Radnor heartbreaking final scene, Karate Kid actor cameos, and to bring it all back... seeing the mother, with her cool boots and yellow umbrella. With regards to the mother and the final season, the creators have confirmed that the entire season will take place during that one weekend of Barney and Robin's wedding, 56 hours. We'll supposedly get to learn more about the mother and see how she meets each character before she meets Ted in the series finale. Like many people, I was upset when I heard about this news at first, but I've come around to appreciating the daring structure for the season and hope there'll at least be some flashbacks or flash-forwards to fill in some blanks. It may sound like I'm being yet again defensive for this show, but one of the unique elements of this show (and one of the reason why I loved it so) is its willingness to shake up its storytelling structure. So it's quite possible that this final season could very well be a tour de force. At the very least, the show's most frustrating element aka its lack of direction/destination has been essentially eliminated since the endgame is set and nigh. And I bet it's going to be legend, wait for it...