'How Your Mother Met Me': 'How I Met Your Mother' turns the tables, and it's great

cristin-milioti-rachel-bilson-how-your-mother-met-me.jpgThe 200th episode of "How I Met Your Mother" focused almost solely on the Mother -- down to the opening credits, which retitled the show "How Your Mother Met Me." A lot of things could have gone wrong with the episode -- and a couple did -- but thanks to a knockout performance from Cristin Milioti, it worked really well.

The biggest potential pitfall lay in depicting Ted and the Mother's near-misses as just a series of zany coincidences, a low-rent "Sliding Doors" that invested no emotional weight in the Mother's story. Fortunately, that didn't happen, and we learned a great deal about the Mother and why she is where she is in the process.

It can't be said enough how well Milioti handled the emotional scenes, particularly the moment where she asked her late boyfriend if it would be OK to let him go, finally, nearly eight years after his death. Coupled with her performance of "La Vie en Rose" on the hotel balcony (the Tony nominee's rendition is available on iTunes), she had me, and I suspect a lot of other people, reaching for the tissue box.

It also had me feeling very strongly that Ted really better treat this woman right. We have no evidence that he doesn't -- indeed, everything we've seen with Milioti and Josh Radnor together feels as natural as can be. But watch your back, Mosby. Do her wrong and we're coming for you.

When "HIMYM" is on its game, as it was tonight, it's able to mix those emotional moments with lots of goofy jokes, and the bits in which the Mother nearly crosses paths with the gang (aside from two glaring continuity errors; see below) pulled that off. The best bit came with the revelation that the Mother's former orchestra camp counselor is Mitch, the inventor of The Naked Man, but the scenes where the Mother, in a very Ted-like way, gives a very long-winded answer to a simple question, also scored.

We also get to see Cindy (welcome back, Rachel Bilson) and the Mother in the lecture hall Ted mistakenly enters on his first day of teaching; watch the Mother get flustered when Cindy tells her Ted has a thing for her; learn the Mother's boyfriend Louis visited Puzzles; and watch her just miss Ted declaring "Now we're even" in his green dress.

So it looks like when Ted and the Mother meet, neither one of them will be in the greatest place emotionally -- though his wounds are largely self-inflicted while hers came from external forces. Maybe that will lead them to recognize what the other has gone through, though, and bring them that much closer. And if the show's final eight episodes can live up to this one, then "How I Met Your Mother" will go out on a definite high note.

Odds and ends from "How Your Mother Met Me":

  • So, those continuity errors: The first, and worse of the two, came just before the Mother's friend convinced her to go out on St. Patrick's Day. The title card on screen, though, read "April 2008." St. Patrick's Day is, of course, in March. The second came in a bit of Future Ted narration. According to the on-screen card, the Mother and Louis meet in April 2012, but Future Ted later says they dated for "a couple of years." Since the show's present day is still May 2013, the math doesn't work.
  • Cindy's "I could be a serial killer" line, and the Mother's response, is a nice callback (call-forward?) to the way Lily and the Mother meet in this season's premiere.
  • Other things in the Mother and Cindy's apartment that would have made Ted fall for the Mother: her calligraphy set, her coin collection and her chain-mail corset from the Renaissance fair. Also, the way she says "Re-NAY-sance."

What did you think of "How Your Mother Met Me"?
Photo/Video credit: CBS
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