Jan 28 2014 11:48am

How I Met Your Mother 9x16: The Mother of All Payoffs

The Mother in How I Met Your Mother Season 9, episode 16, How Your Mother Met MeThis post contains SPOILERS for all aired episodes of How I Met Your Mother, including last night’s 9x16, “How Your Mother Met Me.” Enjoy!

We still don’t know the name of the future Mrs. Ted Mosby, but we do learn a lot more about her in How I Met Your Mother’s two hundredth episode, “How Your Mother Met Me.” While it may not be possible to cover nine years of story in thirty minutes, this episode hits some important turning points from Mrs. Mosby’s point of view, adding depth to moments we’ve already experienced and setting the stage for what is still to come. With loads of callbacks, close calls and counterpoints, there’s a lot of ground to cover, and it starts with the other MacLaren’s…

The very same night, all those years ago, when Marshall and Lily became engaged, when Ted met Barney and Robin at the MacLaren’s pub we all know and love, he might have met the real love of his life. The future Mrs. Mosby was there as well, though only for a moment, as she rushes out of the bar and heads to another bar by the same name, apologizing to her own gang of friends. It’s Mrs. Mosby’s twenty-first birthday, and the gang is ready to celebrate. The only member missing from their gang is her boyfriend, Max, whom we soon learn loves every quirk Mrs. Mosby has, inside and out. If she’s got her perfect man, what does she need with Ted? We soon find out, as Mrs. Mosby returns home, the party over and still no Max.

There’s a beautifully wrapped ukulele waiting for her, made all the more poignant as a phone call shatters her world. As soon as we hear her utter “this is she,” and watch her expression fall, it’s a gut punch, and we can easily understand the time jump to two years later. Mrs. Mosby’s fun-loving roommate, Kelly, urges her to go out to a Saint Patrick’s Day party fans will recognize right off the bat. Mrs. Mosby still isn’t so sure, but Kelly coaxes her along with a pep talk. Her true love might be in there and if he doesn’t bump in to her, he’ll bump into somebody else. Loyal viewers already know how that night turned out for Ted. Finding out Kelly bumped into Barney was fun, but who could have seen it coming that Mrs. Mosby left the party—without her yellow umbrella—with Mitch, aka the Naked Man?

Now we know that it was Mrs. Mosby’s rejection that makes the Naked Man play work two out of three times, and he’s the one who leaves her with a bit of wisdom. Every decision she makes in life needs to be in the direction of her greatest wish; in her case, to end poverty. That decision leads her to an economics class, the very same one that freshman professor Ted began teaching before noticing he was in the wrong building. It’s also where Mrs. Mosby meets her future roommate Cindy, who dates and later breaks up with Ted because he’s fallen in love with Mrs. Mosby without even meeting her. Who wouldn’t love Mrs. Mosby, Cindy asks, leaning in for a kiss, which our heroine gracefully acknowledges though she can’t return the sentiment. Along with the return of her yellow umbrella, Mrs. Mosby also rediscovers it’s nice to be kissed by someone, and maybe she can start living again.

While hauling equipment for her band, Freakanomics, she meets handsome nice guy Lewis, and they begin dating, but it’s not love, at least not on her part. Lewis allows Mrs. Mosby to stay in his Farhampton beach house when her band is booked for the wedding, and surprised her with a proposal. Overcome, she tells him she has to talk to somebody, and heads out to the porch to say a final farewell to her beloved Max. She’s been holding herself back all this time because she can’t let Max go, but he’s not here anymore, so is it all right if she moves on? She takes the resulting wind as a yes, but it’s still a no for Lewis, and Mrs. Mosby decamps to the very same inn where the wedding party is staying.

Since the mother of the bride never checked in, there is a vacant room, and Mrs. Mosby takes Max’s ukulele out onto the patio for a poignant rendition of “La Vie en Rosa,” not knowing that on the other side of the wall is Mr. Mosby, touched by the most heartfelt music he’s ever heard. The action swings back now to our regulars; feuding Marshall and Lily in their separate scenes, Robin with bridal nerves and Barney, first drinking and then mysteriously missing when Ted returns to their shared room. For a romantic comedy, this is an emotional cliff from which to hang, but as HIMYM has reminded us time and again, these are all individual steps toward happily ever after, whether or not we know that while putting one foot in front of the other.


Anna C. Bowling considers writing historical romance the best way to travel through time and make the voices in her head pay rent. She welcomes visitors to her blog, Typing with Wet Nails and to follow her at Twitter.

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Heather Waters
1. HeatherWaters
How I Met Your Mother's last season has been a bit disappointing to me, but last night's episode was a lovely payoff. Getting to see The Mother's viewpoint of all those near run-ins over the years was fantastic, and Cristin Milioti has really sold the role.

We didn't already know about The Mother having a former love, did we?
Anna Bowling
2. AnnaBowling
@redline_, I don't think we did know about the Mother's former love, but it does add another layer to her character's journey. Perhaps the fact that she, too, had a love that was hard to get over might help Ted finally come to terms that romance with Robin is not going to happen. At least he still has Robin's friendship, while the Mother doesn't have Max in her life at all.

I loved getting to see her perspective of all the near-misses and connections almost made, and I wanted to know more. Though there's not much time left in this final season, if we could get more tidbits of the Mother's perspective, that could make up for some of the season's prior flubs (slap bet episode, anyone?) and Cristin Milioti fits into the world of the characters seamlessly. As Ted will no doubt agree, she's definitely worth the wait.
Heather Waters
3. HeatherWaters
@Anna -- Do you know...is Cristin Milioti going to be in How I Met Your Father, or will that have a whole different cast and/or be about different characters? 'Cause I was thinking that last night's episode kind of put some restrictions on a show about The Mother, since she was dating that guy who proposed for a long time, etc., which wouldn't be that interesting in a show. Plus, I wasn't too keen on The Mother's best friend as a regular character.
Jennifer Proffitt
4. JenniferProffitt
I had been hoping and praying for this episode or this type of episode for a really long time! It was really great to see her side of things--sort of--and HEARTBREAKING to here about her first love. It makes her much more sympathetic than Ted. Love it!

Also, you guys just blew my mind about the spin-off! I've been unplugged from this series since the holiday hiatus and so hadn't been hearing ANY news about this. Crazy!
Anna Bowling
5. AnnaBowling
@redline_, I would bleed unicorn tears of joy if the upcoming "How I Met Your Dad" was indeed the Mother's side of the story, but everything I've read from Carter and Bays on this topic indicates a whole new cast of characters and a brand new story. Which I will definitely check out and probably watch, but part of me will always wish we could have seen the other side of the coin.

On the other hand, last night's episode did indeed lay out a lot of what would have been in Mrs. Mosby's own story, so perhaps it's best we're starting fresh. The best friend didn't thrill me with the small bits we saw, but I do wish we'd learned more about her other buddies, and certainly about Max.

@JenniferProffitt, this has to count as one of my top ten HIMYM episodes. Her storyline with Max punched me right in the gut, and Mrs. Mosby does come across as more sympathetic than Ted, since her heartbreak was so sudden and completely out of her hands.

Very much looking forward to the spinoff and maybe an occasional cameo from our beloved gang.
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