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'How I Met Your Mother' 'How Your Mother Met Me' Recap: The Mother Breaks Our Hearts

An episode of How I Met Your Mother stirring up emotions, whether it’s elation or heartbreak, isn’t something new. Not at all. For over eight years, HIMYM has been delivering episodes of that caliber. Sure, there are low points in the show’s storytelling, but any program that has aired 200 episodes is going to have a few misses.

When it comes to “How Your Mother Met Me,” HIMYM did something amazing. Not only did it create yet another episode that made us feel feelings, but it accomplished that feat with a character who up until this point was more of a concept than an actual person. “How Your Mother Met Me” jumped back in time to 2005 to follow The Mother’s side of the story, showing all the times she almost met Ted.

Ted Mosby’s path to finding his soulmate hasn’t been an easy one. At various times, he thought Robin or Victoria or Zoey was the person he would spend the rest of his life. He actually made it to his wedding with Stella, only to get left at the altar. Five seasons ago, we watched Ted have his heart broken as he sat on that Shelter Island bed reading the note that Stella wrote him. Last season in “Time Travelers,” we saw a very alone Ted imagine going to his future wife’s apartment and tearfully wish that they were together at that very moment. For almost a decade, we’ve had our hearts broken right along with Ted.

In one 22-minute episode, HIMYM made The Mother break our hearts too. We were led to believe that Ted’s love life was tough, with the breakups and the failed engagement. It turns out The Mother’s love life was even tougher.

The love of The Mother’s life died when she was 21.

While Lily and Marshall were celebrating getting engaged and Ted was meeting Robin for the first time back in September 2005, The Mother’s 21st birthday party was interrupted by a phone call telling her that Max, the love of her life, was gone. She returned to the apartment she and Max had shared to find her birthday present waiting for her: A ukulele with a note reading, “So your breakfast doesn’t need to sing a cappella.” Ted may have thought he was alone at times, but The Mother really was.

Losing the person she believed was her one true love at 21 really did a number on The Mother. For almost seven years, she didn’t date anyone. In fact, she didn’t even believe that she deserved to find anyone else. At one point, she told Cindy, her roommate who dated Ted, “I believe that each of us only gets one [true love]. And I got mine already.” The Mother held onto this belief until April 2012, when she finally agreed to date Louis, her boyfriend before Ted. Even then, The Mother was apprehensive about dating.

“It’s like the first lottery ticket I ever bought was — KABOOM — jackpot and I’m pretty sure I’m not going to win again. Not like that anyways,” she told Louis. “So I don’t generally buy lottery tickets anymore.”

That’s heartbreaking.

It’s one thing to have had relationships that ended poorly. You still have faith that things will turn around. You still believe that the universe is going to pull through. You still hope that, like Stella once told Ted, the perfect person for you is trying to get to you as fast as they can. But to have the love of your life ripped away and to lose all hope? That’s crushing.

The Mother’s outlook on love was the opposite of Ted’s. No matter how many times Ted got knocked down, he always came back to the idea that there’s someone out there for him. We’ve seen him take some pretty hard hits over the years, but Ted always believed that his soulmate is out there. I’m guessing that Ted is going to be the one who restores that hope for The Mother.

While in Farhampton to play at Robin and Barney’s wedding reception, The Mother was staying at Louis’ beach house. The night before the wedding, she returned to that beach house to find Louis waiting for her — and ready to propose. “Can you give me a minute?” The Mother asked as Louis was down on one knee.

She had to talk to someone. After years of holding herself back from loving another person, The Mother need to talk with Max about moving on.

“Hi, Max. It’s me,” The Mother, looking to the sky outside Louis’ beach house. “Sorry to interrupt. I know you’re probably up there playing baseball with your dad. Look, I’ve, uh, got a situation here. I think that I have been holding myself back from falling in love again and I think it’s because I can’t let you go. But you’re not here anymore, so I have to ask this — would it be OK if I moved on? I realize that you have no way of answering that, but um …”

The wind picked up here, pushing The Mother back. ”OK, I will take that as a ‘yes.’ In that case, I should get back in there. I guess this is it ... for real this time. Bye, Max.”

Even though she had a sign from Max that it was OK to find someone who loved her, The Mother told Louis that she couldn’t marry him. She collected her belongings, including the yellow umbrella, and left the beach house. Thankfully, the mother of the bride never checked into the Farhampton Inn so there was a room open there for The Mother to stay in. With her conversation with Max and her breakup with Louis still weighing on her, The Mother unpacked the ukulele given to her by the love of her life and went out to the balcony.

As The Mother sat there singing “La Vie en Rose” and strumming along on her ukulele, HIMYM tied the moment into the current state of the gang: a teary eyed Marshall sitting on his bed after his fight with his wife, Lily driving away from the Farhampton Inn, Robin falling asleep before her wedding day and Barney finishing off a bottle of booze.

And then there was Ted.

The Mother room wasn’t just any room at the inn. Just as Ted had always believed and always hoped, the universe had a plan. The Mother’s room was right next to Ted’s. As she quietly played “La Vie en Rose,” Ted was on his own balcony, listening to the woman who would someday become his wife, who he would someday share a home with and who he would someday have two kids with. The right place, at the right time.

This is why I love HIMYM. All of the miscues, all of the storylines that don’t go anywhere, all of the awful road trips with Daphne — none of those things matter after you watch an episode like “How Your Mother Met Me.” Just like how Ted’s faith in the universe is soon going to be rewarded, our faith in this show is rewarded when HIMYM is able to tell a story as perfectly as it did with “How Your Mother Met Me.”

When previously discussing "How Your Mother Met Me," HIMYM's 200th episode, show co-creator Craig Thomas said, "We want her to win an Emmy for this episode," referring to Cristin Milioti. Thomas wasn't kidding. I've been impressed with Milioti as The Mother since the show's ninth season began, but she absolutely crushed it this episode. I am so glad HIMYM went with her over a big name actress who would've just been stunt casting. The scene with The Mother talking to Max on the beach house porch had all the emotional wallop that we've seen Josh Radnor deliver as Ted over the years.

Beyond this episode’s triumph of fleshing out The Mother so well, “How Your Mother Met Me” was a treasure trove of moments that HIMYM fans had been hoping for for years. We finally got to see all the times The Mother and Ted almost met.

ST. PATRICK’S DAY 2008: Yes, The Mother and her friend, Kelly, were at the St. Patrick’s Day party that Ted and Barney went to in the Season 3 episode “No Tomorrow.” Kelly even bumped into Barney, but wasn’t swayed by his pickup line. At the party, The Mother ran into Mitch, her instructor from orchestra camp. The Mother invited Mitch over to her place to pick up her cello, which Mitch took as an invitation to try out a new move of his: The Naked Man.

Yes, The Mother was friends with the guy who pulled the Naked Man on Robin in the Season 4 episode “The Naked Man.” It turns out that The Mother was actually the third woman Mitch had tried the move on, and while it had worked on the first two women, it didn’t work on The Mother. The Naked Man — it works every two out of three times.

FALL 2009: Realizing that she would have to take some economics classes if she wanted to accomplish her goal of ending poverty, The Mother wound up sitting next to Cindy. The two quickly connected, and Cindy would become The Mother’s roommate. Before that could happen, The Mother and Cindy had to sit through Ted thinking their economics class was his architecture class. During her short time as Ted’s student, The Mother had the chance to laugh at a corny Ted Mosby joke. She was the only one in the class who laughed.

JANUARY 2010: Ted has just ruined his chances with Cindy by gushing about the items in her apartment that belonged to her roommate. As Ted leaves the apartment, that roommate — The Mother — steps into the bathroom. We saw that moment in the Season 5 episode “Girls Versus Suits,” and now we got to see what happened next. Cindy told The Mother that she and Ted had broken up … and told her roommate that it was because Ted was in love with The Mother. Then Cindy kissed The Mother. “I might have some stuff I have to figure out,” Cindy said. Thankfully Cindy figured that stuff out, since it was her and her girlfriend, Casey, who would someday recommend The Mother’s band to Ted for Robin and Barney’s wedding.

There are just eight episodes of HIMYM left. Episodes like “How Your Mother Met Me” make it very difficult to say goodbye to this show.

Notes and quotes
There are two MacLaren’s Pubs. While Ted, Marshall, Lily, Robin and Barney have been hanging out at the one on the West Side, it turns out that The Mother and her friends frequented the one on the other side of the city.

Ted has previously mentioned The Mother’s painting of robots and habit of making english muffins perform songs during breakfast.

Mitch after pulling the Naked Man on The Mother: “This is my thing.”
The Mother: “That most certainly is your thing. Now please cover your thing up.”

A naked Mitch: “Can I tell you an embarrassing story?”
The Mother: “Is it this one taking place right now?”

Cindy to The Mother after Ted managed to find her stuff in Cindy’s room: “He has a thing for you.”

Hearing The Mother pronounce “renaissance” in the same douchey way that Ted pronounces “encyclopaedia” was a touching moment.

The Mother trying to figure out why someone would name a bar Puzzles: “Why would you call a bar Puzzles? Unless … that’s the puzzle.”

You can purchase Milioti's version of "La Vie en Rose" on iTunes.
'How I Met Your Mother' 'How Your Mother Met Me' Recap: The Mother Breaks Our Hearts Reviewed by Bill Kuchman on 1/28/2014 Rating: 5

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