I already reviewed the "How I Met Your Mother" season finale last night, but I have some morning-after thoughts — including words from Carter Bays — on what the episode means for the show's final season, coming up just as soon as we watch a movie that doesn't start with a desk lamp jumping on top of a capital I...
Sigh. So last night, I was all excited and optimistic about what the introduction of Cristin Milioti as the Mother (watch the video below if you missed it) would do for the show as it headed into the home stretch. Surely, I thought, even Bays and Craig Thomas wouldn't show us the Mother's face in this episode and then drag out her meeting with Ted until the last episode of the series, right? Surely this would force the series to get its act together and move forward at the end, right?
At the end of a long statement CBS put out this morning, Bays said, "Our ninth season will tell the epic story of the longest wedding weekend ever. We hope you like it. Next stop, Farhampton..."
Sigh. They're going to do it. They are really going to stretch Robin and Barney's wedding weekend out over the entire final season.
Now, given the shenanigans the show has pulled over the last several years, this probably shouldn't be a surprise. And in an interview with Craig Thomas over at EW, Bays even comes out and says that their plan all along was, as I'd assumed for a while, to take the show's title literally and not introduce the Mother until the very end of the series. This appears to be them just putting a twist on that idea by letting us meet the Mother before the end, even if the final scene of the series is likely to be them on the train platform at Farhampton.
And earlier in the CBS statement, Bays says, "We're thrilled to welcome (Milioti) to the 'How I Met Your Mother' family, and look forward to getting to know her – and the character she plays – much better in the coming final season."
So whatever the plan is, it is not to show us Milioti's face for a few seconds here, then keep her off-camera again until the series finale. There are at least three ways they can approach things:
1)They pull a "Lost" season 4, and Barney and Robin's wedding weekend becomes a framing device to flashforwards of Ted and the Mother's life together in the days, weeks, months and/or years that follow that wedding;
2)They use the wedding as a framing device for a parallel flashback narrative about what the Mother was up to over the last 8 years, including the various times (Ted's lecture to the wrong college class, Ted dating Rachel Bilson) when their paths briefly, tangentially crossed. That's one of the ideas Thomas mentioned a couple of years ago for what they might do if a ninth season happened;
3)A combination of the two, where sometimes we see the Mother's past and sometimes her future with Ted.
(There's also the horrific fourth option, which I'd rather not consider: that the great bulk of each episode is about wedding weekend hijinx, and every once in a while we cut to the Mother sitting on an LIRR train, tuning her
guitar bass, or doing something else on her own for five seconds.)
As you know, I'd much prefer it if the show cut out the time travel games at this point, since they've tended to do more harm than good. A more straightforward approach — Robin and Barney get married in a two or three-part episode at the start of the season, then we spend the final year with Ted and the Mother dating — seems preferable to either of those approaches. But if Milioti is really good, and the writers can make her into a character worthy of all the build-up, this could work, anyway.
In other words, my assumption last night that the show would just move forward from this was Denial, my reaction to Bays' comments at the end of the CBS statement were Anger, and now I'm Bargaining. Join us next fall to see when or if I go through Depression and then Acceptance!
What does everybody else think? Do Bays and Thomas' comments make you more or less enthusiastic about the final season than you were when you saw Milioti's face last night? And given that we're apparently stuck with the wedding all season, would you rather see the Mother's past or future?
Alan Sepinwall may be reached at email@example.com