How I Met Your Mother Season 9 Premiere Review: Love and Unicorn Teardrops

By Kaitlin Thomas

Sep 24, 2013

How I Met Your Mother S09E01/S09E02 "The Locket"/"Coming Back"


While many fans of How I Met Your Mother might lament that the show is not a laugh riot, I don't subscribe to the notion that it's a poor imitation of what it once was. Yes, the series has changed and developed into something different over the years, and yes, sometimes it makes poor decisions (Lily's "Thank you, Linus" drink gag went on at least six drinks too long), but then it pulls out a combination like tonight's "The Locket" and "Coming Back" and it reminds us that there's more to this show than just laughs. 

HIMYM is a romantic series in several senses of the word. Ted is a romantic, someone who's constantly searching for that great love and wants everything about love to be ideal and perfect. But it's also romantic in the sense that for eight season we've watched a long, often embellished, tale about our group of heroes and their extraordinary (or legendary, as it were) experiences in Manhattan. And I don't know that we can look at the series and judge it solely on the quality of laughs it produces. Because it's not the same series it was at the outset. And that's not a bad thing.

The series stopped being a joke factory when it developed these characters into actual people with real feelings, specifically when it gave Neil Patrick Harris something to do other than just act like a horndog. Harris's best work has always been when Barney's emotional and sweet and in love, and there's a reason he was nominated for all those Emmys (damn you, Jon Cryer!) earlier in the show's run. I'm not saying that the past few seasons haven't been rough, because they certainly have, but I'm also not willing to dismiss the show and say that it's a shell of what it once was as others might. Robin and Barney's relationship in Season 4 was definitely the catalyst for change on HIMYM, and while the writers clearly didn't know what to do with them in Season 5, I do feel their relationship is just as important now to the trajectory of HIMYM as Ted's search for the mother. After all, if it weren't for their wedding, he never would have met her.

And speaking of the wedding, in tonight's hour-long premiere, several storylines were introduced, both sentimental and humorous. But perhaps the only one that really mattered was the one involving Cristin Milioti's titular mother. Lily has now met her, having bailed on Ted's meticulously planned roadtrip and hopping a train to Farhampton (can't say I really blame her, Mennonite windmills do nothing for me either). And although Lily doesn't know that this woman will soon become a much larger part of her life, their friendship on the train was as easy as it was fun to watch. But for the record, as a general rule, you should never ever take a cookie from a stranger on a train. I don't care how upset you are about not seeing your child, or about how stupid Ted is. Do. Not. Take. The Cookie.

Prior to tonight, we'd only heard Milioti utter one sentence: "One ticket to Farhampton, please." But she had much more to do this time around, and in the short time we spent with her, it's obvious why she was cast as the mother. She's funny, and she has the ability to go toe-to-toe with Angry Lily and come out relatively unscathed. It couldn't have been easy joining a show in its ninth and final season, but she's assimilated herself into the cast and made it look as if she'd been there all along. Her chemistry with Josh Radnor in the final scene of tonight's premiere was both sweet and sexy, and while her character is much funnier than Ted, she likes the same things that Ted likes, like driving gloves and taking seven hour detours to see roadside attractions like goats blowing smoke rings. It's easy to see why Ted would fall for her. And why Milioti was cast in the first place.


But if I have one complaint about Season 9 so far, it's about the season-long wedding setup. Right now it's still new, but I fear it will soon wear out its welcome. We've only seen the first two hours of the wedding weekend (one hour our time), but we've already had Douchey Ted, an incest scare involving Cousin Mitch the Lumberjack with 6 Fingers, a scary Sherri Shepherd, a long cautionary joke about how everything we put on the internet is permanent (unless your child is Baby Marvin), a patented Stinson history lesson that involved a pretty funny White Russian joke, a Bondage Five, a divorce announcement, an erotic cake, and several painful reminders that Ted is single. 

Next week Barney and Robin's relatives arrive and I worry that we'll soon run out of worthy wedding-related stories to tell. But more importantly, I worry that we'll all soon be banging our heads against the metaphorical car window on this long, tedious road to the finish line. And after nine years that would be a horrible way to go out. Let's hope the writers can come through and that the addition of Milioti to the cast is enough to make this drawn-out final season worth it.


NOTES

– How sweet was it to see the cast picture from the opening credits with Josh, Jason, Alyson, Cobie, and Neil? That was eight years ago. Everyone looks so young! It's the perfect wedding gift for Robin.

– What did you think of Cristin Milioti as the Mother?

– Why exactly is Ted going to Los Angeles? We do not need more Ted pining over Robin, or a scene about giving her the locket. And we sure as hell do not need more Stella.

– Marshall feels very disconnected from the story, which makes sense considering he's in Minnesota and trying to get back to New York in time for the wedding, but I don't care for it. I don't like Marshmallow without his Lilypad.

– Ted's question about why the glove compartment is called the glove compartment if it isn't meant to hold your gloves? As the great prophet Ben Gibbard once said, "The glove compartment isn't accurately named, and everybody knows it."

– "You're a 21st century toilet." Ouch, Ted Mosby with the zinger

– "I'm coming back and I'm bringing you."

– Barney: "Our wedding is going to be legendary." Robin: "No wait-for-it?" Barney: "I've got you. I don't have to wait for it anymore." AWWW.

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  • GirishKrishna1 Apr 03, 2014

    The Mother is quite funny and adorable. Having a regular actor portray her is a good thing. I am a dude and I do agree that HIMYM always has been a dramedy and its the thing that drew me in. I had tears by the end of the premiere and I don't do tears. I positively hated it during its middle seasons and took years to catch up on them (case in point, I just finished season 8). But, season 8 was good and this was a good start as well. Guys generally like romance and all that, its just that its insanely infuriating to see Hollywood bs 'romance'. HIMYM is on the right track as of now (I know that the finale has divided the entire fandom as of now).

  • Manse1961 Jan 16, 2014

    It made me angry to see Ted interacting with "The Mother" at the end of the episode in the flash forward. For 8 years we've been waiting to see them meet and interact with each other for the first time upon meeting. To have them already have met and interacting BEFORE we see how it happened really has ruined the show for me...of course I'll continue to watch but I'm really disappointed not to see their first meeting as their first on-screen interaction.

  • TheGrimAriel Sep 30, 2013

    I'm actually looking forward to the wedding setup of the season. I think it's gonna give us a chance to have a few new recurring (and funny as!) characters. Like the reception-guy and the lady who's driving Marshall to new york. I wouldn't mind having them around longer haha ;D

  • tobsh Sep 30, 2013

    I so completely disagree with you on the first few paragraphs. Maybe it's because I'm a dude and we're generally less inclined to like the romantic stuff but mostly, I think, it's because a show that starts out as a comedy with bang-jokes and at some point just starts being a romance with the occasional joke simply loses credibility and those viewers who saw the romance in the first seasons as just enough.
    These last years, HIMYM has been trying way too hard to be a dramedy instead of a comedy, which I was expecting - and wanting - to be watching.
    Still, you care about the characters and I find The Mother to be awesomely cast. Here's hoping they'll do at least a few more episodes à la "Slap Bet" that made this show so great in the first place. Just get the mother-meeting-business over with and make us laugh.

  • abdulay31 Sep 26, 2013

    The mother is perfect in the role as she is adorable & look good in the flash forward with Ted, the episode felt new with most of the shenanigans concentrating, its great the show has matured from silly gags and ridiculous plots that insults the audience.

    The next big obstacle is the Ted's first encounter with the mother which is crucial to satisfying the curiosity of audience.

  • littlebitliz Sep 25, 2013

    I really enjoyed the episode, but I'm also concerned about the wedding being dragged out. I mean, with the scenes for next week about the old people... it already seems to be going a little stale.

    What I hope is that Ted will meet the Mother fairly early in the season. I mean, he has to, right? So that, even though the wedding itself is only one weekend, we can get a good long while in real time to see them fall for each other. I feel like we need that after so many seasons just hearing about her.

  • SRJohansen Sep 25, 2013

    I've been one of those people screaming (not literally.... is the story I'm sticking to) that they should just introduce the mother already, and now they did, and ... it's a little bit better, and I actually enjoyed these two episodes.

    HOWEVER, no one knows how to drag out a good story and make it insufferable like the HIMYM people, so if this whole last season is going to be about this wedding, I will get right back into screaming mode. Just... no. When ever Bob Saget's voice says "but we'll get to that later" I want to rip my hair out.

    As for Milioti, she is good so far I guess? Not really giving me a solid impression, and she looks like the perfect cross between Lily and Robin, which is weird and cute at the same time. I think I liked her a lot because she's not one of the main 5 characters that have worn out their welcome with me. Something new? YES please.

    Anyway, I have stuck with this show for so long (and suffered, along the way) and so I intend to stay with it until the end. I am also happy that the writers decided to introduce the mother before the last episode. I would have HATED it if they just ended with "and then I met her, the end!" so kudos for that. Now let's hope for a good LAST season.....

  • iLoVeTv0022 Sep 25, 2013

    I loved it. Now that we have seen the mother we can skip forward through time the structure that we all loved can return. I'm so excited for this season and I already love our mother!

  • mrjimmyjames Sep 25, 2013

    Good start tonight. So far, I like the change in structure and concept; it feels different in a good way and is exciting. Second episode with Roger Bart was best though.

  • mrjimmyjames Sep 25, 2013

    Yeah, I think the concept of this season is crazy as well. I'm all for spending lots of time on the wedding. If you want to spend the first month or ten episodes on it, that's cool. But I think at some point you should start to flashforward. 24 episodes of a wedding weekend is nuts. There's going to be a lot of stretching.

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