Archive for the 'Movie and TV Talk' Category

28
Sep
13

Blake’s Weekly(ish) Update

It’s been a few weeks since my last “weekly” update, hasn’t it, guys? Sorry about that, it’s been a rough couple of weeks. But here’s a roundup of everything I’ve put out in the universe for you guys since the last time I did a recap.

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24
Sep
13

I Am Ted Mosby (or) Why How I Met Your Mother needed a ninth season

HIMYM9“You’re not a Ted,” my fiance, Erin, told me Monday night. “You’re more of a Marshall, with a little Barney mixed in.”

She means this as a compliment, of course, and I take it as such, but that doesn’t mean I necessarily agree. She goes on to explain that, over the course of the eight years we’ve known him, How I Met Your Mother‘s Ted Mosby has been a jerk several times — spending years pining over a girl that has made it clear she does not feel the same way, making a complete ass of himself in the pursuit of others, often neglecting his friends or even turning on them in the process, and most noticeably, whining, whining, whining… Oh sure, as HIMYM viewers we’re still rooting for him, but like a lot of shows, the ostensible protagonist of How I Met Your Mother is often the least interesting character.

And she’s right, she’s right about all of this. But even though Erin knows me better than anyone in the world, the truth is, she has only ever known me as part of a couple. She knows the Blake that is complete because of her presence, not the one who spent years feeling empty for the lack thereof. Like Ted, I often deluded myself about the chances of success with whoever I was infatuated with at the time. Like Ted I could be whiny, even obnoxious. Fortunately for me, like Ted, I have a group of heroically loyal and supportive friends who never abandoned me no matter how bad I got. (Thanks guys… sorry about that.)

Erin says I’m a Marshall, and that may well be true… now. But what she has never seen is that Blake minus Erin equals Ted.

And it is because of this, I think, that I remain steadfast in my enthusiasm to finally see Ted Mosby find the Mother of his children.

Last night began the ninth and final season of How I Met Your Mother, and from the outset it is clear this will be very different from the previous eight. First of all, the entire season is going to be set during the three days of Robin and Barney’s wedding weekend… the “present day” timeframe, at any rate. The show has always played fast and loose with time, allowing for flashbacks and flashforwards at will to let us glimpse the lives of our heroes as a puzzle being put together one piece at a time. Still, by condensing the entire “present” into a 56-hour period, the show has a sense of urgency that’s rare in a sitcom.

Of greater importance, though, is the fact that the series, for the first time since its inception, has made an addition to the regular cast: Cristin Milioti as the still-unnamed Mother. We glimpsed her for the first time in the closing moments of season eight, and she’s signed as a series regular for season nine. This is vital to the new show we have this year. While the first eight seasons were ultimately about Ted, season nine must be about Her.

When it was announced that HIMYM would get a ninth season, halfway through an eighth most people (myself included) assumed would be the final lap, the question arose: why are they making a ninth season  at all? Season eight brought us right to the brink of Ted meeting the mother. Why not just work it into a massive wedding finale and be done with it? What is season nine going to give us that we couldn’t have had otherwise?

Last night, we got our answer. The first half of the episode showed the Mother’s initial encounter with one of Ted’s group when she bonded with Lily on their train ride to Farhampton. We saw the chemistry she had with someone we already loved and learned a few things about her that start to paint the picture of a woman tailor-made for Ted Mosby. In the second half, a show that is already famous for how it plays with time found a new way to do it, overlaying a scene of a solitary “present-day” Ted with a flashforward of him with the Mother one year into the future. The contrast is striking — a quiet, lonely man trying to convince himself he’s not any of those particular adjectives, compared to the same man just one year later, complete, joyful, and whole perhaps for the first time in the show’s history.

The experience of watching it, I imagine, is not unlike that of one of my friends who saw me before and after I met Erin.

When you start dating someone, there is always a process of “selling” them to your friends and family. With Erin it was an easy sell, because she’s awesome and my friends are not stupid, but the process is there nonetheless. You show how great the person is, how lucky you feel and — most satisfying to those who care about you — how happy you are together. That’s the prize for those friends who stood with you through the lonely years: the joy on your face when those years are over. But how do you do that when the implied ending of the show, from the outset, is meeting Her, before we actually get to the payoff?

And that, my friends, is what we need the ninth season for. It’s to sell us on Her. The show will almost certainly end with Ted meeting Her at that fateful train station, but we need to somehow see the aftermath, the scenes of a broken man finally put back together, that happiness that we’ve waited on for such a long time. Through a mixture of Her interaction with the rest of the cast and glimpses and allusions to the future Ted and the Mother will have together, the ninth season is here to prove to us that She has been worth the wait.

And judging just from the few scenes we’ve glimpsed of the Mother so far (Cristin Miglioti is flawlessly charming, sweet, and as dorky as Ted in all the right ways), I feel like we’re going to be sold pretty easily.

In a way, I’m upset to see it end. This is without a doubt the most heartfelt, emotionally sincere television comedy on the air, and while there are other shows I like, there is nothing else on right now that makes me feel for, care about, and root for the characters the way How I Met Your Mother has done for so long. After the final scenes, the final flashforward, the final lonesome moment of Ted Mosby’s life has come and gone, there will be a gaping hole in the television landscape. Something will eventually come along to fill the gap, something always does, but to take the place of this show is going to take something… well, there’s only one word for it… legendary.

31
Aug
13

Weekly Roundup: Batfleck and Robin Hood

It was a big week for nerd culture and a big week at Reel to Reel movies. Here’s what I put out into the world this week…

10
Aug
13

Blake’s weekly roundup: Wolverine meets the Puppet Master (but not really)

I went back to work this week after a nice summer of wedding planning and being eaten by a giant plant. However, that didn’t leave me with an awful lot of time to turn out content for you guys. But I still managed a little. Here’s what I did last week that’s currently available for your consumption…

  • There was a superhero movie double feature review as Kenny and I discussed The Wolverine and Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox in All New Showcase at the Movies Episode 37.
  • Reel to Reel’s “Crappy Movie Roulette” feature led to me reviewing the 1989 slasher flick Puppet Master.
  • Aaaaand… that’s about it. Sorry there wasn’t more guys, hopefully I’ll be able to turn out a little something extra this week.
14
May
13

How We Met The Mother

Spoiler Warning: I’m about to talk extensively about the season 8 finale of How I Met Your Mother, so if you haven’t seen it yet and want to remain-spoiler free, don’t read the rest of this post. Also avoid Facebook, Reddit, Imgur, IMDB, McClaren’s Bar, and Shoney’s. That last one has nothing to do with HIMYM, I just don’t like Shoney’s.

In the season 8 finale, after literally years of buildup, we’ve reached an apex of sorts. We end the episode 56 hours before the wedding of Barney Stintson and Robin Sherbatsky, and all of our heroes are at something of a crossroads. Barney and Robin, of course, are about to get married. Lily is preparing to leave New York City for a year to take a job in Rome. She doesn’t know, though, that her husband Marshall has been accepted for the judge’s position he applied for long before the Rome gig was even in the picture, nor does she know that (if the “your honor” Marshall’s brother tossed at him at the end is any indication) he’s accepting the job. And the “I” in How I Met Your Mother, Ted Mosby, is at the cusp of the biggest decision of his life. Still hung up on Robin but unwilling to disrupt the marriage of his best friend and the girl of his dreams, Ted is planning to move to Chicago after the wedding is over, something nobody knows except for Lily.

And as this all takes place, in the last seconds of the episode, we saw a new face — a pretty girl with a bass guitar and a yellow umbrella — walk up to a clerk in a train station and request a ticket to scenic Farhampton, location of Barney and Robin’s wedding.

First of all, let’s debunk some of the folks I hear trying to argue that maybe this actress, Cristin Milioti, is just another red herring, that she’s not the mother at all. Frankly, if that was true it would be the cruelest tease this already tease-heavy show had ever pulled. She fits every single bit of evidence about the mother that we’ve been given so far: that she and Ted will meet at the wedding, that she will be the bass player in the wedding band, that she carries a yellow umbrella, and most importantly, that the show’s creators confirmed in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that she is, in fact, the friggin’ mother.

That said, many of the fans have had reactions on rather different sides of the spectrum. On the one hand, there’s the “that’s it?” crowd, the ones who expected to see her face and have the clouds open up and light shine down from the Heavens and everything suddenly become clear and perfect and music to play and the Israeli and Palestinians to lay down their arms and DirecTV and AMC to finally come to an arrangement that would allow them to show Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead and for everyone in the world to suddenly find room in their hearts to tolerate lactose and me to find the button I lost off that shirt last week. On the other side, we have the fans who are screaming, “We know who the mother is!” and running around having pillow fights and popping champagne corks and writing their acceptance speeches for “best internet meme ever” and poking each other in the bellies and giggling like the Pillsbury Doughboy.

And to those people who belong to either of these categories, my message is the same:

For the love of God, you people are still completely missing the point.

For those of you who were expecting a life-changing revelation, why? As I pointed out months ago, the revelation of the mother isn’t actually what this series is about. The story, from day one, has been about the events in Ted Mosby’s life that led to him –both physically and emotionally — being in a place where he could find his true soulmate. I must admit, I’ve been slightly annoyed with the last several episodes as they seemed to be backsliding — yet again — to the Ted/Robin connection that we’ve known since the first episode of the series would never pan out. It felt far too much like we were retreading familiar ground and not really progressing the characters emotionally. The season finale changed my mind about that, though. At this point, the impression I get is that we’ve finally brought Ted to rock-bottom. He’s fallen as far as he possibly can — he’s about to unravel his entire life just to get away from the situation that’s caused him so much pain. And strictly from a narrative standpoint, you need to get the character to that low point if you really want the climb back into the light to be satisfying. I hope that’s what we’ll see in season 9. But more about that in a minute.

For the people shouting with joy because — and I quote — “we know who the mother is,” I’ve got something to point out to you. No. You don’t. You don’t know squat about the mother, at least nothing you didn’t already know about her prior to last night’s episode — she’s Cindy’s ex-roommate, she plays bass in a band, she carries a yellow umbrella. The only thing you know about Mom that you didn’t know before the season finale is what she looks like, and frankly, that’s the least important thing about her. No disrespect intended to Cristin Milioti, she seems cute as a button, but what she looks like isn’t nearly as important as what kind of person she is, what her hopes and goals are, what eventually led to her playing the wedding… hell, what her name is. That moment where we finally got to see her face was a satisfying moment, but not because it was revelatory (as the people in Group A expected), but because it’s a symbolic promise of a final season that will draw this story to a close.

And as for that final season, let’s talk about that for a moment. Craig Thomas and Carter Bays, the show’s creators, have made it clear that the narrative structure of the final season is going to be different from the previous eight. They declined, of course, to explain just how it would be different, but I think they gave us the clue in the final moments of the finale. As the episode drew to a close, before a montage of where each of our characters was and the flash of Mom at the train station, we got a title card that read “56 hours before the wedding.” I think it’s possible — maybe even likely — that the final season of this series may actually go for an almost realtime structure, using the whole season to tell the story of Robin and Barney’s wedding weekend. (It won’t be exactly realtime, that would require 112 episodes as opposed to the standard 22, and that would be insane, but it may be close enough.)

Could there possibly be enough in those 56 hours to encompass 11 hours of television, give or take time for commercials or any double-length episodes they decide to drop in the mix? Maybe. There’s an awful lot going on with each of our five stars, and it certainly seems like Milioti is going to be at least a semi-regular character in the ninth season, not somebody we’ve gotten a glimpse of now only for her to fall away until the final episode. What’s more, this series has never shied away from non-linear storytelling. Flashbacks and flash-forwards in the story have been common from the beginning, and may be even more so in this final run. It would be too much, I think, for Ted and Mom’s fateful encounter at the train station following the wedding to actually wait until the final episode… that is, unless the rest of the season includes glimpses of them together in the future. That’s what we need at this point — we need to see Ted with his wife, we need to believe that their love can wipe out all of the pain and frustration Ted’s gone through in the past eight seasons. We need to recognize in this girl somebody who can make Ted Mosby forget about Robin Sherbatsky once and for all, yet still remain a part of her and Barney’s life (his kids call them “Aunt Robin” and “Uncle Barney,” hardly likely if these were friends who he walked away from before they were even born).

This, I think, is what we need. This, I think, is where the last season of How I Met Your Mother needs to take us.

If there’s anything else we can count on, I think it’s this: in the last episode, when Ted finally finishes telling the story to his kids, when we as the audience have finally reached the final emotional satisfaction of nearly a decade of storytelling, we’ll see Luke and Leia calmly get up off the couch and wander off, unimpressed by Dad’s long story, because that reaction out of a pair of teenagers would be the most emotionally honest ending of them all.

UPDATE: Looks like Bays and Thomas aren’t done giving interviews, and this one seems to indicate some of my thoughts about the season nine format are pretty much on the money…

http://www.ign.com/articles/2013/05/14/how-i-met-your-mother-season-9-plans-the-final-season-will-take-place-over-one-weekend

 

09
Mar
13

If all you know of Oz is Judy Garland…

Oz-poster1I’m pretty excited, I admit, for Disney’s new film Oz the Great and Powerful. I’ll be catching it tonight with some friends and, no doubt, I will have plenty to say about it. However, before I go into the film, there are a few folks online I feel the need to address. Every time somebody tries to touch upon the land of Oz at all, it seems, there are some people who crawl out of the woodwork and start complaining about how the filmmakers (or writers or artists or whatnot) are not “respecting the original,” by which they invariably mean the 1939 Judy Garland film. They complain about hints of darkness, more frightening monsters, new characters and environments that somehow don’t fit their vision of what Oz should be. And to those people, while you are certainly entitled to your opinion, I would like to make a friendly suggestion:

Read a book.

MGM Studios did not create Oz, people. The Land of Oz first appeared some 39 years earlier in the novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. Baum wrote 14 other Oz books (13 novels and a collection of short stories), and then other writers took his place after his death, stretching the “official” Oz canon to 40 novels before it finally came to a halt in 1963 with Merry Go Round in Oz. After that, the earlier novels began to lapse into public domain, and since that time hundreds — actually, probably thousands — of writers, artists, actors, songwriters, and creators of all types have joined in the fray to create their unique visions of Oz.

As magnificent a film as the 1939 Wizard of Oz is, as perfect as the music is, as brilliant the color and visual appeal of the film, here’s something people just don’t admit often enough: it’s not really a very good adaptation of Baum’s work. The tone is very different, many key sequences are omitted, and other things are changed for various reasons. There is, in fact, only one thing I would argue the MGM film does better than the Baum original, and that’s increasing the role of the Wicked Witch. Baum’s biggest weakness as a storyteller (I say as someone who has read all of his Oz novels and several of his non-Oz books) comes in his antagonists. Many of the Oz books are just a group of characters (often, but not always including Dorothy and her friends) stumbling from one adventure to another with little motivation except to get where they’re going (often, but not always, the Emerald City). The villains are often an afterthought, and rarely truly terrifying, with the one exception of Roquat, the Nome King. Margaret Hamilton’s version of the witch was not only iconic, but a vast improvement over the relatively minor character she was in the original novel. But it still wasn’t the “original,” as so many people say.

Hell, if we’re going to get technical, the Judy Garland film isn’t even the original movie version of Oz — there were several silent films in earlier years, including some written and directed by L. Frank Baum himself, that depicted a vision of the land of Oz that’s very different from the world most people today are familiar with.

But for all of the changes and alterations between the film and the novel, I’m okay with that. You see, there are basically two schools of thought when it comes to creating new Oz stories. There are the creators who try to remain as faithful as possible to Baum’s universe, giving us new adventures in a world that feels like it could seamlessly fit with that Baum created. These books exist to expand upon Baum, giving us new characters and locations, but also presenting new adventures of our old friends like Ozma of Oz, the Hungry Tiger, the Sawhorse, Tik-Tok, Jack Pumpkinhead, Billina the Yellow Hen, the Shaggy Man, Polychrome, Professor H.M. Wogglebug, T.E….

Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz 1Little Adventures in Oz Vol 2aSorry, you were all thinking of Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodsman and the Cowardly Lion, weren’t you? They’re in there too, don’t worry, but even Baum went far beyond those four characters. And in books and comics like these, we see all of them in stories that feel like they belong with the original “Famous Forty” books of old. Eric Shanower, for example, creates novels and comic books in Baum’s world, sometimes alone, sometimes illustrating the work of other writers like Edward Einhorn. More recently, Shanower has been adapting the original Oz novels into comic books for Marvel, with magnificent artwork by Skottie Young (to the left of the above image), which doesn’t fit the original art as well as Shanower’s own (shown to the right), but is a beautiful vision of Oz nonetheless.

Oz_Reimagined_Final_Front_CoverThen there is a second school of thought, one which has become increasingly popular in recent years. These creators take Baum’s framework as their inspiration, but turn out a work that is unique and incompatible with the official Oz canon. Gregory Maguire’s novel Wicked is probably the most famous example, at least since it became the basis for a smash hit Broadway play. Then there’s Angelo Tirotto and Richard Jordan’s No Place Like Home from Image Comics, which recasts the elements of Oz into an intriguing horror story. Big Dog Ink. has given us The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West, which mixes Baum’s universe into a dark western realm that reminds me increasingly of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series (which, itself, plays on Oz imagery at several points in the story). A few years ago SyFy gave us the miniseries Tin Man (more of a sci-fi take) and just weeks ago some enterprising writers came out with the book Oz Reimagined, in which 15 contemporary science fiction and fantasy authors each created a new short story based on their own personal visions of Oz. (The book is available in paperback, or each individual story as a $1.99 “single” for Amazon’s Kindle device.)

Some of the creators in this group even go so far as to meld Oz with worlds of their own creation. Stephen King I’ve already mentioned, but one of the Oz Reimagined shorts takes place in the Oz simulation of Tad Williams’s Otherworld science fiction novels. Bill Willingham has incorporated the characters into his Fables comic books, and we’ve seen visions of Oz mixed up with such diverse casts as the Muppets, Tom and Jerry, the Veggietales gang, the Justice League, and several stories that have mixed together the denizens of Oz with the characters of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking-Glass books.

Wicked MusicalAnd the thing is, there’s plenty of room for both schools of thought. I love seeing what new creators can bring to Baum’s world (you may even remember my review of Einhorn and Shanower’s Paradox in Oz from a few years ago). I also love seeing what the likes of Maguire and Tirotto and countless others can create from the mythology Baum gave us. Oz is a world that’s simply too big for there to be any one version of it, that’s part of the magic. That’s one of the things I love about it.

Now if I come back and I think Oz the Great and Powerful stinks, I’ll admit it. I’ll tell you everything I think is wrong with it. But if that is the case I can promise you this much: it won’t be because director Sam Raimi dared diverge from the world Judy Garland landed in.

But if it is good… the hopes for a new Oz renaissance is thrilling to me. More visions, more images of Oz… yes, a lot of it will be sad, tired drek, but that’s true of any cultural movement. I’d rather see people try and fail to live in the world of L. Frank Baum than give us another Twilight rip-off (or worse yet, another Fifty Shades of Grey). And if Disney goes ahead with the sequel they’ve already proposed, even before the film opened yesterday, even better. In fact, I hope they’ve got the guts to go all the way and do an adaptation of the original novel in their land of Oz — an adaptation which, from everything I’ve seen so far, would probably be more faithful to Baum than the Oz Judy walked through 74 years ago.

There’s plenty of Oz out there already. Try a little more of it, then get back to me. You may get lost, of course, but that happens in Oz from time to time. It’s okay. Ultimately, all you’ll need to do is click together the heels of your Silver Shoes and repeat to yourself, “There’s no place like home…”

And thus I leave you with one more point, a visual this time… just a few of the many, magnificent, valiant, viable visions of Oz.

15
Jan
13

“How I Met Your Mother” – take the title literally

How I Met Your Mother Season 7As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a big fan of the show How I Met Your Mother. And following the last few episodes, I’ve seen a lot of speculation online about the show… with next year’s season nine pretty much confirmed to be the final season and the second half of season eight already bringing us tantalizingly close to the actual meeting of Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) and “The Mother,” there’s a lot of chatter going on about who the titular Mother is. And while that’s by no means unimportant, I don’t think it’s as important as some of the other factors at play here. Things like the Mother’s job, her background, even her name are only important in how they play into the story of Ted Mosby.

So here’s your spoiler warning. I’m about to talk about specific plot points up to and including the January 14th episode. If you’re not caught up, you may not want to read.

Too many people are concerned about who the Mother is. They approach the story like it’s a murder mystery, trying to use each clue as it’s revealed to narrow down the field of suspects and find the Mother before Ted does. There’s a problem with this approach, though. Unless both the producers of the show and the show’s narrator (Ted himself in the year 2030) have constantly lied to us from the very beginning, the Mother is not someone we have ever met. We can’t narrow down the field because the list of potential mothers includes virtually any woman on Earth who has not previously appeared on the show.

Well, that’s not strictly true. Seven and a half seasons in, we actually know several specific things about the mother. But true to form, those details don’t actually point us towards a specific person, but rather to the circumstances of Ted meeting her. The genius of the show is that each fact we learn about her explains why one (or more) of the series’s many side-stories, subplots or tangents are not actually side-stories, subplots or tangents after all, but actually are integral to explaining just how the complicated tapestry of Ted Mosby’s life finally leads him to his true love. Let’s look as a few of the things we know about the Mother and Ted’s encounters with her, and how those clues actually point backwards rather than forwards.

  • In the episode “Definitions” (Season Five, Episode One) we learn that the Mother was a student in the first class Ted taught when he became a professor at Columbia University. However, on that first day he went to the wrong classroom – he was giving his opening day spiel to a class of economics students rather than his architecture class. While he no doubt couldn’t pick out his future wife in the auditorium of students, she would most certainly remember the strange young professor who boldly humiliated himself teaching the wrong subject. This justifies the season four story arc in which Ted almost marries Stella (Sarah Chalke). If not for their relationship Stella wouldn’t have reconciled with her ex, who then got Ted the professor job out of guilt, and therefore the Mother wouldn’t have seen Ted that day. I would be very surprised if this isn’t referenced when the two of them finally, officially meet.
  • In “Girls Vs. Suits” (Season Five, Episode Twelve) Ted dates a woman named Cindy (Rachel Bilson). Their relationship crumbles when Ted finds that all of the stuff in her apartment that he actually finds appealing belongs to Cindy’s roommate, and Future Ted reveals that Cindy’s Roommate is, in fact, The Mother (although at that point he does not actually meet her). Interesting information, to be certain, but considering how many one-episode girlfriends Ted has had, it doesn’t appear to be particularly significant at the time. As of this week’s episode, however, that is no longer the case. But we’ll get to that.
  • In “Big Days” (Season Six, Episode One) we learn that Ted will meet the Mother at a wedding, in which he is the best man. Important, but not enough of a clue to build on, except that it turns a storyline from later in the season — in which Ted is best man for his old high school buddy Punchy (Chris Romanski) — into a red herring… because it isn’t Punchy’s wedding after all.
  • In “Challenge Accepted” (Season Six, Episode Twenty-Four) we learn that Ted will meet the Mother when he’s the best man at Barney’s wedding. Now we know why so many of the Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) stories, going all the way back to season one, matter to the arc. It’s important we know that Ted is Barney’s “best bro in the world.”
  • In “The Magician’s Code Part Two” (Season Seven, Episode Twenty-Four) we learn that Ted will meet the Mother when he’s the best man at Barney’s wedding…  to Robin. This is probably the biggest, most important bomb dropped on us yet. The HIMYM story begins, in the pilot episode, when Ted Mosby meets Robin Scherbatsky (Cobie Smulders), because he literally would not have met his wife if he wasn’t at Robin’s wedding. This explains the significance of huge swaths of the show, including all the stories about Ted and Robin’s relationship, Robin and Barney’s relationship, and even those stories about Ted and Victoria (Ashley Williams), an early Mother candidate whose path with Ted was derailed twice because of Robin. (It’s okay. Victoria turns out to be Beinaheleidenschaftsgegenstand anyway.)
  • In this week’s episode, “Band or DJ?” (Season Eight, Episode Thirteen), we learn the Mother will be the bass player in Barney and Robin’s wedding band. She gets the job because the first band they book will cancel just a week ahead of time. Disaster, until Ted just happens to run into Cindy again, who tells him that her old roommate’s band is available for that weekend.

I could go on, but the point is that none of these things are about the Mother’s identity as much as they are about how all the dominos of Ted’s life were arranged to get him – both emotionally and literally – in the right place at the right time to meet her.

The Mother’s name? Where she grew up? How long she and Ted will date before they get married? If that’s what you’re focusing on, you’re going to be disappointed, because the narrative structure of the story isn’t pointing towards these things as being part of the Big Payoff. Even the actress who ultimately gets the role is largely irrelevant, as long as she’s talented and has chemistry with the rest of the cast.

The emotional core we’ve been building towards for eight years now has not pointed to the revelation of any specific cast member. We’ve only encountered the Mother, whoever she is, in fleeting glimpses here and there. Structurally, this show has more in common with Se7en than an Agatha Christie mystery: the final character reveal is not nearly as important as what happens to our hero as he searches for that character. The emotional punch at the end of HIMYM isn’t going to be seeing Kevin Spacey’s face, it’s going to be finding out what’s in the box.

And that box, by the way, is where the writers have wiggle room for season nine, even if the meeting is at the end of season eight. Even once they meet, that doesn’t mean the story ends right there. Maybe she’s going out of town for a year and Ted doesn’t know (at that point) if he’ll ever see her again. Maybe he’ll do something outrageously stupid and have to find a way to win her back. Maybe any of a dozen obstacles will pop up that will allow us to end season nine, and the series, with a final emotional jolt equal to that of “The Final Page” (Season Eight, Episode Twelve), even if we’ve already known exactly who the mother is for a whole season at that point.

And that’ll be okay.

Because remember, the show isn’t called Who’s Your Mama? It’s called How I Met Your Mother.




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