'How I Met Your Mother': A suitacular episode
I feel like there should be virtual confetti at the beginning of this recap to celebrate the show's 100th episode. And what a fantastic 100th episode it was. “Mother” is always strongest when it's more than a joke. The best episodes are the ones that are not only funny but also find a way to move the story forward or give us an emotional slice of life that makes viewers feel like they're watching their friends, not a TV show. “Girls vs. Suits” was very much that. There were a couple of big things going on, so let's break it down into parts.
Are you my mother?: Rachel Bilson is not the mother! Her character, PhD candidate Cindy, first catches Ted's (Josh Radnor) eye on campus as Future Ted says, “Kids, you never know when you're about to meet someone really important.” Cindy may not be the mother, but she is important. Ted comes over to her place for a date and picks up a school bus, which also resides behind his kids in 2030. Then Cindy comes in and tells Ted the bus belongs to ... her roommate! I was a little surprised that the show told us so early in the episode that the mother is Cindy's roommate, but it made for great comedy as Cindy went on and on about how horrible her roommate is (“She's a whore. I think she's a dominatrix.”), while Ted pretended that she didn't sound completely awesome. Turns out Cindy has a roommate complex because everyone falls in love with the roommate. Here's an idea: Why doesn't she move out? It's too late for her to save Ted for herself – he's already been charmed by the roommate's taste in books and music, as well as the fact she plays bass in a band – but she might want to consider it before she becomes the crazy roommate.
So let's recap what we know about Ted's future wife. She lives with Cindy and is also a student in Econ 305, which means she can't date Ted, according to the university rules. But depending on when we meet the mother, she could be well out of school by then. She and Ted have similar taste in books and music. She also has feet! When I spoke to creators Carter Bays, Craig Thomas and director Pamela Fryman at the Paley Center's panel for the show's 100th episode, I asked them what they were most excited for viewers to see and how much viewers should read into the foot that Ted glimpsed. Naturally, they gave me a very amusing reply:
Bays: “There's a certain foot I think we're excited for everyone to see. I think America has earned that foot.”
Fryman: “And some dancing feet.”
Thomas: “Basically, lots of feet. It's a feetriffic episode. I would say now we know the mom has very nice feet. They're very pretty. It's definitely a woman, so that's nice. No tattoos.”
Bays: “A pedicure? I didn't get a really good look at the pedicure.”
Thomas: “No stray hairs. It's a shaved leg, so it's keeping things neat.”
Bays: “It'd be funny if it was a hoof. If we made it a hoof.”Thomas: “Or a peg leg? Maybe she's a pirate. A loud peg leg creaking on the floorboards.”
So there you have it, folks. The mother is well-groomed and not a pirate.
For the love of women and suits: While Ted is chasing after Cindy, Barney's (Neil Patrick Harris) chasing after a hot, female bartender (Stacy Keibler) who has attracted a gaggle of guys to MacLaren's.
“The sidewalk's going to smell like pee pee now,” Lily (Alyson Hannigan) whines. Priceless.
Robin (Cobie Smulders) doesn't think she's hot – bartender complex? – but I have to agree with Lily here. Keibler looks amazing. Lily even admits that she popped into her head a couple of times last night. Between that and her constant references to Robin's hotness and fluid sexuality, I'm beginning to think Lily is a little gay, not Marshall (Jason Segel), who refuses to admit the bartender is hotter than Lily. But don't worry, Robin, you're still my favorite because not only are you hot, you're also hilarious. How great was Smulders behind the bar, hair flying in the wind fan as Poison's “She's My Cherry Pie” played? She was even greater when she got pulled out from behind the bar.
“I was somebody back there,” she says, trying to claw her way back. “Everybody loved me.”
Love and adoration is fleeting. Just ask Robin Sparkles.
Barney is so desperate to score with the hot bartender that he even gives up wearing his beloved suits. Keibler's character is not too keen on suit-wearing, Wall Street types, sending Barney into suit withdrawal. They haunt him, calling out to him in a whisper to suit up. He makes it to the bedroom with her, but she finds his closet full of suits and forces him to choose between the suits and her, which leads us to...
Happy feet: A big musical number featuring Barney on lead vocals and the rest of the “HIMYM” gang and 65-plus dancers backing him up! I admit the number was a little meta. I felt like I was watching Harris, not Barney, singing and dancing. But you know what? Who cares because it was fantastic. It's no secret that Harris' singing voice kills me in the best way possible. I got a little extra gooey when he hung onto that lamppost and sang, “It's a truth you can't refuuute.” Let's just hold that note forever and die happy.
Continuing the meta-ness, Barney gave a fashion makeover to a dog, a baby, a mutton-chopped dude and a crossing guard with a zap of his hands as if Harris had suddenly turned into his “Dr. Horrible” character and been transported into the opening of “What Not to Wear.”
I liked that it was clearly obvious that the cast was dancing on a studio lot. It helped give it the feel of an old musical. My only complaint is that Robin, Lily and the other female backup dancers had to wear those really ill-fitting men's suits. Couldn't they have gotten some sexy, tailored women's suits like the one Robin wore when she suited up for a bros night with Barney?
Readers, what did you think of the big musical number? Who do you think should play the well-groomed, not-a-pirate mother? Are you happy or upset that it's not Bilson (it's time to come back to TV full time, Ms. Bilson. Someone get this gal her own show!)?
– Vlada Gelman (follow my TV musings on Twitter at @stayingin)
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Photo: Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) puts his love for suits into song. Credit: Cliff Lipson/CBS.