In a clever, old-school episode told almost entirely in flashback to some time before Barney proposed to Robin last season, The Mother crosses paths with the then bachelor and sets him on the right path.
It all begins when Robin and Lily realize that all of Barney’s challenges are of his own choosing, so they start issuing some ridiculously hilarious ones for him — like picking up a girl while talking like a dolphin, or wearing a garbage bag and not using the letter “E.” When Barney succeeds at what seem like impossible tasks, Robin tells a girl at the bar that Ryan Gosling is interested in her, but he’ll leave if he sees her with another guy. So when Barney approaches, the redhead yells for him to go away – until Barney pretends to be Gosling. (He’s a very Method actor who got plastic surgery, is how he explains the physical discrepancy.) Fed up, Robin and Lily challenge Barney to basically run some errands while picking up a girl.
And that girl at the store turns out to be The Mother. But before you can even start worrying that Barney may have hooked up with Ted’s future wife, she rejects him and calls him out on his sadness.
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“It’s going to be OK. You’re a good guy. You’re going to get through this,” she offers. When Barney follows her to ask why she thinks he’s sad, she replies, “I think you were in love and you messed it up.” Now, he’s just staying busy, hitting on random girls to ignore that fact.
And boy, she hit the nail right on the head. Barney confesses that he regrets giving up on Robin so easily.
“Do you want to keep playing or do you want to win?” she asks him. To which Barney replies, “I want to win!”
Meanwhile, Marshall is still Team Ted/Robin and is trying to convince his pal there’s a chance for the two of them. Ted admits he has thought about how he would ask her to give them another shot – it involves the blue French horn – but he already knows she’s not interested and doesn’t want to feel her rejection, again. Still, Marshall insists that Robin changes her mind about things, and when Ted spots her eating olives, we get a flash to the pilot when she said she hates them. She changed her mind, so Ted changes his mind and rejects a job offer from his old boss (played again by Bryan Cranston).
“I still have things to do here in New York,” he explains. Yet he doesn’t go after Robin right away because, as he says to Marshall, “It happens when it happens. What’s the rush?”
Unbeknownst to him, Barney, coming off his fateful meeting with The Mother, is crafting The Robin. And back in the present, Robin tells Barney he has completed his challenge of getting her to fall in love with him, as a forlorn Ted looks on.
HIMYM fans, what did you think of this episode? Does it warm your heart that The Mother is partly responsible for bringing together Barney and Robin and, inadvertently, freeing up Ted for herself?
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