This episode gets back to HIMYM basics—we're given that opening line about Life's Big Days and transported in time "a little bit down the road" to Ted sitting in a church garden in a tux, being consoled by Marshall and a beer about his nerves. We cut back to the present (or the end of "the season of exposed skin," according to Barney) to find Ted working up the courage to talk to the pretty blonde sitting alone at the bar reading Brideshead Revisited. The normal hi-jinks ensue: Barney calls dibs on the blonde, Robin, looking cartoonishly homeless after her breakup with Don, insists that the girl must be waiting for a date to arrive, and ultimately Cindy drops by to hang out with the blonde, thereby ruining Ted's chances of talking to her. Yes, Cindy, only memorable to us viewers because of two things: she's played by Rachel Bilson (a somehow ubiquitous actress in spite of her limited roles) and because we were told that she was the roommate of Ted's future wife.
With that, we believe that, yes, the blonde is Ted's future wife. She must be! The story was juxtaposed with a nervous Ted at a wedding! His wedding!
Alas, it isn't the case. The blonde turns out to be Cindy's girlfriend, and Ted is just the best man at the mystery wedding (Barney and Robin?), nervous about his toast. And to think, I really thought we were going to be able to declare that "last night, Ted met their mother." As I mentioned last season, the misleading story arcs and forced suspense of the big reveal are getting a bit stale. This nod to the show's classic formula was a fine way to start the season, but I hope the rest of the rest of the episodes devote less screen time to advancing semi-serious plots (Marshall and Lily's inability to conceive? Hilarious?) and continuing to force the audience to ask the "is she or isn't she?" question, and more time focusing on the comedy. The sitcoms people remember as classics are the ones with episodes that stand strong on their own, regardless of multi-episode plot lines. How I Met Your Mother would benefit from reminding itself of that.
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