Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Return of the Yellow Umbrella

Right Place, Right Time
How I Met Your Mother: Season 4, Episode 22

Bays and Thomas, the writers of HIMYM: why oh why do you taunt me? Ted leaves his apartment, carrying the fated yellow umbrella that we've been told will somehow lead him to the mother, and eventually waits on a street corner, where a woman taps him on the shoulder... and it's Stella. STELLA! I wanted to scream - NO! She CAN'T be the mother!!!

Now that the surprise has worn off at that unexpected "reunion" between old flames, I think I may have over-reacted.

It's all about fate and the decisions you make, Future Ted explains to his kids. The idea is reminiscent of previous (better) seasons, especially the episode about the "Lucky Penny," when a series of seemingly random occurrences leads Ted to miss his flight and, therefore, not get a job in Chicago - thankfully, otherwise he would have never have met the "mother."

Last night's episode was also full of seemingly unimportant decisions/incidents that lead Ted to the right street corner, at exactly the right time.

Decision #1: Upon leaving his apartment, Ted turns left, instead of right. He would have gone to his favorite bagel place, but that's where Robin got food poisoning, which led her to throw up into some very expensive hand-made purses.

Decision #2: Ted stops at a news-stand to look at a magazine and see who was the 199th... err, #200th woman that Barney slept with.

Previous to Ted's fateful walk in the city, Barney was about to go on a date with a supermodel to celebrate sleeping with 200 women. The entire gang is appalled at the number, but Barney says he did it because it's awesome... and to prove, to his 7th-grade bully, that he could.

But it turns out, according to Robin, the list is wrong. Desperate for the supermodel to not be #199, Barney has two hours to sleep with a woman. His quick-witted lies and attempts fail at McClaren's, so he's off to the gym, where a woman, who Barney claims isn't his "type" because of her muscly size, has been pursuing him. He returns to the bar, in pain - only to find out that Robin (still studiously pouring over the list) realized that Barney used the same number twice... so the gym gal, who posed for a magazine, was actually #200.

Decision #3: Ted takes a different route, so he can give $1 to a specific homeless guy. Why? Ted threw out all of Marshall's charts and graphs as part of Marshall's latest intervention, because Marshall became obsessed with making them (thanks to GNB graphics department). He has a pie chart showing which bars are his favorite; a bar graph showing which pies are his favorites. Unfortunately, Marshall actually needed some of his charts for work. A homeless guy demands a million dollars for the charts, since they're on his blanket, so Ted promises to give him a dollar a day.

And all of this bring us to Ted standing on the corner, under the yellow umbrella, when a hand reaches out to tap him on the shoulder. Stella. Sigh. Disappointment.

The way the writers play with time, mess with our heads, talk about fate and all the small choices we make - that's some of the many, many reasons I love this show. I'm glad to see these ideas returning, but... Stella? I still don't think she's the mother but after all that lead-up, including Ted imagining running back and hugging everyone who participated in his three decisions, I didn't expect her. But then again, I have faith in our writers. There's a reason, as Ted would say, that he ran into her that day.

For the first time in awhile, I got excited again about who the mother may be... but it was the ending tag that made my heart melt. Sitting in McClaren's, Barney tears up his list of women, asks "What now?" and gazes longingly at Robin standing at the bar. Aw!

Were you disappointed that it was Stella? Do you want to know who the Mother is? Do you miss Lily? (I do.) Did you like the reference to the "Intervention" episode? Did you enjoy the reasoning behind all of Ted's decisions? Share your thoughts!

Image source: http://www.fanpop.com/spots/how-i-met-your-mother/images/1227041


Kate Karyus Quinn said...

I actually thought it was kind of cool that it was Stella, and I definitely didn't see it coming since it really seemed like they had finished that story line. From a writing standpoint I understand why they did it.

If it was just a girl who Ted never met before there wouldn't be that many obstacles between them, but by making it Stella, who he shares a very complicated past with, they are ensuring lots of future drama to keep the show going.

Liz S said...

Yeah... I'm fine with it being Stella now. But at first, I was angry that they'd teased (yet again) about some important reveal about the mother and then there was... Stella. With a bit more hindsight, I do agree with you. It's a great writing move to draw out the story of the mother, while still giving us some hints as to how Ted ends up finding her; Stella is obviously an important piece of the story.