You've met The Mother and now you'll finally get to know her.
How I Met Your Mother's 200th episode (Monday, 8/7c, CBS), titled "How Your Mother Met Me," will be told from The Mother's (Cristin Milioti) perspective, as she recounts the last eight and a half years of her life before she met Ted (Josh Radnor) — so much so that the show even redid its opening credits to feature Mrs. Mosby.
"They've showed Ted for 200 episodes, so the least they could do is give her one!" Radnor tells TVGuide.com. "You learn a lot about what her journey's been like. It's really fantastic."
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An alternative trip down memory lane, the milestone episode will hit all the key moments of Ted and The Mother's close calls, including him (mistakenly) lecturing her economics class, that rainy St. Patrick's Day party where Ted picked up her famous yellow umbrella, and the night Ted visited her roommate Cindy (Rachel Bilson) and caught a glimpse of The Mother's foot. The show even recreated a "little piece" of the pilot and used some "fun trickery" to incorporate The Mother into past scenes, executive producer Carter Bays told reporters on set at the show's Television Critics Association winter previews event.
"It's a fun little Disneyland tour through the series from the perspective of someone outside the group," he says. "We tried to not just make it like playing bingo, like, 'We gotta do that and we gotta do that.' It's kind of its own little short film ... and we could not have done this with any other actress. Cristin's been amazing. It feels like a pilot for a totally different show. ... I don't want to oversell this episode too much, but it gets me when I think about it."
Adds Milioti: "It unfolds so organically and beautifully that it'll be a treat for fans who've watched the show [since the beginning] when they see how many parallels there are. I think it's so special. You will not be disappointed."
While HIMYM's 100th episode was a surreal, bombastic celebration, centered around Barney's (Neil Patrick Harris) "Nothing Suits Me Like a Suit" musical number, Bays and co-executive producer Craig Thomas made a conscious choice to ground the 200th episode in the show's mythology. "We really wanted to focus on the story," Thomas says. "We were lucky enough to come back for this last season and to be able to tell a complete love story of these two people, now from her point of view, for the fans, it's unbelievable. We're very excited and proud of it. It's a very emotional episode. I think fans will really like it."
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Or at the very least, they'll be happy with so much screen time for The Mother. ("You might be sick of me after this," Milioti jokes.) After years of complaining about the long wait to meet The Mother, many fans were disappointed earlier this season with the lack of appearances by Milioti, who's a series regular. Bays and Thomas acknowledge it's been hard not only setting a whole season in one weekend, but to find ways to write in The Mother creatively that make sense.
"There's been pitfalls ... but it's been such a experience you give yourself challenges," Bays says. "That's why you get up in the morning, and it's been a fun challenge. ... The whole season's been a delight to do, but there's a few episodes like 'How Your Mother Met Me' that you just see the episode and think, 'This is why we're here one more year, just this right here.'"
Radnor and Milioti, for their part, say they had full faith in Bays and Thomas to pull off this atypical season in an already atypical sitcom. "They're geniuses at scrambling narrative and playing with time, so I knew that they're going to find endlessly inventive ways to do that," Radnor says. "When they told me there will be flash-forwards and flashbacks, I knew it would be fun. ... And what they came up with for [the 200th], it blows my mind."
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By the end of the episode, "a lot will be revealed and a lot of questions answered," Milioti promises, which will kick off the final eight episodes of the series, including the one-hour series finale.
"It's so weird and crazy to think about it. This is it," Thomas says. "We've kind of been putting off writing [the finale]. It's so hard. It's like you don't want to eat your last meal on Death Row. Once you're done with it... We want to savor it and extend it."
How I Met Your Mother airs Mondays at 8/7c on CBS.
(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS.)