"I know you're tired of waiting. And you may have to wait a little while more, but she's on her way, Ted. And she's getting here as fast as she can." -StellaI'm in no rush -- especially now that my suspicions from last week have been confirmed: Stella isn't the Mother.
"As Fast As She Can" was in many ways the flip side to "Right Place Right Time." Where last week's episode kept looking for every excuse it could find to spend time on comedy with the supporting cast while pushing Ted's story to the background, this one focused almost entirely on Ted, with a mix of comedy (Ted being asked to design a murder room) and angst (any scene with Ted and Stella). And while I don't hate Ted the way some fans have grown to, he's much less compelling, and funny, than any of Barney, Marshall, or Robin.(*) Add to that the way Stella quickly became the most unpleasant character in the show's history, and the way that they wrote Jason Jones as if they had cast Ed Helms instead (they're two different people, right?), and you have an episode that's not one of my favorites from this season. Like I said last week, I've really lost any interest in finding out who the Mother is and how Ted meets her, and I'd be fine if the show tabled it for the forseeable future, and/or if Ted met the Mother immediately (assuming the casting was good and the character was written to be more likable than Stella) and the show moved on to other pursuits. (Hey, if "Prison Break" could keep calling itself that for years after they broke out of Fox River, why can't "How I Met Your Mother" keep its name while changing its focus?)
(*) Once upon a time, I would have put Lily on that list, but it's been remarkable how little the show has missed her these last few weeks while Alyson Hannigan was on maternity leave. (In case you forgot, this week's final scene, and all of next week's finale, were all filmed out of sequence so the producers could do their finale before they lost Hannigan for the year.) I like Lily, but her absence has forced the writers to lean much more heavily on the Marshall/Barney team, and they've been (insert Barney Stinson superlative here) together.
Now, immediately after watching this one, I popped in a DVD screener of the season finale so I can interview Carter Bays for something that'll run next Monday night after it airs. Because of that, I don't want to say too much else about what this episode did or didn't reveal about Ted's quest for the actual Mother, but I'll tell you two things about the finale: 1)I really liked it, and 2)It features a certain oft-discussed barnyard animal, for real this time.
In the meantime, a few other thoughts on "As Fast as She Can":
• I want to ask Bays about Barney's confused driving history, but I don't remember all the details anymore, save that in one episode, he couldn't drive, and an episode or two later, he was hijacking Ted's moving van. Anybody want to fill in some gaps for me?
• I loved the way Neil Patrick Harris' voice got both high and Southern as Barney tried to tell the others that he could talk his way out of a ticket.
• Ted's ringtone is "Let's Go to the Mall." I like that the producers didn't put some canned laughter under that moment to highlight it, the way I imagine a number of other shows would have. Either you noticed it, or you didn't.
• Ordinarily, I try to play New Jersey expert whenever the show makes a geographic reference, but I have no idea how to even spell the name of the town where Barney got arrested.
• Late last year, the show promised that we'd find out about the goat by the end of this season. Here, we got a tease about Tony writing a movie called "The Wedding Bride," that will conveniently be released in May 2010.
What did everybody else think?