9.7/10. I am still amazed at what they managed to pull off with The Mother in Season 9. There was necessarily so much build to who this woman had to be, all the things she had to represent and all the ways that she had to fit naturally into this world and the lives of our protagonists. And she does! This is a woman who totally makes sense for the gang, and totally makes sense for this show, and totally makes sense for Ted.
But there's more to her than that. She's not just a pot of gold waiting for Ted at the end of the rainbow. She is a woman with her own journey from the past to the present, with her own stumbles and trials and tribulations, that makes Ted just as much a light at the end of the tunnel for her as she is for him.
I'll admit, I found it a little too neat, and a little too "small universe" how many connections there were between her and the various important people and places from the show's history. But at the same time, I appreciated how the show filled in the gaps with things we already knew about, like her night at the club, or Ted's accidental class, or the return of the yellow umbrella to her apartment.
More than that though, I really appreciated the story, that would have absolutely worked as its own show, of a young woman who lost a significant other very young and very tragically, and believed that she'd basically won the lottery on her first ticket, and wasn't likely to win again. Telling that story in 22 minutes is hard, but the episode did a nice job at showing a woman who was weird and nerdy in a way that makes her fit to be a Mosby, but also different and someone with her own important journey to "a little ways down the road." The story of her moving on past her heartbreak with Max was quite poignant, and Christina Miloti delivered that monologue to her dead beau like a champ.
And my word, if you can avoid being move by her rendition of "La Vie En Rose," then you're a stronger man than I. It's such a lovely little moment, conveying both the melancholy and sweetness of her love. Her philosophy on the universe giving you one person works as an interesting counterpoint or echo of Ted's own philosophy about waiting for The One. While Ted is still trying to find his soulmate and worries he never will, The Mother thinks she'd already found hers and will never get another chance at something like that again. It's a nice way to show that the two have the same perspective, and yet have different flavors of it. All-in-all, it's a wonderful format-bending, mythology heavy episode, that still takes time to make us care about The Mother apart from our heroes, which makes the inevitable meeting that this show has been building too all the more meaningful.
**SPOILERS FOR THE END OF THE SERIES. DO NOT READ BELOW THIS POINT IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE ENTIRE SHOW**
In hindsight, it's interesting how Tracy moving past Max and being mistaken in her belief that the universe only gives you one person to truly love foreshadows Ted eventually moving on from Tracy and going after Robin in the finale. I still don't care for that decision, and I think it undoes too much of what this season accomplished, but in retrospect, I appreciate that Thomas and Bays set up that choice thematically here. It's good writing, even if I don't like where they went with it.