‘How I Met Your Mother’ Midseason Finale Review: “Bass Player Wanted”
‘How I Met Your Mother’ season 9 recalls its 13th episode of the final year, “Bass Player Wanted,” as Marshall makes a motherly new friend on the road to Farhampton, while Robin, Lily, Ted and Barney deal with a mysterious stranger (‘Girls‘ star Andrew Rannells) pitting them against one another.
Previous ‘How I Met Your Mother’ installment “The Rehearsal Dinner” saw Barney insisting upon a laser tag rehearsal dinner right up until the Farhampton event, while Ted and Lily revealed more surprising secrets to one another. So how does the latest episode keep the final season rolling down the aisle?
Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about the ‘How I Met Your Mother’ season 9 episode 13 midseason finale, “Bass Player Wanted.”
Marshall grows weary along his five-mile trek before the mother finally pulls up in her van and offers he and Marvin a ride. She quickly manages to freak Marshall out by guessing his entire trip ordeal, including Lily’s job in Rome, before jokingly revealing that she rode with Lily on the train. Meanwhile, Ted and Barney lament their lost bottles of scotch, while a mysterious stranger greets Lily and Robin, though they remain uncertain of his identity, even as they play along with his familiarity.
The stranger quickly pits Robin and Lily against one another by claiming Robin actually took Marshall’s side in their argument with Lily, next introducing himself to Barney and Ted with the same routine. Out on the road, the mother admits to Marshall that she intends to leave the wedding after dropping him off, if only to avoid their band’s lead singer Darren, who repeatedly pits people against one another, and had gone as far as to usurp her lead singing role, and place an ad for a new bass player.
While Darren ingratiates himself between Ted and Barney, Lily and Robin come to a peace about Marshall for the moment, until Darren swoops back in to point out that Lily’s conflict has stolen thunder from Robin’s wedding weekend. Meanwhile, the Mother explains to Marshall that she stole Darren’s van on advice from Lily, though Marshall urges her to return to Farhampton and finally confront Darren for his actions. Finally, Darren drops in between Ted and Barney to reveal Ted’s upcoming move to Boston, shocking Barney.
Barney storms out on Ted for their friendship apparently meaning so little to him, while Robin brings a peace offering to Lily, holding up her “Marshpillow” for Lily to work out some aggression. A short while later, Ted brings a similar offering to Barney, that of another expensive scotch bottle Ted stole on Lily’s advice. Barney points out that Marshall and Lily would only be gone for a year, until realizing that would leave Ted in New York with he and Robin, and suddenly understanding Ted’s desire for a fresh start. Outside, Marshall and the mother arrive to the inn, wherein the mother decides to tell Darren off after all.
Marshall finds Lily punching out the pillow, though the pair agree to table their aggression for the moment and happily reunite. Meanwhile, the Mother practices her speech to Darren with Linus, though soon realizes it won’t do her any good, as bad guys never get their karma. Moments later, Darren leaves the inn and bumps into Ted pouring scotch for the group, again destroying the bottle. Ted finally snaps and punches Darren to the ground, after which Darren finds the mother at the bar, and quits the band. The mother has Linus buy a glass of the inn’s finest scotch for the best man who punched out Darren, though she has gone by the time Ted claims it at the bar.
After the credits, Marshall apologizes to Barney for missing the rehearsal dinner and offers a gift to make up for it, though when Barney gets too condescending, Marshall readies the fourth slap of their agreement. To be continued!
Really, “midseason finale” has become something of a misnomer with broadcast television, especially in that ‘How I Met Your Mother’ will return on January 13, though we still appropriate these year-end episodes with some semblance of setting up things to come. And in that sense, “Bass Player Wanted” doesn’t quite set up a monumental future to come in the same way last year’s “The Final Page” had (at the time, a ninth season hadn’t been confirmed either), but the mere fact of having all the major players finally together in one location has us hopeful for the final run, if only from a meta standpoint.
Along that same line, you’d be hard-pressed to avoid a bit of disappointment in “Bass Player Wanted,” for all its playing to the core cast’s stronger dynamics, as the instigations of band leader Darren (the always-welcome Andrew Rannells) seem to skirt around the more interesting conflicts set up by the previous episodes. Marshall and Lily finally have their reunion, a moment beautifully played when the two agree to “pause” and let good feelings wash over the bad, though we seem to have spent the last few episodes building for a conflict that still hasn’t come. The same goes for Robin and Lily, or Ted’s need to inform Robin or Marshall of his Chicago plans, as the A-story again pushes away conversations it doesn’t want yet to have.
The final season format of ‘How I Met Your Mother’ has repeatedly sewn this issue, in that the compressed time and proximity of the setting necessitates increasingly arbitrary circumstances to prolong conflict, whereas days or weeks might have passed in prior seasons, allowing more organic resolutions. We know that Ted will ultimately have his heart to hearts with the remaining group of the gang, so too will Marshall and Lily finally have it out over his judgeship, but viewer frustration becomes unavoidable when lapsed runtime drags the story out another few weeks, rather than any natural midpoint between episodes.
If nothing else, “Bass Player Wanted”s welcome bit of relief extends beyond Marshall’s return to the Farhampton inn, as however long the Mother remains on the fringe of the main story, Milioti still provides a natural breath of fresh air, an effortless fit within a group dynamic that has eight years of head-start working against her. “Bass Player Wanted” isn’t above running out the titular meeting’s clock, even as we know the Mother has at least arrived to the Inn, as a rather heartwarming connection between she and Ted is made slightly moot when she arbitrarily decides to leave the bar before Ted can make the four-second journey inside to claim his drink. We suspect we’ll be in for a great deal of elaborate cast juggling in the weeks to come for this very purpose, though it’ll be nice to have the titular character more readily available to interact with the gang she knows, and bridge the gap with those she doesn’t.
Certainly not without its flaws, but a much more promising portent for the episodes remaining than the installments that opened the season. Let the mother-loving begin!
Well, what say you? Did ‘How I Met Your Mother’’s latest installment, “Bass Player Wanted,” warm your heart to the final season? What did you think about the Mother’s latest introduction to the group? Give us your thoughts in the comments, and join us again in January for another all-new recap of ‘How I Met Your Mother’’s latest episode, midseason premiere “Slapsgiving 3: Slappointment in Slapmarra” on CBS!