'How I Met Your Mother': 'Bass Player Wanted' is how Marshall meets the Mother

himym-bass-player-wanted-andrew-rannells-josh-radnor.jpgThe final "How I Met Your Mother" of 2013 delivered an early present for fans: a heavy dose of the Mother -- this time paired up with Marshall -- and the at-long-last reuniting of the core cast.

Throw in the Devil Darren (a well-used Andrew Rannells) and his emotional fire-bombing -- through him, we get some airing-out of previously held secrets -- plus the promise of the fourth slap to start 2014, and you have one of the stronger episodes of this final season to date. Funny how just about all of them have involved the Mother, innit?

Darren, it turns out, is the singer in the Mother's band, and through his awfulness has been slowly taking control of it from the Mother, going so far as to place an ad for a new bass player for the band she started. She relates her tale after stealing his van and picking up Marshall* and Marvin on the way to the inn, while we watch him drive wedges between Lily and Robin and Ted and Barney.

(*Nice work by creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas, who wrote the episode, in showing Marshall, like Lily, getting along famously with the Mother almost straight off the bat. Lily and Marshall's fight may and probably should get a little ugly, but they're still in sync about a lot of things too. Let's hope the show finds the right balance there.)

Their friendships, fortunately, are stronger than Darren's jaggery. Barney has a revelatory moment about why Ted's moving to Chicago, and Lily works out some of her aggression on the Marsh-pillow before they hit "Pause"* on the judgeship-vs.-Italy debate.

(*But not for too long -- an episode in the early part of 2014 is titled "Unpause.")

Darren, meanwhile, gets what's coming to him when he knocks the third bottle of 30-year-old Scotch from Ted's hand. He's out of the wedding band, the Mother is back in -- and most important, she and Ted make their first connection, as she leaves a glass of even better Scotch for him at the bar.

Was Darren a plot device masquerading as a character? Sure he was. But he was a plot device character who did his job and got offstage, providing some necessary clearing of the decks and setup for the remainder of the season. And, one hopes as the wedding and her meeting with Ted approaches, still more of the Mother.

What did you think of the last "HIMYM" of 2013? And are you excited to see the fourth slap when the show returns?
Photo/Video credit: CBS