• Gina Denny

Episode 1.21 - Milk

Updated: Jun 17

This episode opens at the bar, where we learn that Ted is turning 28.



He gets some food and Lily feels the need to touch the plate to prove that it’s actually hot (which comes back around later in the episode). Barney says he’s giving Ted a birthday present of the best pickup line ever, which turns out to be an elaborate prank just so he can say she’s “an angel who fell from heaven” which is not a good pickup line at all. But here’s a couple fun bits:

  • The paramedics who show up are the creators of the show, Carter Bays and Craig Thomas

  • Ted foreshadows the goat in the bathroom, which does indeed get included in his 30th birthday party but is actually a tease to bring up his 31st birthday (and the goat conveniently hides Alyson Hannigan’s pregnancy, which they couldn’t have possibly foreseen when making this season)

  • Ted’s list of traits his wife will have? She eventually fulfills them all <3


Ted says he’s not gonna look for a wife anymore, but Future Ted teases us with the Matchmaking service from episode 7.


The next morning, Ted drinks sour milk from the fridge and puts it back and Lily says she’ll pick up milk later (this also comes back around)


Marshall is at work with Barney and Barney tells Marshall about this ongoing feud with some dude across the street. Barney violates the guy’s sandwich and the show brilliantly does not reveal what it is. Your imagination is worse than the truth could possibly be.


Cut back to Ted, he gets a call from the Matchmaking service and finds out that they have found the perfect woman for him. Ted decides to go on a date with the woman who is his soulmate.


Back at work with Marshall, Barney ropes Marshall into the war with the guy across the street.


Cut back to Ted, who is waiting for his date with his soul mate but he gets a call from Lily who is asking for Ted to come out to Dutchess County and change a tire for her. She’s out on a secret mission of some kind and doesn’t want Marshall to know.


Lily confides in Ted that she’s been having some insomnia and also some second thoughts about getting married. She’s out in Dutchess County because she has an interview for a very prestigious fellowship (I’m not sure how she ended up in Dutchess County, because that seems out of the way from NYC to New Haven, but maybe I’m wrong). Ted comforts her and Lily questions “Why isn’t Marshall doing anything crazy?”


Smash cut to Marshall, staying very late at work, to put a hundred mice in a box as part of the feud with the dude across the street.


Back to Lily, she is FUH-REAK-ING OUT. Ted’s very confused because she “said mistake a lot…”. Lily pulls away and leaves him on the side of the highway. Ted calls her, threatens her, wishes her good luck, reminds her to pick up milk on the way home. Then he calls Barney and asks for a ride home from Dutchess County (which doesn’t work, because we learn later that Barney has never learned to drive, and none of them have a car besides Marshall).


Ted calls Robin and asks for a ride back to the city. She’s wearing a hideous hat and reveals that she got bad highlights in her hair. On the way back to the city, they have a flirty conversation, despite the fact that they’re talking about Ted’s supposed soulmate and Robin reveals that she thinks she never wants to have any kids. Robin drops Ted off at the bar and shows him her hair and we can see that Ted is plainly smitten (especially since they do the whole “oh boy I look so ugly but I’m still one of the most beautiful women on the planet” thing).


Ted gets out of the van, ready to meet his soulmate, but the song that’s playing is “Mother of Pearl” by Roxy Music, which says “I wouldn’t trade you for another girl” a hundred times in a row and Ted realizes he’s still in love with Robin.


He skips his date and goes upstairs to find Lily and Marshall goofing around and they have a heavy-handed conversation about “milk” which is actually about her fellowship, to which Marshall is oblivious. Ted tells them that he skipped the date and that he’s gonna go after Robin once again.


Marshall points out that going after Robin is a mistake, which gives Future Ted a chance to go back through all the mistakes of the episode: Lily touching the hot plate, Robin’s bad hair, Barney’s box of mice.


Let’s remember that Ted is supposedly telling this story to his future kids. He’s rehashing the fact that this is a mistake for a reason. He doesn’t just tell them that his past self decided to date Robin, he underscores the fact that dating Robin was a mistake. She just told him that she never wants kids! But it’s a mistake he has to make…


But let's also look at what this episode is doing in the overall arc of the series. Most sitcoms of this time were still being told very episodically, meaning you could jump in at almost any point and start watching or skip several weeks and still be okay. TIVO was new-ish, and streaming was a couple years away still.


But the writers were writing a season-long story. This episode is marking time between the Darkest Moment and The Resolution. Structurally, nothing is happening here, but they're working very hard to just maintain tension between Ted and Robin so that The Resolution next week is satisfying.


Writing Prompt: Plug your story into a

7 point 3 act scene sequel outline tool
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Download • 13KB

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Listen to the episode here

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