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Corpse Bride: What Did the End of Last Night's "How I Met Your Mother" Mean?

By Courtney Enlow | TV Reviews | March 26, 2013 | Comments ()


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Last night, we experienced a bit of a mindfuck on “How I Met Your Mother.” The whole episode, featuring three Barneys, three Teds, a fight betwixt Robin and Marshall over an admittedly tasty-sounding drink, and a harmonious rendition of “For the Longest Time”, happened in Ted’s mind, not dissimilar to *that* episode of “Scrubs” that makes us all sob a lot. And there are those who took issue with it, generally Ted-loathers (of which there are many). You all know I myself have a bit of a soft side when it comes to Teddy Westside. I think it’s because I’ve known enough Ted Mosbys in real life to remain okay with him, because he’s honestly way less annoying than some of the real ones. And I enjoyed the turn of the episode, mostly because it’s made vastly less melodramatic now we know the titular Mother is in sight. Forty-five days in sight, as a matter of fact.

Now, that revelation is what leads us to the question of the day: is The Mother dead?

That question was posed a lot on these vast internets last night. Ted’s tears as he delivers one of the most powerful speeches the show has ever given us, his impassioned longing for 45 extra days with this woman, to some, was an indication that he’s lost her somewhere along the way. However this shapes up, the heart-hitting impact of this moment cannot be overstated. It was, put simply, a really beautiful moment of television, and a reminder of the depth of a relationship we haven’t seen yet but are still so invested in after all these years of build up and legend.

Now, I didn’t watch that and think “she ded; u cry evrytim” upon first viewing, and I still don’t. Ted’s monologue to his still unseen lady love felt Ted-ly enough that it didn’t sing “deeeeeaaadd wife” (that was to the tune of the “wo-oh-oh”s in “For the Longest Time” fyi) to me. To me, it was more about Ted’s present feeling of desperation and longing. Ted’s been varying shades of lost throughout the whole series. Yes, the fact that he is now in his mid-thirties gives it an added layer of “Jesus, man, get your shit together” but the whole show has been Ted’s journey to completion, and, right now, he’s at a low point. He’s alone, abandoned by his friends as they focus on their own lives and their own happiness. Ted’s seen lately just how much his life is entwined in theirs, and how he really has little of his own while they’re living their own stories, as he’s become a supporting character in not only this television show, but in the character’s own story to his children. And, without his friends there beside him, Ted doesn’t have a true story to tell. And he won’t. Not for 45 more days.

But I know there are many who disagree, citing his pleading hopeful agony as proof that, yes, this woman, she with her yellow umbrella, bass and great taste in books and music, is gone, and Ted is instead sharing with his children a story of a mother they’ve already said goodbye to. And, while that would be disappointing, it’s not impossible.

Since I have no answers, there’s clearly only one way to end this.







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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • Anebo

    The problem I have with the theory that a grieving Ted is telling the story to his kids for cathartic reasons is that in the first episode, his son asks, "Are we in trouble?" when he announces he's going to tell the story of how he met their mother to them. Hardly the tone to take so soon after their mom's death. Unless the kid is a real prick and/or the writers are going to unwisely retcon that. No, I think she's alive and this is a desperate Ted fearing those 45 days were wasted since he was so alone and yet so close to finding the woman he's been waiting for.

  • PSHrules

    I think credibility can be lent to the 'she's dead' because it would explain why two teenage kids would sit through that, they're indulging their grieving father or the mother died when they were young and they're now asking questions?

  • honeybeegirl

    Am I the only one who wondered if maybe this episode was hinting that the Mother is Coat Check Girl? When she walked out of the bar and Ted let her go, and then he ran to that apartment and did the whole speech, I wondered if he was also saying that he'd never forgive himself for not getting an extra 45 days with her (since he let her go). Is this idiotic? I actually only started watching this show about a year ago, and I still occasionally see re-runs of old episodes that I've missed, so maybe there are reasons why the Mother for sure can't be Coat Check Girl??

  • Atoz15

    In the episode 7 years ago that she was in Ted or marshall says something along the lines "maybe she'll be the one" and then bob saget's VoiceOver says "she wasn't"

  • Atoz15

    Say*

  • Lisa

    I was thinking this exactly. But I haven't been religious about the show either - watching some seasons but not others - so I don't know if there's a reason Coat Check Girl couldn't be the mother either.

  • All of this only reinforces my theory that Ted is a serial killer and the other characters are figments of his imagination.

  • frank247

    Steven Lloyd Wilson, I love you and want to have your babies.

  • Allan

    There are really a lot of cynics out there. Ted has a great monologue about how much he clearly loves this woman and from the comments section people jump to the conclusion that she must be dead. It is possible that he has those feelings for a real live woman...and Ted does have a history of being melodramatic!
    The mum is alive and well...I just really hope they cast her well.
    Also at many times during Ted's telling the story to his kids they want to leave because they are bored...If the mum was dead I don't think this would be the case

  • SlurpyDurp

    It's not impossible to end a show on a dramatically devastating note. I'm looking at you, Dinosaurs. Honestly the most heartbreaking series finale I have ever seen.

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    If the Mother is dead, Ted's stories have been radically insensitive to the kids, as he describes the endless hookups and almost-loves that happened to him before he met the Mother. It's kinda fucked up.

  • okayflint

    this is a pretty good point.

  • New theory: Ted is dead. All of his "stories" have been videotapes of himself talking that his kids have been watching since he passed. Why do I think this? Because he said last night, and I quote: "I will love you to the end of my days, and beyond." AND BEYOND.

    Boom.

  • You know, I get the idea the Mother may well have passed away at the time of Narrator-Ted's telling of the story, but one thing...

    My own wife is alive, and well (knock on wood), but not a day goes by when I don't wish I hadn't met her sooner so we could have more time together. Maybe earlier, though, I wouldn't have been the person I needed to be to appreciate her as much as I do now. But 45 days? I'd have run out into a storm for that chance, knowing what I know now.

  • Three_nineteen

    I think I'm going to be pissed if it turns out the mother is dead. What a shitty note to end a series on. But maybe they can pull it off.

    I want to talk about the fact that 20-years-from-now-Barney is wearing a wedding ring. That would seem to indicate that he did actually marry Robin. Or maybe he is on his third wife.

  • csb

    I don't think the Mother is dead, my interpretation was pretty much exactly what Courtney said - Ted's at a low point and needs to get his shit together, but Narrator-Ted knows in a month and a half he'll finally meet the woman of his dreams.

    Plus, I don't think the creators will go down the road of having the Mother die at some point. They've had a finish in mind since they first started the show (and reportedly filmed when the kids were still young enough for the parts) and there's never been a hint that Future-Ted is telling his children about how he met their dead Mom. I think the kids would have reacted a bit differently to his story if she was dead.

  • Wembley

    I choose to believe that it has been a coma dream of Ted's, ever since the episode where he broke up with a woman he had previously dumped via phone message on her birthday, and on a second attempt at a relationship, knowingly broke up with her on her birthday again, when he could have opted to wait a few days and she showed him that Krav Maga was not a form of Yoga.

    Yep. Ted's in a coma, and as days go by, his friends come to visit less and less and stay for shorter periods of time.

    As it should be.

  • NateMan

    This was one of the first times in a long time I liked Ted. I had the same thought (is she dead?) but I'm choosing it's just because he finally, FINALLY has met the love of his life, the person who makes him better, and he wants so badly to be that better person now. It was honest, it was touching, and it was incredibly well-written and acted.

    Actually, much of this season after he got rid of Cupcake has been a good shift for the character. He's finally someone I like.

  • Derreck

    I love the scenes where HIMYM goes straight for the heart because they always end up doing it so well. I didn't take my eyes off the screen the entire time of Ted's monologue.

    and that whole monologue reeked of "dead mother". Now that i think about it, it would add a big heap of poignancy if it was. The kids miss their mom and want to hear the story of how their parents met and to comfort them, Ted makes it an extra large one.

    It feels like the mom's dead and even though they had a grand love affair and life together, widower Ted will certainly go after Aunt Robin. Especially how Marshall and Lily's bet over Ted and Robin has never really been resolved and the story he tells the kids includes that he had a thing for Robin.

    I'll miss the show but IT'S ABOUT DAMN TIME this story gets a resolution. Next season should be great if done right.

    and sidenote: that musical number was incredibly random but well-done.

  • I was with you until you mentioned Ted going after Robin. Can we please, finally, let that go? They're not meant to be together and that's that. Also, future Barney was wearing his wedding ring.

  • Derreck

    Oh, believe me. I have.

    I just wouldn't be surprised if it wound up in that direction. HIMYM started out with Ted and Robin as their "one true pair" and not alot of shows tend to deviate from that. HIMYM is not your typical show, but still.

    and to be devil's advocate, it's not like Future Barney was canon in this episode. (Unless you're talking about another appearance of Future Barney because i've totally lost track of things with this show).

  • I thought of that too but Ted is the one imaging future Barney and he's in the future as well so he knows whether Barney and Robin worked out. I think he'd imagine Barney as he turned out to be. And I agree about shows trying not to deviate from the original pairing but I think this show is the exception. Bays and Thomas thought HIMYM was going to be cancelled so they were just going to have Robin be his "one" but when the show got picked up they had to revise it all.

  • ed newman

    If Dave Coulier shows up right after the dead mom confirmation, it might save the show.

  • mswas

    I was one of the question posers last night on FB. I didn't see anyone else's reaction, it was just my own assumption after watching it. This morning, I added this: "As lame as Ted Moseby is, he seemed so desperate for that extra 45 days. It reminds me of the end of A.I. when they tell David that they can create the clone but it would only live for one day. And I'm sitting there, thinking of my late father, saying 'take the one day, oh God take it.'"

    Niagara Falls, Frankie Angel. Niagara Falls.

  • PerpetualIntern

    AWESOME Scrooged reference.

  • Guest

    I loved the episode until the Ted Douchery at the end...

    Time Traveling with NPH / Barney would be awesome LEGENDARY! He'd make a great Doctor Who...(since Cindy ruined my day with her post on the weekend).

  • googergieger

    People still watch this shit? Err, I mean. Yeah I can't believe that thing happened. Man, that thing we've been waiting for that happened and everyone is going to be talking about. What a thing!

  • L.O.V.E.

    The Mother being dead would explain why these kids would sit down for what now has to be a 87 hour story and without the Mother ever barging in to tell them to wash up for dinner.

    I would actually be extremely impressed if this was ultimately a story about his dead wife.

    But I dont think this show has decided if she is dead or not. I like the show, but they have definitely given off the vibe that they are just making shit up on the fly without regard for past story developments.

    Also, I am pretty sure they have had "flash-forwards" of Ted and his wife being old and playing bridge or some shit with Marshall and Lily, and other references to them growing old together. But with this show you never really know what actually happens versus all those shows based on "what would have happened if not for this one particularly obscure event such as going to Atlantic City that one time that changed the course of Marshall's law career ...."

  • They never actually referenced Ted and the mother playing bridge with Marshall and Lily. The only time that I can remember the future characters referencing the mother is when they're at they're college reunion and Ted asks "Where's my wife?"

  • PerpetualIntern

    Although, you would assume she was probably at the reunion, since if she was dead, he probably wouldn't be asking where she was while giggling and high as a kite on....sandwiches.

  • Of course...that's I mean. The only reference of her in the present tense was at that reunion. But she could easily have passed away since then. I think that was their 20th college reunion which is not too far away from where the characters are now. Ted is in his mid 30s so that reunion has to be no more than 7-8 years away and he's telling the story to his kids when they are teenagers.

  • I was thinking she might be dead or maybe one of them is terminally ill. What a gut punch that would be.

  • Tom

    haven't we known that he meets her at the end of this season for almost 2 years now? or at least since the beginning of this season? to me, so many of these recent mythology moments haven't seemed like new revelations but just restating things we already know in order to kill time. I really can't do any more HIMYM mythology. It has already been too damn much. Last night felt like the show's narrative finally collapsed in on itself.

  • chad

    What I was trying to figure out last night was when does this season end? Is it mid May (45 days away)? Is it possible they filmed this episode before the 9th season was announced and this is a call to the series finale?

  • csb

    May 2013 is the date of Barney and Robin's wedding (season 8 finale no doubt), it's the day that Ted will meet the Mother.

  • Incredible acting by Josh Radnor last night.

  • As douchey as his character can be sometimes, Josh Radnor always brings it.

  • tangocharlie

    I won't lie, I started to tear up when he gave that 45-day speech. In my defense, I'm pregnant. I just want to know who she is after watching this damn show for so long!

  • John W

    That we're one day closer to the day when we can put this show behind us.

  • toblerone

    Right there with you JW.

  • RilesSD

    Me too. I had 10 eps on the DVR that I deleted yesterday. The ones I did watch this season were terrible, and I didn't think I could make it through another 10. Doubt I missed anything good.

    This one is saved though, so maybe I'll check it out.

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