As “How I Met Your Mother” enters the home stretch of its final season, it is becoming clear that the premise of the series has been obfuscated since the very beginning. Rather than being the long-winded tale of a man’s rambling discovery of the mother of his children, it is increasingly clear that Ted is in fact not only a serial killer, but the son of one Ted Bundy.
There is of course the similarity of names: Theodore Evelyn Mosby and Theodore Robert Bundy. Ted’s first name is of course taken from his father, the middle an emasculating reminder of his father’s hatred of women. And the last name of the son, changed just enough from the father to throw off suspicion, but close enough that once seen it cannot be unseen. We have also learned in the course of the series that Ted’s birthday is in April of 1978, which is truly suspicious given that Ted Bundy escaped from prison and was at large, nine and a half months previously in June of 1977. This is suggestive but hardly evidence in and of itself.
The first question that erupts is whether his friends know about his terrible secret. To which the answer is that there are in actuality no friends at all. Barney, Robin, Marshall, and Lily do not exist. Lapping that amateur Tyler Durden three times, Ted actually has four complete figments of his imagination inhabiting his life, shielding his fragile psyche from the truth of his own evil.
Ted’s violence first expressed itself against humans in his freshman year of college, when walking in on his roommate Marshall and his girlfriend Lily birthed an anger and resentment that he had until that time channeled into the abuse of small animals. Those two remained with him for the rest of his life, though their bodies were never found by authorities, an imaginary couple that represented the domesticity that he himself was denied during a violent childhood, and which his rage could never permit in his own life.
Barney represents Ted’s Id of course, his desire to act confidently and strongly, to be powerful and charismatic. He is the alter ego that stalks the night, with the wealth and antiseptic apartment channeled from the same gestalt that generated Patrick Bateman. Where his wealth comes from is never explained precisely because such details are not necessary for the role that Barney plays in the world that Ted has constructed. Every single woman (the 283 referenced in passing) who Barney has slept with is in fact dead, victim of the most prolific serial killer in American history. The real reason that they are never seen again is not because they are one night stands, but because they never leave his soulless abattoir of an apartment alive.
Robin is the face Ted generates from old pictures of his mother, when she was still young and not yet sickened by the world. The relationships he manages with other women are fictional, rationalizations of women who evaded his Barney alter-ego and can never live up to the idealization of his imagined mother-lover. The failure of his relationship with Robin is the imaginary bridge his mind takes to allowing murder into his conscious life. He begins to hunt for a replacement, for the victim who will become his bride in truth. But he finds them all wanting, and discards each in turn.
Ted’s supposed daughter and son are in fact the children of his latest victim, who having returned home early and finding the killer still in the house have been subjected to Ted’s crazed ranting, his explanation of the long series of events in his life that led eventually to his meeting their mother. This is not a story of finding love, this is the story of blood.