[Serious spoiler alert if you haven't seen Monday's How I Met Your Mother]
Monday on How I Met Your Mother, fans were brought 10 years into the future, where Ted and the Mother were recounting old stories. Ted revealed that Robin’s mom came to her wedding after all, which was a surprise to the whole gang. The Mother countered that this wasn’t really a surprise: “What mother is going to miss her daughter’s wedding?” Cue Ted tears.
As my colleague Sandra Gonzalez noted in her recap, the scene seemed to imply that the Mother dies in the future — and that’s why Ted started telling his kids this whole nine-year-long story in the first place. This theory isn’t exactly new; it’s been floating around fan pages online for years. (In many of the predictions, Ted then gets together with Robin.) But, to me at least, it always seemed unlikely. Well, not anymore!
It’s tough to say whether this scene means that Craig Thomas and Carter Bays feel the time has finally come to clue fans into the show’s actual endgame, or if this possibly-dying bombshell is a red herring, or if fans are totally misinterpreting the scene, and nothing so sad is afoot. (Ted’s mom died! A friend’s mom just died! etc.)
Personally, I’m going for option two. I think the show’s creators want fans to think that perhaps the Mother dies — but in the final episode we’ll find out she had cancer but ended up recovering, or something.
I understand wanting to add dramatic tension to the show’s last few episodes; we can only watch so many scenes set in that gosh darn Farhampton Inn. The consequences of a dead Mother plotline, however, are way too upsetting. HIMYM occasionally flirts with a darkness unusual to long-running “group of friends” sitcoms — think Marshall’s dad’s death, or Robin’s infertility. That said, at its core, this show is a romantic comedy. We’ve been chugging along for nine seasons assuming we’re getting the happily-ever-after on the front porch Lily has always dreamed about: Barney and Robin, Lily and Marshall, and Ted and the Mother.
To rip the rug out from loyal fans — which is exactly what would happen if The Mother (or Ted) dies — seems downright cruel. I’m not arguing that fans should get to dictate exactly what happens on their favorite programs. But tonally, creators owe it to viewers not to change the rules in the bottom of the ninth. Breaking Bad had an ending filled with death, but that was a natural conclusion for that show. The natural conclusion of a show that has a long-running joke about “sandwiches” being code for “marijuana” is not death. Frankly, it would be insulting to anyone who spent years of Monday nights watching HIMYM; it seems like a twist just for twist’s sake. Can you imagine if Friends had concluded not with Rachel getting off the plane, but dying in a freak plane crash?
On a “Television Is A Business” note: I can’t imagine a studio being cool with such a downer of a finish, no matter how much Bays and Thomas might dress it up with some kind of “life is unpredictable, every day is a gift” message. For a lot of fans, such an ending would kill any desire to re-watch the show in syndication. For a program that clearly has a mind for longevity — a spin-off is in the works for this fall — this seems like the kind of idea that, if floated, would be shut down immediately by The Powers That Be at CBS.
In conclusion, the Internet has to be freaking out over nothing, because there is no way the show would be that dumb. I mean, we all know this program has never made a poor decision.
Are you with me that the latest twist must be a red herring — or do you think we’re all in for a finale filled with sobs?