Carter Bays and Craig Thomas were most wasteful with episodes this season, but the final five episodes of How I Met Your Mother seem more substantial than filler. I use ‘seem’ because one never knows when Carter and Craig will devote an episode to Barney picking a suit to wear. Oh, that happened tonight. The pointless stories had some kind of a purpose, though. The 2013 wedding day stories were framed around 2024 Ted sharing stories with The Mother on a weekend getaway to Farhampton. The 2024 storytelling added mystery and intrigue to the final four episodes of the series. Fans have speculated for years that Ted lost his wife already when he tells this unnecessarily long story. There’s a hint about what’s going on in 2030 during Ted’s tale of meeting her to his kids; more immediate is the wonder and mystery and intrigue about why The Mother’s eyes fill with tears when she tells her husband he can’t live in his stories and why Ted’s eyes fill with tears when he talks about mothers and wedding days.
In 2024, Ted and his nameless wife are comfortably married. Ted wears snug sweaters. The Mother dolls her hair up like a lovely looking actress from the 1950s. They’ve told each other the stories of their lives since they met. At dinner, they realize they’ve run out of stories the other hasn’t heard. Ted finishes his wife’s story about a college friend’s dong something, and The Mother finishes Ted’s story about the worst snowstorms he experienced, one of which the viewers were unfortunate enough to watch. The happy couple celebrates their transition to old, boring married couple. Ted happens upon the story of Robin’s broken hotel lamp, which the ageless hotel clerk thinks was broken during a particularly lively sexy time between Robin and Barney, as a possible new story his wife hasn’t heard.
The Mother heard the story. It involves Lily’s reluctance to watch Robin treat her wedding day like she’d treat an ordinary Sunday, Ted’s assistance in Barney’s suit deliberation, and a viewing of The Wedding Bride Too (which ties a knot on that gag). The Mother remembers the story at the point Lily and Robin argue about dresses, and she finishes the story. Finishing each other’s stories adds to the lore of Ted and his wife. They’ve relived their lives, and in the reliving have helped the one they love most live that life with them the second time, or something. Robin and Barney are removed from the kind of love Ted and The Mother share later in life. Robin would rather shoot pucks in her hotel room. Barney dedicates his morning to finding the best suit, tie, cufflinks, belt, etc., for the ceremony, of which he thinks he’ll be the center.
The surprise twist at the end of the story is what makes Robin’s wedding day, it seems, from the way Ted and The Mother talk about it. Robin’s own mother surprises her the morning of, but the surprise twist evokes intense emotions from Ted. Ted’s mother may not have attended his wedding because she died. The larger implication of the story isn’t that Ted’s mother died. His stories don’t involve his mother. Robin is at the very center of the story—“Vesuvius” and the entire series. The Robin story allows him to think back on the most special moment of the entire drawn-out weekend for The Wedding Bride: the surprise appearance by her mother. He’s been sad about Robin for the entire series. Why wouldn’t he feel sad about Robin in 2024? Ted barely talked about his own wife during the story of how he met her. Living in his stories mostly excludes her.
The exclusion of her may be the point of the series, though. Ted imagines telling her his wish for an extra forty-five days with her as he wishes for more of the rest of his life with her.
I haven’t been invested in the series in years. One may wonder why I wrote reviews for every episode the last four years without any investment. I encourage you to wonder. “Vesuvius” marks the most interested I’ve been in the series in years. I don’t think the ending will make nine seasons of story worth the nine seasons of watching it. I think endings are tremendously overvalued in present pop-culture. Too much of a show’s legacy depends upon the ending. I don’t think that’s a good way to ‘judge’ a series (as much as anyone can really judge a series as this objective thing that has a definitive truth about its quality or an objective measure). If HIMYM hits the right tone in the ending, I may forgive myself for all the words I wrote and all the hours I spent writing those words.