Tuesday, March 4, 2014
How I Met Your Mother 9x19: Vesuvius
If we are to take the implication of the final scene of this episode at face value, it seems that at some point between that scene, set in 2024, and 2030 (the year of SagetTed's narration), the Mother is going to die (presumably of a terminal illness, since they seem aware of her impending death in this episode). Now, the idea that the Mother's death is what prompts SagetTed to tell his kids this ridiculously long story has long been a theory proposed by some fans (along with a corollary that this would allow him to be with Robin in the future, hence explaining the show's seemingly odd fascination with that relationship in spite of its titular premise), but I've always assumed that was just a whacky fan theory (akin to how fans theorized that all the plot threads on Lost would eventually pay off).
But unless this episode is just one HUGE misdirect, it seems that is the road Bays and Thomas are going down, and that's just...wrong. There's no better word for it. It betrays the spirit of the show, and there's simply not enough time left in the remaining episode to properly handle a situation of this magnitude, which means that, in the end, the Mother as a character is going to be even more marginalized than she already is. Not only that, but it guarantees the series is going to end on a huge downer, juxtaposing what is supposed to be a happy day (Robin and Barney's wedding, Ted meeting The One) with tragedy, which is pretty much the opposite of how a comedy, especially one as generally genial and effusive as this one, should end. It's just wrong, and I can't believe professional writers could possibly think otherwise.
I hope me and the rest of the internet are wrong about this, that this all just a big misdirection and the Mother is going to have recovered between 2024 and 2030 (which would just make Bays and Thomas dicks for messing around with us like this) or something, but I have a feeling I'm not. This entire season has been built on a number of questionable-to-bad ideas, after all (setting it entirely over the wedding weekend, featuring the Mother so sparingly): how better to end, then on the worst idea of them all?
How was the rest of the episode? Fine, I guess. Not terribly funny, and a little more clip show-y in its callbacks than other episodes this season, but (precursor of the wrongheaded direction of the rest of the series aside) it wasn't bad. The plot at least addressed one of my primary concerns brought on by the teaser of the episode last week (why wouldn't Barney, of all people, already have a suit ready for his wedding day? Turns out he did, he just didn't like it, which was fine).
That said, it was a little odd that they went with a "Barney's inability to pick a suit mirrors his anxieties over getting married" storyline, considering we already saw that plot in relation to his ties in a flashforward last season. I hope we at least circle back to that tie scene at some point.
The visual trick of the suit not fitting well on Barney until he accepts it, at which point the camera pulls back and it fits perfectly, was neat.
Tracey Ullman as Robin's mom? Sure, why not.
Also, kudos on bringing back Lucy Hale as Robin's sister (and remembering she had a sister), but what are the odds this is the last we'll see of her?
Are we meant to assume that the present day stuff in this episode was what 2024 Ted was telling the Mother, or was this SagetTed telling his kids about the time he told their mother about the time that Robin broke a lamp on her wedding day? Does it even matter?
At first, I took 2024 Ted's sadness to mean his mom died and didn't make it to his wedding, but then realized the Mother specifically said "what mother wouldn't make it to her daughter's wedding" and realized 2024 Ted was sad because the Mother wouldn't be at her daughter's wedding.
The Mother's worry that Ted will get lost in his stories could also be read as a further indication of her impending death (ie she's worried he won't move on after she's gone).
If they really are going to kill off the Mother, why the hell wasn't she introduced sooner, so we could get to know her and not feel like her death is a major copout? How in the hell was this going to work if the creators had stuck to her original plan and not shown her until the literal moment Ted met her? "And that's how I met your mother, kids. Also, as you know, she's dead now. The end."
I also find it hard to believe that Ted's kids would have been as flippant about this story (as they often were in the early seasons) if it was being told about their dead mother.