Let’s jump right into the plot, so we can spend the majority of the time talking about the theory regarding the fact that the Mother might be dead by the time 2030 rolls around.
“Vesuvius” had a basic plot structure in the present timeline. First, Barney’s quest to find the perfect suit. He rented a room for “Susan Tup.” In other words: “Sue Tup.” Say it more slowly this time: “Suit Up.” Ted finds him with literally all of his dozens of suits. The problem is that the suit Tim Gunn had made for him doesn’t feel right because it is too new and the two seek out a former suit, but relive all of Barney’s crazy adventures he had in them. In the end, Ted gives a great speech explaining that all of the suit’s memories are ahead of him. The suit will be the suit Barney marries the love of his life in; the one he dances his first dance as a married man in; the suit he begins his new life in. It was a rather touching moment for such a wacky plotline.
Meanwhile, Lily is upset Robin hasn’t had her “day-of-wedding-freak-out” yet and spends the episode trying to induce one. This allows for some fun flashbacks that remind viewers of Lily and Marshall’s not-so-perfect wedding way back in the second season. This is where we also get to see another call back to a film based off of Ted’s life with Stella: The Wedding Bride Too. The sequel spoof brought back Chris Kattan, but like the original spoof film, it was unbearable and not worth our time. It was clearly a filler for the bigger pathos at play at the end of the episode. Robin finally has a freak out moment when we are introduced to her mother (played by Tracey Ullman), who shows up in the final moments.
All of this was fine. However, it was the ending that got the Internet buzzing. The episode began in 2024, six years before Future Ted starts telling his story to Penny and Luke. Ted and the Mother are having dinner at the Farhampton Inn for their 10-year anniversary. They share a sweet moment when they realize they have no stories to tell. The high five and celebrate that they are an “old married couple.” It just goes to show how perfect they are for each other.
At the end, after Ted exclaims how shocked he was that Robin’s mother came to the wedding, the Mother asks rhetorically, “What mother is going to miss her daughter’s wedding?” This causes pain to strike Ted and the Mother quickly changes the subject.
This sent the internet screaming that the creators are going to kill off the Mother and that is why Ted is telling the story. See, at one point, she told Ted to stop living in the past and living through his stories. She tells him that life is about the future, and he needs to keep looking forward.
All of this combined for the idea that the Mother might not be there in the future. The likely theory is that she is going to die (thanks to the “45 day monologue” from last season). I have been scrambling for a way out of this grim scenario. One theory (filled with many gaping holes) is that Ted’s own mother died before his wedding, and it still pains him years later. I doubt this is the case, but again, I’m just trying to figure out the endgame. The creators know all of our fears about the doomsday ending, so I really have a feeling they’re laying the red herrings on heavily.
Adam Vitcavage is a Phoenix-based television critic who contributes regularly to Paste. When he’s not watching and talking about television, he teaches literature at a high school. You can follow him on Twitter.