So this is going to be a very angry, spoiler filled review of the series finale of How I Met Your Mother.
Ok, you had your chance to run.
Did you enjoy the finale?
Ok then, maybe it’s time for you to leave this very emotion-filled post because I am about to get very feelsy.
Ok, what was wrong with this series finale? I don’t want to say everything, but I have literally never felt more uncomfortable in a show my entire life. Let’s rewind back to last spring, when they announced that this show was getting its final season and that this final season was going to take place over a weekend.
Or maybe let’s rewind back to nine years ago, when the creators decided not to have Robin as the mother in the pilot episode. If this was a show about how Aunt Robin actually was your mother, Robin maybe I wouldn’t have left this show infuriated.
Maybe if they hadn’t made me fall in love with Robin and Barney, I wouldn’t have left this show infuriated. Maybe if they hadn’t dedicated an ENTIRE SEASON to Robin and Barney’s wedding, only to throw it away in 40 mins, I wouldn’t have left this show infuriated. Maybe if Ted’s children didn’t sound so nonchalant telling their father to go after Aunt Robin and nonchalantly disregarding stories about their mother.
So let’s talk about the problem, this isn’t a show about how he met their mother. It’s a story about how Dad fell in love with someone who is definitely not their mother, lied to himself about that love and tried to convince himself otherwise, fell in love with their mother and a ton of other women, and then went back to first love after all of his struggles.
Now that I’ve talked about that obvious first problem, let’s get into the finale and let’s go by character.
So I have the least problem with Marshall’s ending, not because I think it’s a little implausible he’s moved so quickly up the ladder, but because they built this up. We know he gets the position of Supreme Court Judge, we know that he dreads going back to corporate law but expectedly does so anyways. It’s not a surprise. He gets his family of children and his dreams through some suffering. In my book, it wasn’t a bad end.
And that ends the amount of characters who had an ending I was happy with. We know Lily gets to go to Italy, but what happens after that? We know from recent episodes that she has had fears having children, but suddenly she has three kids? Is she ok with that? We never know. Before anyone goes to say “this isn’t a show about Lily” it is. This is a show about the gang, and I feel insulted that they weren’t accounted for in the end.
So what happens to Lily? What happens to her career path as an artist? Does she just become a stay-at-home mom? How does their marriage deal with this? I’m not asking for these questions to be answered in 40 mins, I’m saying these questions should have been answered during this final season.
Look, I love Robin. I just lived under the comment for all nine seasons that she was NOT the mother. I settled myself in for her not being the mother, but I guess I didn’t account for her being the stepmother. For the entire finale, we get Robin in anguish, but never really on screen.
We are told that Robin’s main problem with Barney is that she’s never around. Is that the only problem they have? What about Robin’s infertility? We spent so long talking about that, but it’s not even mentioned here? Robin’s been roaming the world alone after getting divorced with Barney and all we get is the gang’s view of her nomadic lifestyle in a cursory way.
We spent much of season 9 seeing her prepare for her wedding. We have beautiful moments between Barney and Robin. We have fallen in love with Barney and Robin and the chemistry that Cobie Smulders and Neil Patrick Harris have for each other (not that Smulders and Radnor don’t have chemistry, they definitely do). To get this kind of ending, to have a marriage that doesn’t last longer than a few minutes feels like we could have skipped this entire season.
There are so many things I wanted to know about Robin. I wanted to know about her struggle with Barney in their marriage, I wanted to know about her travels alone and her realization that the reason she loves Ted now is not the same reason she loved Ted eight seasons ago.
There was so many things I wanted and none of them were given to me.
It is insulting to me that the creators took a fan favorite like Barney, and spent half the season finale giving us his old “player” self. It was realistic to see Barney turn back to his playboy lifestyle and it was realistic for him to (finally) knock some girl up and have a baby, but did we need to see it so many times? I would have liked if they took one scene of Barney creeping after a young girl and replaced it with one scene of Robin alone somewhere contemplating her feelings.
It was uncomfortable to see Barney back in his old ways, but that was realistic. What was unfair was the execution of it. His argument with Robin was centered around her moving around so much, but instead of giving us an actual argument or an actual talk, he wanted to work on his blog? This is the series finale give us some substance. Take the god damned leap.
In the end, however, the only redeeming scene in the ENTIRE episode was Barney’s moment with his daughter. It’s so sweet to see them harnessing some of Neil Patrick Harris’ acting chops in that scene.
Tracy aka The Mother
As upset as I am about them speeding through Barney’s storyline, nothing compares to how upset I am about how they treated the character of The Mother. If you’re going to build up to some kind of huge reveal like the character of The Mother, make it significant. We had hypothesized a while ago that she would be dead by the time Ted tells his story to his kids, and so we saw it coming.
Yes, we saw it coming, but that doesn’t mean we need to gloss over her death in a scene that takes less time than a commercial break. For those who didn’t catch on, it’s a few minutes of her on her death bed and then her kids going “why did you tell us this story about our dead mother? Go and jump Aunt Robin’s bones! We don’t care anymore! It’s been 6 years!
I’m sorry, it’s been six years? Putting aside the fact that after six years of grief, Ted is allowed to go find Robin and date her, what kind of kids (who seem to have a good relationship with their mother) respond to a story about their mother in such a callous way?
Am I crazy or did their reaction to the story seem grossly inappropriate? I don’t care if Lyndsy Fonseca and David Henrie look different now, slap some make up on them and make them do this scene again. If 30 year old Crystal Reed can play 16 year old Allison Argent, you can make this happen.
I fell so in love with Tracy, who not only seemed to be the perfect companion to Ted, but also was his true love. But then, just kidding, the creators pulled the rug out from under me and tell me that she isn’t even significant enough to get a decent goodbye?
Ted’s life has been a roller coaster of women, of him falling love too fast and scaring girls off. Of him making the wrong choices and screwing up a viable relationship. Robin was one of those women. With Tracy he did things right, he learned from his mistakes. I believe that he was truly happy with her, but after Tracy’s death, what happens to him?
I don’t see him going out and dating, and I don’t want him to never find love again, so Robin was, in many ways, the only choice.
The fact is that I think the creators really screwed themselves when they decided in their pilot that Robin wasn’t the mom and kept going back to how Robin and Ted didn’t work together. Because nothing in the finale told me that Robin and Ted would last this time. What, just because Ted has kids now or Robin has her success their problems have been fixed?
I don’t believe you.
So, did I waste 9 years of my life? Maybe. For a show that has so many great plot arcs that bring things together and teach human emotion so well, they royally fucked up the ending. The show has been on a downward slide for a long time, and it’s been hard watching a show that I enjoy dig itself into a deeper grave with bad episodes littered through lackluster seasons. I could go on and on about things that they should have done or could have done, but the problem is that it’s already over.
This episode read like a bad fanfiction. And don’t tell me “this is how the real world is”. Fiction is not the real world, good storytelling is not the real world. All I can hope is that future shows, or maybe even the How I Met Your Dad spin-off, will learn from this pretty crucial mistake. Not only do show creators need to be flexible to change, but they need to stay loyal to their storytelling.
Maybe it’s time for me to go rewatch season 5 of Breaking Bad to remind myself to have faith in television finales.