[SPOILERS AHEAD – DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE SERIES FINALE OF HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER]
This is what I said on Facebook tonight just hours after the finale: “i don’t think i hated it to the extent that others did, but i think there’s a sense that the show made a (bold) promise in 2005 that it wasn’t the story of ted and robin, and yet ultimately, that’s what we were watching. and so, when we had to finally let go of that idea, and let robin be with barney, and hope that ted finds his soulmate, there was comfort in tracy/the mother being so perfect for him. so for her to die, only for ted to scurry back to robin, after her failed marriage to barney and her being an outcast from the group for over a decade, it didn’t feel romantic, it just felt tired. but i don’t think i have the righteous anger that others do – i was just disappointed. the one positive i will say is that i think they actually made barney a legitimate human being. his scene with his daughter, and then the way he spoke to the girls in the bar, really did more to redeem his character in one episode than, say, burning a million playbooks ever could….’How I Met Your Mother, or, more accurately, How I Met This Awesome Lady Who’s Really the Love of My Life, Banged Your Mom, Had You Kids, then Ended Up Still Being in Love with that First Woman from 25 Years Ago even though I Kept on Saying I Had Moved On.'”
While I’m glad I was right in my theory that the Mother was dead (if only because I pride myself on being an eagle-eyed TV viewer, and happy to read showrunner tea leaves), this episode left a bad taste in my mouth.
It seems to me that the whole series could have, essentially, ended with this scene:
As Margaret Lyons, TV recapper for Vulture, put it: “But HIMYM made a striking, memorable promise in the pilot — that Robin was not the mother— and this feels like a promise kept only by a technicality. Congratulations on exploiting that loophole. A victory for pedantry, just as the most irritating, least lovable side of Ted Mosby would appreciate.”
Why put us through the stories of Ted and Zoey, Stella, Victoria (the second time), Jeanette, Blah Blah, Cindy, etc., etc., if all roads simply led to Robin? That’s inherently against the premise that was set up in the pilot. Also, for episodes like “Lucky Penny,” or even the season 4 finale when Ted says that if he hadn’t been in that taxi accident, he never would have met the Mother…so what? Really, what did we, the viewer, get from The Mother? A handful of scenes in a season where we spent 20-plus episodes at a wedding whose participants ultimately divorced three years later? A season in which, by the way, Marshall wasn’t even there for half the episodes?
It seems the finale answers one pivotal question: why did the writers ALWAYS circle back to Ted and Robin? Why could they (like Marshall) not let go? The answer seems to be that they were locked into this ending from the start (from multiple reports, the final scene with the kids was taped in 2006). There was no detour from this end, no matter how badly it may have played out.
People were discussing how this would affect being able to watch the reruns. All of those moments when Ted says, “But if I hadn’t done x [gone to that party, picked up that penny, missed that flight, taught that class], I wouldn’t have met your mother.” But really, knowing what I know, all that means is that Ted was wasting considerable time when he could have (should have?) been with Robin. And as much as I was happy to see Robin marry Barney, because I felt they had amazing chemistry (at least, at first), how can I reconcile Ted taking years and years to get over Robin and cede his interest in her to Barney, to his ultimately resorting to the same trick he used in the very first episode?
I’ll leave it to a veteran TV critic to state how I’m feeling better than I am able to express it. But right now? I’m disappointed.
“If “HIMYM” hadn’t been as great as it was in its early days, or as great as it could even be from time to time more recently, I wouldn’t care this much. I wouldn’t be as angry as I am. But there kept being moments in this final season, and throughout this final episode, that reminded me of what the show is capable of, and it only filled me with more despair that we were clearly heading towards the ending I feared was coming ever since “Vesuvius” aired. How, I wondered, could the same two men who wrote that great scene where Barney met his daughter for the first time be so tin-eared in this other area? How could the same writers who absolutely, 100% nailed the moment when Ted and Tracy finally meet on the train platform not realize that they had already undermined it by spending so much of the finale on the dissolution of Robin’s marriage and her leftover feelings for Ted? How could they not see the happy, satisfying ending that was staring them right in the face, and instead do… this?” – Alan Sepinwall