HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER Series Finale: Some Thoughts | Give Me My Remote

HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER Series Finale: Some Thoughts

April 1, 2014 by  

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[This post contains massive, massive, massive spoilers for the series finale of HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER. If you have somehow managed to avoid them all, and intend to stay spoiler-free, I’d advise against reading this post.]

It’s been a couple of hours since I’ve seen the HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER series finale, and I’ve found myself a bit numb to it.

Honestly, even though most of the events of the finale weren’t a massive surprise, I was still annoyed. I watched with lovely friends, most of whom had all seen it (and threatened to tape my reactions), and one of the blessings of that was we were able to talk out the finale, versus me immediately sitting down and cursing. (I’ll also admit to stalking the #HIMYMfinale tag on Twitter. I may have frustrations, but boy, many on Twitter were downright livid.)

If allowed, I could probably go on for hours about the finale, but I wanted to get to a few of the things that did and didn’t work for me…

What didn’t work:

  • Are you telling me we spent an ENTIRE SEASON chained to this wedding weekend format for the marriage to be over within like 15 minutes of the next episode? Seriously? (I get the point of the wedding was for Ted to meet the mother. But they could have done the weekend in one or two episodes.)
  • And to that point, if Robin and Ted were endgame — which became even more apparent when I rewatched the pilot hours before the finale, and I’m honestly surprised we didn’t get a shot of them with Ted’s perfect wedding in any of the flashforwards — why waste so much of the final seasons retreading Robin and Barney? They’ve been teasing this wedding for years — why not marry Barney off to Nora? Or someone else? It seems a bit fan-baiting to do what they did.
  • One of the side effects of the Robin/Barney relationship was that, for me, Ted’s non-stop back and forth with whether he was OK with that relationship ruined any iota of interest I had in Robin/Ted. I was never a huge fan of theirs, but I got the appeal. But by having both Ted and Robin waiver for years about where they stood, only to come to a peace when she got engaged to Barney — but not really, because Ted almost immediately changed his mind, and then she got cold feet and they kept going back and forth and argh. It was sweet when Ted made his romantic gestures towards Robin in the show’s early years. I felt nothing when he came to her window in the finale. Based on their behavior for nine seasons, there’s no reason for me to think Ted and Robin are actually together, in, say, 2035.
  • I hated that they killed Tracy, AKA the Mother. I discussed this a bit a few weeks ago, and even that was before we saw her wonderful first date/kiss with Ted. In many ways, it feels like if they wanted to kill off the mother, they should have stuck firm to their original plan of eight seasons and refused to do more. Losing Tracy after meeting her for only a few minutes would have been bittersweet. But this? I can’t — and won’t — speak for all fans, but for most of my friends and myself, Cristin Milioti’s performance as the Mother was one of the best parts of this season. We had a year to fall in love with this character and this relationship. (And learn about her tragic backstory. Come on. She needed a break.) If they were determined to kill her off, spotlighting all of her amazingness probably wasn’t the best move to make the decision any less brutal. Especially since she had been dead for six years by the time Ted started telling the story.
  • How did it take seven years — and TWO KIDS — for Ted to marry Tracy? Even if she was pregnant, how did Ted freakin’ Mosby not make it clear he would marry her any time, any place, etc. That might have been the most shocking part of the finale.
  • While I totally get why Robin couldn’t be a big part of Ted and Barney’s life, her isolation from Lily was just plain sad, and seemed fairly out of left-field.
  • Oy, it was so obvious the stuff with the kids was shot years ago.
  • Television is a unique medium in that very, very, very few other pieces of work have to be crafted without knowing exactly when it will end. (Not to mention which actors will be around, etc.) HIMYM painted itself into a bit of a corner with that. On one hand, I respect the hell out of Craig Thomas and Carter Bays for making a plan very early on in the series and sticking to it. (The footage of the kids reacting to the end of the story was shot in season 2 of the series.) The number of shows that have crafted that specific of an end and stuck to it after running that many seasons is very slim.

    However, there’s also a danger in that: shows are in many ways, a living, breathing, growing beast. When they crafted that ending, they couldn’t have known the series would last nine seasons. (Again, they only planned eight. They went into last season thinking it was their end.) They couldn’t have known how amazingly Milioti would work on the series. They likely didn’t know that Robin and Barney would click as well as they did. By making a decision in season 1 and steadfastly sticking to it, the writers essentially handcuffed themselves and only allowed the characters to grow in the direction they set them out on originally, versus seeing what worked and rolling with it. There is no right answer here, but it’s a problem that’s pretty uniquely television-centric.

  • It’s kind of crazy that out of all the characters, the only one I feel I got proper closure on was Barney. Sure, the show blatantly disregarded years of emotional growth as soon as he got divorced, but they got more mileage out of him becoming a father than anything else. I felt more closure for Marshall and Lily in the episode we found out she was pregnant than in the series finale. Tracy’s actual death felt super rushed, almost as if they hoped people who were only quasi-paying attention might miss it. And that’s not to mention how long Ted had been thinking about going after Robin, or how long Robin had been back in New York.
  • So, how mad do you think the writers were when DEFINITELY, MAYBE came out and basically beat them to the punch by six years because of the nature of television? (Spoiler alert for that movie: the mom wasn’t dead, but the point of the story was while the father was telling the story of how he met his kid’s mom, the kid pointed out that her dad was still in love with one of his exes.)

What did work:

  • The meeting scene was absolutely beautiful. For as beautiful as most of the Ted/Mother scenes were, the fact that Thomas and Bays were able to nail that initial meeting with the right amount of “this is it” and genuine payoff for the audience and characters is impressive.
  • Barney meeting his daughter? Wow. One of Neil Patrick Harris’ (Barney) very best scenes of the series.
  • I might not be wildly pleased with the finale, but I don’t think it ruined the series as a whole for me. I can’t see myself watching any Mother-heavy or Mother-significant episodes any time soon, but the finale did not taint the show for me.
  • I didn’t care for Robin and Barney’s breakup, but I did appreciate that it mirrored Robin and Ted’s first breakup.
  • The goodbye between the core five characters at the wedding was funny and touching.
  • Ted and a tiny version of his daughter running into Robin was adorable.

(And look, I’m sure there’s more that did work, but right now, those first three are the only significant things that keep repeating in my mind.)

But that’s just my take. And for what it’s worth this is what Thomas tweeted a few hours after the episode aired:

 

 

 

 

But what did you think of the finale? Are you OK with where things left off?

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Comments

4 Responses to “HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER Series Finale: Some Thoughts”

  1. Noora on April 1st, 2014 9:54 am

    If that was the ending they always intended, they wrote the series all wrong. They should have either stuck to their guns throughout or had the sense to realise the ending didn’t fit. Now all it seems like is that Ted settled for Tracy because Robin married Barney, he got the kids Robin couldn’t give him, then after Tracy died, being Ted he can’t handle being alone, and hey since Robin’s single let’s just revisit that whole unhealthy relationship. “Oh, but Tracy moved on to Ted after Max!” Yeah, she wasn’t in love with him throughout her relationship with Max. They also completely destroyed all of Barney’s character development, and Lily was only good for another baby – what happened to her career? They just totally ignored it. Which is fine, except that Lily WANTED to have a career AND the family. It was just bad.

  2. Jim Mosby on April 1st, 2014 2:02 pm

    As a former recapper here and one of the original HUGE fans of the show, I feel vindicated that my theory from all of the way back when we first had an inkling that Robin was not the mother was 100,000% right.

    As a fan, I’m LIVID. This was TERRIBLE. Horrible. I would like to send out a giant screw you to Carter and Craig. Screw you!

    My disappointment is at levels unknown to the TV world for me. At least The Office’s end left you feeling all was well. The end to this series left me feeling like all was not well. I just don’t trust Ted and Robin. Never will. Never can. They are no more right for each other than Barney and Robin were for each other.

    UGH.

  3. Lily L on April 1st, 2014 4:15 pm

    I hated it!

    I haven’t bought into the Robin/Ted relationship in a long time. I never, ever sensed that she could really be happy with him, which made her NOT the one for him.

    I bought into Robin/Barney, a lot. I hated their first breakup. When they announced the divorce in the finale I was *POSITIVE* they’d undo it- I even went to Twitter joking that it must be a red herring. I don’t believe for a second that the two of them didn’t have enough love for each other to make it, and they certainly had enough $ to make the logistics work out.

    I’m sorry, but getting Barney to that point, where he was willing to get married, and then rip it away and turn him back into a man whore is an insult to the viewers who kept that damn show on the air. NPH *carried* that show, and to give him such a rushed, sad ending was awful. Yes, the moment with his daughter was beautiful, but it wasn’t very believable. First- even Barney wouldn’t abandon a pregnant woman. Second- we were supposed to accept the divorce, believe Barney went back to his old ways (which to me showed that he didn’t want to be divorced!) and then believe his entire world changed in a 45 second scene?

    Maybe if they had given that moment a little more time- you know, like the ENDLESS scenes of Marshall trying to get to the wedding- it would have been different. But this is just the worst.

    So, I hope Craig Thomas has enough money to last him a while, because I won’t touch anything he does with a 10 foot pole. He just shat on the very people that kept that show on the air.

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