Guest Review How I Met Your Mother Season Finale Series Finale

How I Met Your Mother 9×23 – Last Forever (Series Finale)

“And that, kids...is how I met your mother.”

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Chris’ Take
Umm, no. No, no, no… Just NO!

Not cool, guys. Not cool at all. The fact is, parting ways with How I Met Your Mother was going to sting regardless of its ending. But it would’ve hurt a lot less had it ended a lot differently.

The internet immediately went nuts just moments after the credits rolled, and having watched it without any spoilers, it’s safe to say I went nuts too. Because nothing in the series finale went the way I had hoped. Not a single thing.

The episode’s first 30 minutes were easily some of this entire series’ best, and every time I go back and watch Ted and Lily have their E.T. goodbye, I cry my eyes out. I can’t possibly say this enough—Alyson Hannigan is a goddess, and the only woman who can get me to cry along with her. In fact, looking back on her scene with Robin at that Halloween party (which was also a goodbye-apartment party), she might have made me shed a few tears then too.

Robin. Oh boy, I hate how much I love this fictional character. She has had some of the best character development on this show, unlike Barney (we’ll get to that, kids). She loved Barney, but she loved her work too. And just 15 minutes into the finale, the two of them got a divorce (thanks for wasting my time watching season nine, by the way). That right there, was the first punch in the stomach. Unlike how I feel about this entire episode as a whole, I am not confused as to how I feel about Robin and Barney not ending up together. They were freakin’ perfect for each other. And if the writers didn’t think they were, then why the hell would they make it seem that way (the engagement, the rehearsal dinner, SEASON NINE, etc.)? Since the beginning, I had always been a Ted/Robin fan. Then season eight came and I realized that Robin belonged with Barney. Period.

Speaking of Barney, has any character in the history of television been treated with this amount of inconsistency? The fact that he went back to becoming a dirty womanizer who created the Playbook 2 and wanted to achieve the “perfect month” was another punch in the stomach. It was so exhausting to watch the old Barney again, and I can’t think of any fan who wanted to see that in the show’s final episode which also saw Robin drifting apart from the group. Bamn, another punch.

Through a series of flash-forwards starting from the doomed wedding, the gang got torn apart a little bit each year. It was amusing at first to see how their lives were going because we knew the final moment would have to be in the year 2030. The Mother (who now has a name to my dismay: Tracy McConnell!) was as adorable as ever, especially in the scene where Ted was re-proposing to her and she kept interrupting him with a joyful “YES”. Marshall and Lilly became the parents of three kids and moved into a bigger place. Robin became a famous journalist and would only see the gang a few times a year. Barney got a one-night stand pregnant and ultimately his little daughter became the love of his life. The Mother got sick and died. And then Ted told his kids that the story was over.

Had the show ended right there and then, I would’ve been fine (even if it meant no Robin/Barney reconciliation). But the final two minutes of the series almost gave me a heart attack; Ted went back to Robin’s place in 2030 (after being urged by his kids) and stood outside her apartment with a blue French horn.

That was not cool. It was heart-breaking (not in the sense that it was just sad, but in the sense that it felt like our chests were being cracked open and our hearts were being pulled out). First, killing the Mother was as brutal as the show could be. It was a creative and impressive decision, and despite theories that expected this to happen, I think we all actually still thought she wasn’t going to die. But she did. And it was a beautifully filmed, tearjerker moment that changed the course of the entire show within seconds. Because something in me knew that killing her off was going to bring Ted and Robin back together, and I can’t say this enough—I am not amused.

In a way, though, this episode as a whole managed to be as legendary as the show has always been: funny, tearful and outrageous. It worked—it was easily the best way this show could’ve possibly ended: by being memorable. The final moments did not affect my reaction to the series as a whole—and if they did, any reaction from me would be admiration. This show has gone out of its way to prove just how crazy, shocking and ultimately incredibly creative it can be. Try naming another sitcom that has created this much buzz for being so bold and controversial, among other things. Until then, leave your reactions about Ted, Robin and the stupid French horn aside before you say that How I Met Your Mother didn’t end with a bang.

Slaps & Bits

-Beautiful start with a flashback to September 2005 with the gang getting to know Robin for the first time. That was, by far, the show’s “perfect” scene.

-Amusing touch: Marshall pays Lilly when they are at the bar on their way to Ted’s wedding. I guess Marshall was saying in his head “not yet” at that moment.

-The final scene with the kids in 2030 was shot way back in season one so that the actors playing Ted’s kids wouldn’t have aged. However, I see no reason why the writers felt the need to still use that scene and break Robin/Barney up just for the sake of not changing the story they had envisioned back in season one. What a cop-out. (Yes, I am still angry.)

-I loved these amazing callbacks: Ted and Robin’s heart-to-heart at the roof from season 1’s Halloween episode, the return of “Have you met Ted?”, high-fives, Lily’s “son of a beech”, Cockamouse (my personal favorite), Not-A-Father’s Day, Robots vs Wrestlers, and the yellow umbrella.

-Neil Patrick Harris was outstanding in his scene with his newborn daughter. His performance, along with the line he says, was brilliant. I think I might’ve loved this finale after all.

-The Mother (I mean, Tracy) takes a picture of the gang one last time on the day of her and Ted’s wedding. Personally, I thought the picture was a little awkward: it didn’t even look like these people were ever friends! How sad. Stupid writers, ugh.

-Seriously, Ted’s “meeting with the Mother” for the first time at the train station was breathtaking. Josh Radnor and Cristin Milioti have amazing chemistry.

-The end credits with each of the cast from the Pilot (and Milioti) was nostalgic and sweet. Makes you forget about that cop-out ending; no, just kidding, it doesn’t.

-So, how do you guys feel about the finale? Are you just as confused as I am?

Conclusion
The series finale of How I Met Your Mother proved to be daring, controversial and soul-crushing all at the same time. Truly, a memorable yet crazy yet also upsetting finish.

Chris Rating
WTF

Nad’ s Take
WTF indeed. Thank you for starting out Chris. It’s a pity that this finale stumbled because it got a lot of things right.

First off, I love that the writers had the guts to kill off the Mother (although there really was no need to give her a name). It’s a powerful move, and it explains why Ted’s been telling his kids this story for so long; it was a way of remembering the wonderful journey that lead to that epic meeting. I think my heart broke to a million pieces when he said that”she got sick”. But I accepted it, because it was so well-executed. Even their scene on the train platform was just beyond charming and marvelous (talk about magnetic chemistry). However…

I don’t get it; why go to such great lengths to convince us that Barney and Robin are perfect for each other over the course of the last few seasons, only to have them divorce so quickly and not make them an endgame couple? What about Ted and Robbin? Didn’t the writers dedicate SO many episodes to showing us how bad they were for each other? Robin never really loved Ted, and I feel like in the end, she just settles because they’re both lonely. This turn of events really rubbed me the wrong way, and although the writers apparently planned this ending from the pilot, it sure as hell didn’t feel that way over the course of the show. It felt like a last-minute decision, and that makes the conclusion sort of a misfire in my eyes.

On the bright side, the finale gorgeously emphasized the heartbreaking reality of friends drifting apart and moving on with their lives (this was a truth that both Desperate Housewives and Friends also tackled poignantly, although I think How I Met Your Mother did it best). Robin’s speech to Lilly in the empty apartment was spectacular, and it culminated with a downright haunting moment as Lilly was left standing in that whale suit. It was impeccable, and enormously affecting.

Slaps & Bits

– Love the juxtaposition of them the gang welcoming Robin into the group in the flashback (where Barney also announced he wanted to bang her), with Barney and Robin getting married in the present.

– I freaked adored Ted’s “Just be cool lady, damn!”. I’m going to start using that line immediately.

– Lilly and Marshall were as wonderful as always. It’s so satisfying to have a consistent couple free of needless drama on television.

– Alyson Hannigan was incredible. I love how attached she was to the “big moments” in life.

– Cockamouse!!! Epic continuity bit.

– Barney’s transformation was a bit much no? He became a player again until his daughter changed him (and I thought that scene was overkill) and he started telling girls to clean up and dress better.  “Number 31” made me laugh though – reminded me of Blah Blah.

Conclusion
Although there was a time where I wanted nothing more than for Ted and Robin to end up together, I can’t entirely LOVE this finale. But I guess the show’s success got in the way;  the writers ended up throwing too many unnecessary twists and turns into the love triangle, and the eventual conclusion didn’t end up feeling like it was truly meant to be. Will it taint my memory of the show like Lost (another show that fumbled its mystery)? I don’t think so, but How I Met Your Mother‘s series finale should have been majestic. Instead, it was just alright. And isn’t that a bit disappointing?

Nad Rating
B

12 comments

  1. I think this is an unusual case of a show NOT benefiting from forward planning. I love it when shows plan their endgame and slowly walk towards that. That makes some of the best TV out there. In this case though I think what happened is that this ending was planned in season 1, back when everyone wanted Robin and Ted to finally happen and the writers didn't think they'd get 9 years. They thought they'd get 3-4 tops and you can keep momentum going for that long, so this ending might have worked. I definitely wanted them to end up together back in season 2. But then they got their Britney episode, it put them on the map, and became a juggernaut and were renewed… ad nauseum. They got time to develop and mature their characters though and we realized Robin just made more sense with Barney and the show benefitted from the renewed interest in actually finding the mother. Annnnnd then we hit a snake in the final ep, and that snake lead us back to square 1.

  2. Perfectly stated. Indeed this was definitely a case of “forward planning” ruining the show. It's just a pity the writers didn't realize that maybe they should have altered their endgame when so much changed over the years (even if the original scene was filmed, they could have cut around it).

  3. Love your intake, Nadim! I think now that it's been a few days, I'm starting to get around the idea of it, and it has definitely become easier for me to accept. How I Met Your Mother was a HUGE part of my life, and I was just a little kid when I started watching it, so I have no idea what I'm going to do now without it.

    I watched its replacement “Friends With Better Lives”–da hell was that? Lol. I can't see it going past season 1. Total garbage!

  4. I thought that the fact that the ending was so controversial and got people talking so much about it is a success on it own… No better way to end a show (unless you're Lost).

    At the risk of sounding smug, but I so knew that Robin and Ted were going to end up together. And when I started watching the finale, the fact that they opened with the scene from 2005, with Robin's induction into the gang, ever so confirmed it!

    But I guess that had the show not ended this way, then it would have ended with Ted and the mother (really TM? really!?) holding hands and walking into the sunset and living happily ever after… I'm pretty sure everyone would agree that that would have been a disappointing ending! I like Chris' idea of ending it after she passed away, but you want a comedy to end on a happy less somber note..

    I just really really disliked the fact that two people who were meant to end up together could not do so until a third party died… The writers should have written it in a better way, like perhaps splitting them a la Robin and Barney or whatever.. The idea is that Ted and Robin were destined to end up together and each one of them realized that at a different time than the time that they should have. Yet they did not end up together until “the obstacle” was out of the picture.. So bad!

    Oh and one last thing… I really would have thought Bob Saget (as annoying as he is) would have made a cameo appearance or something, as an homage for narrating for all those years. He wasn't even mentioned in those closing credits…

    And with that ends my rant and what was for the most part a great show… (Thanks Chris for mentioning that we should not attempt to replace it with FWBL)..

  5. Haha thanks for your input, Tarek! I totally agree that had the show just ended with Ted and the Mother and that happily-ever-after scenario, it wouldn't have been such an epic send-off for a show that's meant so much more to me and almost everyone else. The writers were bold and insane enough to give us an ending that we'll be talking about for a long time, and at the same time, that is kind of sweet. They were destined to be together, whether we like it or not. It's time for us to calm down, lol.

    You're welcome about that FWBL thing! Don't know if you've watched it yet, but in case you haven't then DON'T bother. It's another typical “friends hanging out” kind of sitcom with way too many cheesy sex jokes and terrible writing. Sigh.

    Now what the hell is gonna get us through our Monday nights?

  6. I know I am very late to the party but I just got the chance to watch the finale and I am not pleased at all!

    I definitely agree with both of your reviews, I mean why convince us that Ted and Robin will never work out only to have them back together at the end? And why convince us that Barney and Robin are perfect for one another (a whole season just dedicated to that!) only to have them divorce at the end? And why throw away all of Barney's character development?

    It was sad knowing that the mother did actually die in the end but I wasn't mad about that part. What is sad is that the mother's character (and Cristin Milioti herself) is so freaking adorable (that scene on the train platform was one of my favorites) and she is so perfect for Ted (these 2 have such great chemistry), but we didn't get a chance to grasp the fact that she died and get over it. We were immediately forced into seeing Ted trying to win Robin back which was not cool!!

  7. Great post Tarek. Thank you for your insight, especially about the “Death” aspect. Looking forward to reading more of your comments 🙂

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