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HIMYM Finale Less Than Legendary

April 3, 2014

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I came late to the How I Met Your Mother party, bingeing on Netflix less than a year ago in order to catch up and watch the final season. As I watched, I was blown away by how smart, funny, original and really just wonderful the show was. With it’s self-referential flashbacks, it’s running gags, and it’s catchphrases that never got old, it really stood out as one of the best comedy shows of all time, in my book. So there was a lot of anticipation for the finale to really wow.

I was left with less “wow” and a little more “huh?”. I watched, laughed, cried, and then at the end, had extremely mixed feelings.

Let’s start with The Mother, Cristin Milioti. Considering that the show only had five regulars for eight years, introducing her as a regular character in the last season was definitely a risk, but we came to love her right away. She was clearly perfect for Ted (Josh Radnor) and watching her meet all the other cast members before finally meeting Ted was a really fun way to get to know her. So when they hinted a few episodes ago that she was going to die, it was kind of a weird moment that we were waiting to see paid off in the finale.  

Except it never was. We don’t actually see The Mother die, they just reference it, almost as a throwaway to get to what I guess was the plan all along: Ted ending up with Robin (Cobie Smulders). I’ll get to that in a minute. The fact that we were introduced to this character, fell in love with her the way we knew Ted would, and then were not even allowed to say goodbye felt like a huge rip-off.  What was the point of this character if she was really only a plot point on the love story between Robin and Ted? Nine seasons of wanting Ted to find the right woman and when he finally does, she gets tossed aside after a few flash forwards and a hastily contrived death.  I call shenanigans.

So Robin and Ted end up together at the end after all. This should have been so ridiculously satisfying. But it really wasn’t. After all, these two are Ross and Rachel, Sam and Diane. They were clearly supposed to wind up together, despite all the troubles in the way. But if it was going to happen, it should have happened long before Ted met The Mother. It really should have happened when Ted got the locket for Robin, proving that he was the man for her, not Barney (Neil Patrick Harris).  

And let’s talk about Robin and Barney for a moment. Barney’s proposal felt completely out of the blue, but we went with it, because if he and Robin are together, then Ted can find The Mother, and we have three happy couples living as friends until the end of their days. Except not, because Robin and Barney get divorced three years after the wedding.  AN ENTIRE SEASON devoted to a wedding where the couple breaks up in a flash forward an episode later. I’m sorry. That’s just really not okay with me.

Okay so now Robin and Ted are both single. Six years after The Mother dies, Ted finishes telling his kids the story, and they tell him to go get “Aunt Robin”. (Cause it wouldn’t be at all weird for your kids to call a close personal friend “aunt” and then encourage you to go date her. Nope. Completely normal.) This is the part that I like. He goes and gets the blue horn for her again, bringing the series full circle. In a way, this is, of course, how it should end: Ted and Robin together. But it kind of feels hollow, like The Mother meant nothing. If the entire story is about how Ted finds the love of his life, but it was Robin all along, then The Mother’s importance should not have been put so high. It should have been downplayed significantly.  Yeah, I wanted Ted and Robin together, but the way it happened just felt….wrong.

There were definitely some finale high notes in the episode though. Barney telling his baby daughter that she is the love of his life was incredibly moving, and the perfect “end” for his character, who finally grows up. Lily (Alyson Hannigan) saying goodbye to the empty apartment was a finale staple that I definitely appreciated, since we all had to say goodbye to that apartment too. And Marshall (Jason Segel) finally getting the judgeship he’d always been destined for was a great cap to his story.

Ultimately, though, I was disappointed. A show that was so perfect in every way really should have ended stronger.

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