So that’s how it ends. The story of these 5 friends we have been following for 9 years has reached it’s conclusion and in some ways it’s exactly what I thought and in other ways, it’s nothing like I thought would happen. One thing is for certain, people will be talking (and screaming) about this finale for days to come. It was that kind of ending. I imagine most people loved it or hated it. Judging by the early comments, people LOATHED it. However I am not one of them. Was it my favorite finale ever? Not even close. Was it as bad as Dexter’s finale? Not even close. But enough with the broad strokes. Let’s dive into this and if you haven’t seen tonight’s finale, stop reading now and come back when you have.
I have mixed feelings on this finale. There were parts I loved and parts I didn’t and parts I was indifferent about. But since this was a very polarizing finale, I can see how people would lean one way or the other. I mean come on. We just spent THE ENTIRE SEASON on the weekend of Barney and Robin’s wedding only to have them be divorced 20 minutes into the finale. Hence one of the parts I didn’t like. If you were just going to break them up, couldn’t we have spent, maybe, oh I don’t know, 6-8 episodes on the wedding weekend and the remaining 14-16 episodes on the aftermath and subsequent years and maybe a little more on Ted and Tracy (Question #1 answered….Mother’s name is Tracy.) In some ways I feel like I wasted 20+ episodes this season by having this build to a wedding that ultimately didn’t matter. I would have rather spent more time getting know Tracy a little bit more since technically the show is about her. It would have also made the scene where we learn that our fears raised in “Vesuvius” came to fruition…Tracy gets sick and passes away…much more powerful because we have been closer to her. Not to mention, since Ted has been searching for this woman for as long as we’ve known him, it would have been nice to see Ted grieve the loss of his wife instead of it being mentioned as an after thought. But it just goes to show you how awesome Cristin Miloti is. I fell in love with her the minute I saw her. She was perfect for Ted. We got to see some snippets of that over this season, but not enough for my liking. But in the brief time we did get her, she made the most of it and made the audience fall completely for her the way Ted did. And maybe that was exactly the point. It’s pretty obvious this was the plan from the beginning. Penny and Luke (Question #2 answered….the names of Ted’s kids) who were played by Lyndsy Fonseca and David Henrie, had to film those scenes at the end of Season 1 because if the show lasted a long time (which it did), they couldn’t show them aged on the couch 9 years later since this is supposed to be a story told in one sitting. So if that is what they filmed 9 years ago, this was always the plan. It explains why Tracy didn’t show up until this season. It explains why even when she was here, we only got bits and pieces of her. Because even thought the show was called How I Met Your Mother, it was never about the mother. This was the story of Ted and Robin. The mom was the red herring the whole time. You can look at that one of two ways. You can love the story told in a way that we didn’t see coming (although my husband called it last week) or you can feel completely betrayed by the absolute misrepresentation of the series. Either way, you’d be correct in your feelings. But were the writers correct in staying the course?
There is something to be said for laying out a series game plan and sticking with it because that’s your vision and that’s the story you want to tell. But then I think you need to define how long that story lasts because to me, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t have a series go on and on and have the story and audience reaction to characters take you down a path you didn’t expect only to rip their hearts out later because it didn’t fit your original plan. If you have a plan, make a 5-6 year plan. But if you’re willing to let the story go where characters, actors, and/or fans take you, then you need to be flexible. Even though you filmed those scenes with Fonseca and Henrie way back when, you didn’t have to use them. It could have been something for the box set of DVDs “see what the writers originally planned to do!!!” That’s good marketing people! I guess that’s why I’m so curious about not just the finale but the whole final season. If this was the plan you were sticking to, which I don’t mind as much as other people do, then WHY do an entire season on the wedding of a couple destined to fail? Why try to cram the next 15+ years of stories and bombshells into 60 minutes? The wedding could have been done in 6-7 episodes and then we could have had another 14-15 episodes to learn more about the mother, their relationship, her impending demise and Ted’s grief over that and how it impacted him. Because that is something I would have wanted to see. This is a man who has been searching for love his whole life. Since we’ve known Ted, he’s a romantic and he loves being in love. So to lose the “love of his life” (which now is up for debate) and not see anything from the character on how that impacted him, I think strays from the true character of Ted. We were there when Marshall and Lily broke up and then got back together. We were there when Marshall and Lily got married. We were there when they debated about having children and then watched them bring Marvin, Daisy, and #3 into the picture. We were there when Barney met his birth father. We were there when Robin found out she couldn’t have children. We were there when Ted was left at the altar by Stella. We were there when Marshall’s dad passed away. So how in the world can we not be there when Ted loses Tracy? I feel so robbed as a fan. That’s what upsets me the most. There were so many moments in the finale where we could have had more and the writers had the time to do it with this final season and chose not to. Instead we got Billy Zabka (although that doesn’t bother me as much because I love me some Billy Zabka), Daphne, Gary Blauman, Cassie, and other pointless characters when we could have spent more time on our Fab 5 and Tracy since this will be the last time we see them. That’s what I’m most disappointed in.
As for the ending and the writers choosing to have Ted and Robin be together at last, that didn’t bother me as much as other people. After all, the show is “How I Met Your Mother” not “How I Spend The Rest of my Life With Your Mother.” Because for a long time, I really liked Ted and Robin together and was secretly hoping she was mother somehow and someway. But I also thought she was great with Barney in a lot of ways. Hats off to Cobie Smulders because that woman had chemistry with everyone! And I’m ok with the show runners giggling to themselves to have this be the rug the pull out from under us. As a fan of TV, I like when a show surprises me and throws a fun twist (as long as it makes sense….yes I’m looking at you St Elsewhere.) I mean, I was one of those people who would scream when they would revisit the Ted/Robin pairing over the course of the series because ultimately we know they don’t end up together. So what was the point right? Well, now we know. Now we know why after determining they aren’t right together, bad timing, hook ups, break ups, dating, not dating, longing looks…..it was all because they were meant to be together. And while I’m ok with that, I still have to raise my eyebrows at a few things. First, why have that ceremonial moment on the beach with Robin and Ted where Ted finally let’s Robin go? Because if you’re still going to have a thing for her after all this time, then you haven’t let her go. It also made me think, if you’re really over her, then why are you moving to Chicago? And since the writers knew this was the path, why have that scene? Second, why did Robin need to be with Barney? I mean she married one of his best friends. Couldn’t she have just been the career person now and that’s why she couldn’t be with Ted as well as Ted meeting Tracy? If the answer is because they needed a wedding to get Ted to meet Tracy and to show with Barney’s character that being married really isn’t for him….fine. He could have married the stripper girl he was engaged to. He didn’t have to marry Robin. I’m not sure why the writers would get many fans invested in Robin and Barney only to have it crash and burn. Barney and the stripper could have crashed and burned with the same results. So why get the audience invested in Robin and Barney only to know that the end game is Robin and Ted? Robin could have been with someone else or alone with her career. She didn’t have to be with Barney if the end game was Ted. Finally, when Ted is in MacLaren’s on the phone with Tracy and Marshall is pissed because here’s Ted falling for another girl and going too fast, Lily is sitting there with a huge smile on her face and tells Marshall…this time it’s different. After Victoria, Stella, and yes, even Robin, Tracy invoked a reaction out of Ted that was unlike any other woman ever has indicating to me, that she was his soul mate and one true love. Again, why have that line and that moment if ROBIN is really his one true love? Maybe I’m missing the point. Maybe the point isn’t that Tracy or Robin are his soul mate but that they both are. It’s the only thing that makes sense. Because if it’s just Robin, then the other parts about Ted and Tracy don’t make sense. And if it’s just Tracy, then the end of the story doesn’t make sense. So I guess the only thing that does is that BOTH women are Ted’s true loves. That while Ted has been searching and searching and fearing that he’ll never meet anyone he can share his life with, he was blessed (or cursed) to have two women he could love completely and spend his days with. It certainly is a more real world scenario. But is that what the audience wants? Judging by initial reactions, I don’t think so.
Ultimately I wanted closure for my Fab 5. And whether you liked it or not, that’s exactly what you got. Marshall and Lily are back in NYC with baby #3 and Marshall finally got to be a judge after giving it up for Lily in 2014. I had no doubt Marshmallow and Lily Pad would have a solid, happy ending because they have been solid since the pilot. Even with all their ups and downs, NO ONE ever doubted that these two would be together forever. In my mind, they were the heart and soul of the show, especially Lily. As for Barney, he went back to being single and finally told his friends what I thought he should have said years ago….that basically he’s not the settling down type of guy. He likes having throngs of women coming in and out of his life with no commitment. It’s who he is and he’s very happy like that so as his friends they should accept him for who he is and be happy for him. And they were. But after the perfect month (LOL) Barney finds out he got Day 31 pregnant. Actually I’m surprised this never happened before with all the girls he’s slept with over the years. While in typical Barney fashion, we don’t know the mother’s name and he really wants no part of this, he gets introduced to his new baby….a girl…Ellie. Turns out Barney is a one woman guy. It just so happens that the woman in his life, the love of his life, is his baby girl. And the always amazing Neil Patrick Harris just completely blows this scene away and gives us one of the most beautiful moments on the show when he tells his daughter the following:
You are the love of my life. Everything I have and everything I am, is yours. Forever.
I mean come on. If you are crying after that you have to be a little dead inside. It was such a beautiful moment. The other fantastically beautiful moment in the episode was when Ted and Tracy met for the first time on the Farhampton train tracks. Talk about a meet cute!!! It was so sweet and a great nod to many of the clues dropped over the years…the mom being in the Econ 305 class Ted accidentally thought was his Architecture 101 class, her being Cindy’s roommate, losing the yellow umbrella on St Patrick’s Day….it was perfect. Then the reveal of her name, Tracy McConnell, because the initials T.M were on the umbrella and Ted and Tracy “fought” over whose initials they really were. I loved it. It was everything I could have imagined for their first meeting and more. And I did like the ending. Since they decided to stay the course and put Robin and Ted together in the end, I think they wrapped it up well with Robin being in her apartment with the same breed of dogs, Ted being downstairs, Robin opening up her window to see him (with the dogs peeking out) and Ted shows her the Blue French Horn. Again, a great nod to the pilot to have everything come full circle.
Look, I know many people are disappointed in how this turned out. No one wanted to see Tracy die and Robin be back in the fold, except for the die-hard Ted and Robin shippers. I think a lot of people feel duped. And that’s why the finale is a hard one to wrap my head around because you can look at it a few ways. You can look at it and say that if that was the plan all along, ok. I applaud the writers sticking to their guns and telling the story they wanted to tell. There are many people out there with an early idea of a show but then let it just roll and see where it goes with no real end game. Not these guys. So I respect that. There are still lots of things I would have done differently but overall, I can’t be unhappy with how everything resolved itself. Especially since this is something that happens in the real world….people fall in love with multiple people all the time. People lose their spouse and reconnect with old flames…it happens. In the end, Ted got what he always wanted and I think people want to see that for his character. OR…you can look at it and say, WHAT THE HELL WERE THESE GUYS THINKING? Once the show went longer than expected, once you see how the actors (Smulders and Radnor & Smulders and Harris) played off of one another and their chemistry, once you see the audience’s reaction to story lines….change it!!! You don’t have to stay the course if another one, a better one (matter of opinion) presents itself. Maybe they felt backed into a corner with the “and that’s how I met your Aunt Robin” line. Maybe because the kids reaction was filmed 9 years ago, they felt they had no other choice but to end the story this way. But these guys were creative and smart and I think could have figured out a way around it. Hell, they could have put an aged Fonseca and Henrie on the couch and said “Jesus dad. That story took so long, we aged 20 years!” Maybe they didn’t want to. Ultimately, I hope the 60 minutes of last night (and even this last season) doesn’t put too much of a damper on what was truly a great series with an amazing cast and creative team. I spent 9 years with this crew…many of whom are my age. All I wanted to see was them happy and together. While most of the episode last night showed them fractured, in the end, the gang was back together, as they should be, and in the end, we know they all ended up happy. Whether or not it was a viewers definition of happy is another story, but the writers showed us a group of friends who loved each other and supported each other and were there for each other, altogether and happy…and that’s how a series like this should wrap up.
So what did you think? Did you love it? Hate it? Confused by it? Content with it? I’d love to hear what you have to say!