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'How I Met Your Mother' series finale recap: Some things don't change

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With the Monday, March 31 episode, "Last Forever Parts One and Two," "How I Met Your Mother" comes to an end, and honestly, it's a bit disappointing and predictable.

Barney and Robin's marriage The "HIMYM" series finale opens up with a flashback to September 2005, two months after Robin moved to the city, and Lily declares her part of the gang and tells Ted and Barney they can't have sex with her unless they marry her. Let's then jump to the wedding weekend and the reception, and Robin and Barney are dancing and happy.

Then let's jump forward to 2015, as Ted's planning his and The Mother's wedding, and Robin's job calls for them to travel a lot, and despite how much Barney says it's great, it's really, really not. And in May 2016, after both say a trip to Argentina was great, they reveal that all their fights about her job taking them everywhere and him being unable to really start up his blog has led to a divorce. But don't worry, their marriage was a successful one…of three years…and they don't have to pick sides because they promise to always be there for the big moments.

Robin and Lily's friendship Despite the reassurance that they'll be around for the big moments, Robin just appears randomly, to the point that they compare her to a Sasquatch – or a Yeti, cold and aloof. After showing up to a rooftop Halloween party and seeing Barney flirting with slutty cops and Ted happy with The Mother, Robin basically ends the group's friendship even as she promises Lily that their friendship isn't over.

Robin can't just hang around with the married couple having a third kid she doesn't see anymore, her ex-husband back to his old ways, and the guy she should've ended up with with the mother of his child, she explains. The hanging out at the bar, being young and stupid part of their lives is over, and the hug goodnight seems like a hug goodbye as Robin leaves Lily alone in the sad, empty apartment.

After that, Robin really seems to just disappear, only suddenly showing up on the street as Ted tells Penny about the GNB (Penny even just calls her "bus lady," showing she's really not part of their lives) and then later on the day of Ted and The Mother's wedding after The Mother called her and convinced her to come, at which point Lily tells the others to keep her in sight.

Lily and Marshall's marriage Despite their hiccups, their relationship is stable throughout the years of the finale. They have a third kid, realize it's time they move out of the apartment with their first two already sharing a room and Marshall not only becomes a judge, he's also running for State Supreme Court.

Barney finally grows up After telling the others that he wants them to just accept him for who he is – the Barney who has a new Playbook and will never change since he couldn't go the distance with Robin – Barney pulls off a Perfect Month only for the 31 to end up pregnant. However, it all changes when he meets his daughter for the first time, and finally, we have a Barney that isn't going to spend his life in bars trying to pick up women half his age. "You are the love of my life," he says as he falls in love with his daughter. "Everything I have and everything I am is yours. Forever." After that, he's the guy sending girls home to change, think about their lives and call their parents.

Ted and The Mother's relationship At Barney and Robin's wedding reception, Ted notices The Mother on the stage, but with his plans to move to Chicago the next day, he turns down Barney's offer of "Have you met Ted?" and instead leaves for the train station after an emotional goodbye with his friends. But his plans change after he finally talks to her after some encouragement from the other woman waiting for the train, a conversation we don't see until close to the end of the finale. It's during this conversation that they not only recaps all of their "almost-meetings," but it's also when we finally learn The Mother's name: Tracy McConnell.

After he decides not to move to Chicago once he's met her and doesn't wait the three days before calling, we next see Ted planning their extravagant wedding (which includes a castle?) in 2015 – until Tracy interrupts to tell him they need a new wedding date because she won't fit into her dress in September. Yes, she's pregnant, and they're both so happy. In fact, in 2019, they're still not married. Before they do get married, however, Ted proposes again, and just like the first time, she keeps interrupting him saying yes. This time, however, he has a day in mind: Thursday. No big wedding, no months/years of planning.

Ted and Tracy get married, but as expected, The Mother dies. Ted's by her side reading to her in the hospital, but by the time he's telling their kids the story of how he met her, it's been six years since she died.

Ted and Robin's relationship As much as Ted may try to deny it, his kids aren't stupid and they point out that his whole "how I met your mother" story is really a "how I'm completely in love with Robin and your mother's not really actually in this story all that much and it's not short at all" story. But don't worry, they love Aunt Robin and they want him to ask her out, so Ted goes to her apartment with the blue French horn, and yes, that's how it ends, back at the beginning.

Verdict As stated above, the finale's disappointing. As Ted's kids pointed out, this entire series was not "How I Met Your Mother." It was all about Ted and Robin's long history, with Barney's elaborate proposal to win back Robin and the entire ninth season's wedding weekend really only resulting in three years of marriage, and Tracy ending up the character we felt bad for the most because while we may not have seen much of her, what we did see, we absolutely loved.

Once the signs became too obvious that it was more likely than not that The Mother died, and with Robin and Barney's ring fingers hidden in previous flashforwards, it became too likely that the series would then end with Ted and Robin back together or getting back together and Ted's kids playing a role in it. Since the very end has been known for a while – Ted's kids filmed it already – it had to be something that couldn't be changed, and what happened fit.

Despite all the times it seemed that "HIMYM" was closing the door on Ted and Robin for good, it never quite got closed all the way, with Robin even admitting at the Halloween party in the finale that she should've ended up with Ted. However, it seemed like he had moved on, and Ted and Tracy, while you could argue they were too similar to maybe really work, were adorable and Ted seemed to have finally moved on and found someone who really got him and fit in with the group of friends, essential with this gang. Instead, the final moments took him right back where he was in the beginning, only this time, Robin was right there with him.

Maybe it wouldn't have seemed like such a letdown if Barney and Robin had never gotten back together and gotten married. (Though then you could argue that Ted may not have met Tracy.) Maybe it would've been better if Barney and Robin's marriage had ended because he had trouble not slipping back to his old ways. But for now, all we can say is this: if only "How I Met Your Mother" had actually seemed more about how Ted met the kids' mother by the end of the finale.

What did you think of the "How I Met Your Mother" series finale, "Last Forever"?

Read more about How I Met Your Mother.

© Meredith Jacobs 2014

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