I know it's just a television show and thus this might sound corny or dumb, but the finale of a favorite television show is like having a close friend move away. You may never see them again and all you'll have are the memories. Except in the case of television it's like a close friend moves away once (sometimes twice) a year. I wasn’t fully ready for Ted, Robin, Barney, Marshall and Lily to move away tonight.
Unfortunately, and I hate feeling this way, but I feel the “How I Met Your Mother” series finale was a little too underwhelming.
The finale begins just after Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) and Robin’s (Cobie Smulders) wedding and before the opening theme even rolls Ted (Josh Radnor) has been entranced by his first view of “The Mother” (Cristin Milioti), who he sees playing bass in the wedding band. Despite this, he tries to leave the party right away to catch the train for Chicago, where he’s immediately moving too. This leads to the meeting between the two at the train stop that we’ll see at the end of the episode. But, we know right away that Ted didn’t end up moving to Chicago, because we get a flashforward of him in MacLaren’s claiming that he didn’t go because he met a girl.
This is just the first of an episodes told entirely in flashforwards, which sometimes proves to be a bit overwhelming, but wasn’t surprising by any means. The flashforwards give us insight into the future of the MacLaren’s gang and it’s not all sunshine and roses, which should be expected, but doesn’t always seem pleasing.
One of the small disappointments from the finale is that it doesn’t have a whole lot to do with Marshall (Jason Segel) and Lily (Allyson Hannigan) except for the reveals that the loving couple is going to have a third child and Marshall eventually gets his judge position and ultimately will run for New York Supreme Court. It doesn’t really come as a shock that the happy couple doesn’t get a whole lot to do in the finale, because this is essentially Ted’s story of how he met the mother.
There were three really big reveals during the finale. One that I, and many fans alike, saw coming. One that I didn’t necessarily think would happen, but wasn’t the least bit surprised about. And, one that probably shouldn’t have taken me by surprise, but did, and left me with my biggest issue from the finale.
Believe it or not, it’s the two big reveals at the end of the episode that don’t really bother me, but the one that came at the finale’s midpoint.
The first big reveal of the finale comes before the first half hour is up and it’s that Barney and Robin end up getting a divorce after just three years of marriage. It’s surprising, but unsurprising all at the same time. It’s unsurprising, because it’s Barney and Robin and we’ve seen this before. It’s hard to see Barney as the settled down type, but believe it or not their struggling marriage has more to do with Robin’s inability to place her marriage before her thriving career as anchor of World Wide News. Maybe it’s because Robin never gets over the fact that Ted is actually the right guy for her, after it’s revealed to her that he found her precious locket in the penultimate episode.
It’s disappointing, however, because the entire final season of “How I Met Your Mother” is during the weekend of Barney and Robin’s wedding and it all seems at least somewhat pointless after the fact, and it was actually the show’s best season in a few years. It’s also disappointing, because it seemed like the two, even though I didn’t always feel like they belonged together, would end up living happily ever after just an episode prior.
The most disappointing outcome of the divorce though is how distant it, and her job, made Robin to the rest of the group for many years afterward. It’s understandable giving the group includes her ex-husband and the potential love of her life, but still somewhat unbelievable in that I don’t fully believe it’s a part of who her character is.
Barney’s storyline would be repaired a little, in my opinion, by the end of the finale as he finally finds the girl that he can love for his entire life … his daughter, who he has after a one-night stand gone wrong (which is amazing it took him this long to knock somebody up). The speech that he gives his daughter, which he previously gave in a mocking explanation of something he’d never do, was the only real tear-inducing scene of the finale, which should’ve honestly provided a few more teary-eyed scenes.
The meeting between Ted and “The Mother,” who we find out is named Tracy, was as cute as fans always dreamed it would be, especially after the series introduced Milioti as “The Mother” and we got to see her interactions with Ted in flashforwards throughout the season.
Then comes the final scene in which we realize and not very surprisingly if you’ve been following along closely and listening to finale predictions, that “The Mother” has, in fact, been dead for six years. I think that I’m OK with this fact, even though it does come off as slightly callous giving the chemistry between Radnor and Milioti and the fact that Ted obviously loved this woman with every fiber of his being. But, it leads us into the very last reveal …
Ted’s daughter, Penny (Lyndsy Fonseca), mentions to Ted that the entire story didn’t have so much to do with meeting their mother, but his feelings for “Aunt Robin.” His kids then persuade him into giving it a shot with Robin, which he does at the very end, beautifully, I might add, with the blue French horn from the show’s pilot.
I can buy the entire story being about Ted’s love for Robin, because it’s something he comes back to time and again during the series, but I would prefer to believe that his telling of how he met his children’s mother has more to do with friendship than it does his love for Robin. That’s what I gathered about the entire series, more so than anything else.
For almost the entire series I wanted to see Ted and Robin end up together and at many points truly believed they would despite the declaration of “Aunt Robin” at the very end of the first episode and many people telling me that it was already a proven it would never happen. Their relationship was among the best I’d ever seen on television and you could tell the two really cared and even belonged together. I still feel that way, but the way it eventually played out made it maybe a little bit too awkward (with divorce, death, etc.). But, maybe that just makes it more believable/realistic? I guess the way the show’s creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas laid the series out this was really the only way for us to meet the mother and have Ted end up with Robin. It’s a finish that makes sense, and could likely grow on me in the future, but was ultimately a little too awkward to really be completely cheered.