It’s impossible to go into the finale of any show that you’ve devoted nine years to without some form of expectations. There are certain beats a finale is supposed to hit, but it also can’t fall into cliche territory. There are expectations about where the story should go, what should happen for the characters and how the final scene should run. In the case of How I Met Your Mother‘s finale, I’m not certain if it’s unsatisfying because it’s so far from where I had hoped the characters would end up, or if it really is a bad episode. Honestly, it’s probably a bit of both, but regardless, the result isn’t great.
In case it needs to be said, from here on out, this review is chocked full of spoilers. So if you haven’t seen the episode yet, don’t continue reading.
The way this episode is structured is interesting. The Farhampton train station scene is split up by scenes of Ted, the Mother, and the rest of the gang throughout the years. At first, I wasn’t sure that I was a fan of that format, but as the episode went along, I realized that it really did work. It was an excellent way to show what happened to everyone without sacrificing the emotional final meeting. An emotional final meeting, which could have been a truly great ending for a television show, if it had actually been the ending. Instead, the show runs one scene too long.
Ted and Robin getting back together at the end is probably supposed to feel cute and satisfying. As if the show went full circle, and the two who were meant to be together all along finally are. That’s how the Robin theorists are going to take the episode, and I’m sure they’re all quite happy with it. On the other hand, I’ve been far from on board with the Ted and Robin love affair for a long time, basically since the end of episode one when Ted said that Aunt Robin was Aunt Robin.
Robin was never the one for Ted. There were many times when he thought she was, but for every reason they might have worked together, there were two reasons why they were a terrible match. He met the girl of his dreams, he met the one, and she died. For him to go back to Robin after his true love died, only to continue dabbling in a doomed love affair, just feels wrong.
Some may say this changes the show. Instead of being about the Mother, it’s actually about Robin. While that may be what Bays and Thomas were going for with that ending, that shouldn’t be how it is. I’m not going to sit here and say an episode is good or bad based on what I would’ve done with the story. But the show is called How I Met Your Mother. It’s not, How I Met The Perfect Girl For Me Only To Have Her Die So I Could Get Back Together With Some Girl I Could’ve Been With The Entire Time. To make it the latter is cheap and a cop-out. It doesn’t do justice to any of the character development that happened over the last nine seasons, and it certainly doesn’t do justice to the story of Ted searching for love.
I don’t have any problem with the Mother dying. It’s a slightly weird decision that really was only in place to allow for the Robin ending, but it still could have been a beautiful love story with her death included. Like many aspects of the story, it was glossed over far too fast. There isn’t anything wrong with having her die though, at least not in theory. There’s also nothing wrong with Ted moving on six years after her death. There was no reason why he needed to keep from moving on forever. The problem is that he moves on to Robin, showing that everything before basically meant nothing.
Speaking of everything meaning nothing, there’s also the fact that Barney and Robin’s relationship, something that the show spent years tormenting us with, was dissolved in a couple minutes of discussion and one flashback. There was no need for their marriage to fall apart. Sure, it was doomed from the start, I wrote that constantly throughout last season, but to have it crumble less than 20 show-minutes after their vows only cheats the viewers.
I believe Barney being softened by his baby was supposed to show character growth, but when was Barney ever the one who was against kids? Yes, he didn’t want anyone to get pregnant because that meant he would have something tying him to that woman, but this is the guy who tried to adopt a baby with his bro. Perhaps if he had fallen in love with the woman who he made a baby with, that would be one thing. Instead, we never even get to see number 31..