There you have it folks, the end of How I Met Your Mother has polarized the comments section of every website on the Internet, and broken many hearts in the process. The much awaited season finale to one of the most beloved and emotionally investing television shows on the planet turned out to be a massive con from the very beginning, just like Lost and that other show I’m still mad about (I hate you Dexter, for what you did to my emotions and expectations). Fans of HIMYM deserved more than what they got, and possibly the entire narrative arc has been ruined forever.
Before we get into exactly why, let’s look at the events of the final episode. In the last installment, Ted is about to move to Chicago when he sees Tracy McConnell (the name of the Mother revealed! But not in an interesting way!) at the Farhampton train station. Then we flash forward to a series of vignettes about the character’s lives in the coming years. Apparently, Barney and Robin can only handle three years of marriage because Barney (shocker) still doesn’t know how to love, and Robin is working too damn hard. So, they divorce, making Lily really sad, but oh wait, Marshall is also sad as a corporate lawyer (again?). Then, the Mother has kids with Ted (heh, they’re living in sin), and it’s kinda happy for a while.
Post-divorce, Robin turns into a news celebrity and barely has any time to hang with the gang, and Barney reverts back to an even worse version of his former-playboy self. Until, as revealed at a Robots vs. Wrestlers match, he reveals that he’s impregnated a lady (who we never meet, which is crap-tastic on the writers, honestly). Then he falls in love with the baby (yay! Barney had real feelings all along that were resolved by having a daughter of course!) and Marshall finally becomes a judge in Queens. At the final party at Marshall and Lily’s apartment, Robin breaks up with the gang (at least Lily is wearing a white whale costume), admitting she should have ended up with Ted (really?).
But oh my stars, you guys, the Mother then dies and Ted finishes his story to his children? After the story ends with Ted meeting the Mother awkwardly at that train station?
Actually, this would have been perfectly fine, as it would have meant that even through all the wacky nonsense, it was a simple act of fate that brought Ted and Tracy together. That’d be fine. But no, Carter Bays and Craig Thomas had to prove they could pull a nine-season con on audiences and reveal that, in fact, the whole story was really about Robin after all. At the end of the story, Ted’s kids (this segment was filmed many years ago, apparently) urge him to ask “Aunt Robin” out because her excruciating amount of focus in the story meant that she was really the love of his life also. Sorry Cristin Milioti, we never cared about you or how awesome you are, you were always a distraction from how much Ted is a sad sack who will never let go of the past. Sorry your honestly well written and well-performed character had to die for that.
I guess the final shot, of Ted holding up a newly stolen blue french horn while Robin gazes down at him from her apartment (she could afford better, now, right?), was thematically pretty cool, and a decent final image to end the show on, but we could have gotten the same pleasure if we’d never invested any thought into Robin and Barney, or into Robin’s adamant view that she and Ted should remain friends. Really, the entire plot, with this ending in mind, would have been far better if there had never been so much damn investment in other stuff happening to push Ted toward Tracy and Robin and Barney together. Remember when Deb had to die so Dexter could ultimately decide to leave Miami or some garbage like that? This is exactly like that!
At the end of the day, I guess most of the episode was watchable and funny, almost to the standard of some of the middle seasons maybe, but this is a sitcom people care about, and the creators treated their characters and their arcs poorly just because they had the idea to have Robin and Ted end up together from the beginning. Audiences did not get the finale they deserved, instead being duped into caring about a mystery character that not only is Ted’s dream girl, but also inspired so much speculation. Like in Lost, it turns out all the narrative meant nothing more than diddly, and we’ve been at the mercy of Bays and Thomas’ crafty enigma for a depressingly weak payoff. They completely ignored that their characters evolved in all kinds of emotional ways, just so they could push their big twist.
By all means, though, try and harvest some enjoyment out of the early seasons, as they are worth the sofa time. But it may be prudent to just pretend the last few seasons didn’t happen at all (you know, like with most television that isn’t Breaking Bad), as the twist here makes us care about the whole story so very little. What a waste of a perfectly good Cristin Milioti. TV monsters, stop doing this to us, please!