- A finale, or just a long episode? For the most part, the entire episode didn’t really have the feel of a finale, but rather just another episode of the show (and not a particularly good one at that). The flash-forward nature of the episode jumped around way too much, the characters were unhappy for most of the episode, and overall they tried to jam way too much into an hour. For a show that was based on the premise of taking an incredibly long time to tell a simple story, it didn’t make sense that they would cram 10 years worth of storylines into a 1-hour episode. The whole thing felt rushed and scattered.
- The Barney/Robin marriage. Despite having our doubts about the relationship at the beginning, the writers bombarded us with 2 seasons worth of this drama, including having the final season literally revolve completely around their wedding. With all the investment in their relationship, we were starting to think it would all work out for them. Then comes the series finale….and they are divorced within 15 minutes. So much for that 2-year storyline.
- The Barney love-child. This was one of the more ridiculous plotlines of the entire episode. This whole scenario seemed forced and contrived, like the writers were trying to force an emotional moment. Are we really supposed to be emotional over a baby we just found out about 5 minutes ago? More importantly, are we really supposed to believe that Barney, who just seconds before was begging the nurse to tell him that he wasn’t the father, was instantly changed into a kind, responsible parent who respects women? Give me a break.
- How I Met Your Mother? No, not really. I think early on we realized that the show wasn’t REALLY about how Ted met the mother. It was really a story about the 5 main characters loosely revolving around the story of Ted meeting the woman he would eventually marry. Still, the writers relied heavily on this theme at times, particularly with season-ending cliffhangers. Thus, it was still a very important theme of the show, and something that we all wanted to see resolved. (For me, personally, it was pretty much the only reason I kept watching over the last 2 seasons. Well, that and the fact that I don’t have much of a life.)
So, how did they resolve this in the finale? They spent about 2 minutes discussing the meeting, mostly going over a few vague plotlines that we already knew. The writers told more of the tale in earlier episodes than they did in the finale.
- Oh, yeah, the mother is dead. She died a while ago. Duh. Farewell mom, we hardly knew ye. One of the interesting things about HIMYM is that the writers developed a character that the audience connected to without ever seeing her on the screen. By the time they finally cast the mother’s character for the last season, the audience had already connected to her through a series of missed meetings and almost-encounters. Though she wasn’t cast until late in the show, the mother was actually a very important character, and one that the audience wanted to see more of. Instead, we got to see her with Ted for a few minutes before they reveal that she’s dead, and that she had been dead all along (or at least before Ted started telling his kids the story). And that brings us to:
- The final Ted/Robin relationship. My only explanation for this ending is that the writers and actors had more of a connection to the Ted/Robin relationship than we ever saw on screen. There was a time when everyone was rooting for Ted and Robin….4 or 5 seasons ago. After that, the writers did everything they could to squash this out of the show. They put both characters with other partners. They spent 2 seasons building up Barney and Robin as a couple. Heck, they even went so far as to explicitly say that Robin is not the mother, and that the premise of the show is about someone else that Ted marries. They even painted the two characters as completely incompatible: Robin was the world-traveling news anchor who couldn’t be tied down, and Ted was the suburban family man who longed for a wife and kids and a quiet life.It’s true that Ted has some crisis of conscience over Robin, but that was resolved before the finale. Ted’s feelings for her were symbolized by the locket, which we were led to believe he might use to break up the wedding. Instead, he freely gave the locket to Barney to give to Robin, symbolizing that he was letting go of that relationship. Later on, Ted even dismissed Robin’s passes at him and said that she should be marrying Barney. I understand the theme of “true love conquering all” in a TV show, but the writers explicitly slammed the door on the prospect of Ted/Robin by the end of the show.
That’s why the final episode was such a mistake: the writers effectively undid every major plotline of the show and changed everything in the final episode to suddenly revolve around Ted/Robin. As an audience, we had closed the door on that possibility a long time ago, which is why it was so strange that it got opened back up again. In a way, the finale might as well have indicated that everyone was dead the whole time, or that the entire show was a dream, because they certainly didn’t stick to the premise that made the show so popular during the finale. Overall, it was a huge letdown.
Runners up: Minor annoyances.
- Ted and the mother didn’t get married until at least 5 years after they got engaged. I realize they had a kid during that time, but that doesn’t mesh with their characters. Ted was a commitment guy who had finally met the woman of his dreams. He would have wanted to get married long, long before that time.
- On the Barney love-child note, when/why does he seem to have sole custody of the kid? He didn’t want a child to begin with, and suddenly he’s a sleep-deprived single parent? Most likely the kid would be living with the mother, and at most Barney would be visiting once in a while. And why is it that his character just seems to disappear after that?
- Speaking of disappearances, what the heck happens to Lilly in the future? I realize that she and Marshall are still together, but they devote almost no time to her. Presumably, she’s now a typical stay-at-home Mom. But what about her art career, the one that caused her to break up with Marshall, travel to Italy, etc? Did she just give it up? Who knows? Certainly not anyone who watched the finale.
HIMYM was getting tired these past few seasons, and the finale was a great reminder why it was time for the show to end. The constant trickery/misdirection/cliffhangers were a major annoyance, and while I was hopeful they would at least clear up the story by the end, the writers failed me again. They abandoned the premise of the show, didn’t resolve what they promised to resolve, and basically made a mess of the entire show. In my opinion, it was a very poor ending to a show that fell well short of its potential in the final seasons.