TV: A fairly sad and bitter end to ‘How I Met Your Mother’

By Meryl Gottlieb|| @buzzlightmeryl
The series finale of How I Met Your Mother aired Monday, March 31 on CBS
Rating: 3/5

himym finaleI’m not sure any of what I type will be actual, concise thoughts. Currently, I’m sitting at my desk still shaking from the series finale of How I Met Your Mother, titled “Last Forever.” Let me tell you that I have never cried because of a film or TV show — except for Airbud when I was little but that doesn’t count because how could you not? — but I cried during this finale. It wasn’t some “Omg I’m so sad right now” tearful eyes; it was straight up, full-blown tears running down my face. There were happy moments, devastating ones, scenes that killed me and ones that enraged me. It was a good episode overall in a way, but I’m not entirely happy with the ending of How I Met Your Mother.

I’m happy they showed as much of the gang’s timelines as they did. Before the episode, I was nervous I wouldn’t get to see too far into their future and that I would only see the wedding party and then the moment Ted (Josh Radnor) finally met The Mother (Cristion Milioti). Thankfully, Carter Bays and Craig Thomas gave us much more. Some moments made me laugh but most of them made me sad. After nine seasons of mostly laughing, I would have bet a lot of money on this finale being much happier than it was. The only upbeat moments were throwbacks to old gags, Marshall’s (Jason Segel) white-hot puns, and some of the happy moments we already knew about. The majority of this episode was stuck in the doldrums. Previous flashbacks in “Rally” proved to show us much more joyous moments of the gang’s future than this episode did.

Let’s look at this in timeline form:

Present: Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) tries to have one last “Haaaaaaaavvve you met Ted?” to pair him with The Mother, but Ted insists he has to leave for Chicago. The gang says goodbye with one last “Major” joke, an E.T.-esque goodbye and a high infinity. It’s not hard to see that Lily’s tears are really just Alyson Hannigan not being able to keep it together as they all shot their last scenes.

2015: Ted proposed at the top of the lighthouse in “The Lighthouse,” and now he and the Mother are planning their wedding. Except, the Mother says it will have to wait because she’s pregnant and at least wants to fit into her dress when they get married.

May 2016: At Ted’s home in the suburbs, Marshall discusses how much he hates being a corporate lawyer. Oh, and Barney and Robin (Cobie Smulders) get divorced in Argentina — shortly after the scene we saw in “Rally” when the two woke up with a baby. Both say they wanted it, but Lily makes them all promise to at least be together for “the big moments.”

While I wanted Barney and Robin to get married, I honestly never saw them lasting. Harris and Smulders can have as much chemistry as they want, but I just never believed these two were actually in love. Previous rants may seem as if I’m going back on my old beliefs, but thinking logically now, I can’t imagine the couple lasting like Marshall and Lily. I wanted them together because I thought that was how everyone would get their happy ending, and that’s what I wanted most of all.

lilyIn October 2016: After seeing the cockamouse — a GREAT throwback — Marshall and Lily decide they need to move to a bigger home. They throw one last Halloween party to honor the famed and adored apartment. Ted still dons the hanging chad costume, and Robin is more miserable than ever. The “gang” isn’t what it used to be, she says, and it will never be that way again. They can still be friends but “that part is over.” She leaves Lily, who is in a Moby Dick-inspired white whale morph suit costume, alone in the empty apartment.

Alyson Hannigan was the heart of the show. I’ve been up and down with Lily for a while, but tonight I can see how monumental she is. As I said, I know that was really just Hannigan crying during her scenes, but it made the moments feel that more real and especially that much more painful. Her early goodbye to Ted and the one to Robin in the empty apartment killed me. This was one of her best episodes.

I don’t agree with how Robin was phased out of the gang, whether it was because of her voluntary departure or the unconscious doings of the gang. For nine years, I believed she was included and disagree with how easily it separated. Sure in real life, people grow apart and lose touch, but after watching them for nine years, I don’t accept that for this gang.

2018: Barney argues with Ted and Lily about how late the gang — minus Robin — will stay out tonight. He ultimately gets his way because a “big moment” happens: Marshall is going to be a judge! Barney continues to chase after younger girls, much to Lily’s dismay. Here’s where NPH breaks my heart. He says if there had ever been a chance where he would settle down, it was with Robin, and if not with her, then with no one. “That’s me,” he says. “Can I please just be me?” One of Judge Fudge’s first rulings is to allow it.

If there was ever a Barney monologue that broke my heart, that was it.

Jason Segel was really underplayed in this episode. He popped in a few times to make some jokes and be the lovable Big Fudge, but he didn’t play that big of a part. I understand Marshall was comic relief just as Chandler was in Friends, but at least in Friends, Chandler had a big role in the finale. His story was just as monumental as Ross and Rachel’s. I get this story is about Ted, but Marshall is a huge part of his life and deserved more.

2019: Even though they are all at Robots vs. Wrestlers, Barney is not happy because his perfect month ended with getting girl No. 31 pregnant. With the way he was going, did anyone not see this happening in his future?

2020: Ted is giving architecture fun facts to a young Penny!! My heart melted from the cuteness. On the streets, the Mosbys see Robin, one of the few sightings the gang has had of her apparently since they essentially went separate ways. It’s time for the birth of Barney’s mistake. He is so uncaring up until the nurse puts that baby girl, named Ellie, into his arms. Then, NPH himself takes over. Tears instantly come pouring down my face as Barney tearfully proclaims how this girl is the love of his life and how “everything I have and everything I am is yours forever.”

barney cry 1

barney cry 2





I’m quite annoyed with how quite misogynistic it feels that the writers don’t even feel the need to introduce us to the mother of Barney’s child, especially because this is the event that affects his whole life. I don’t need the story of “how Barney met No. 31,” but I think we deserved more.

Pushing that aside, Barney’s proclamation to his daughter slayed me. I perished. This was one of those moments when full tears were blinding my vision of the TV. As I said with Hannigan, I can see it was the father in NPH that made that scene so raw, real and emotional. This was the best thing I could have asked for Barney.

Still in 2020, Ted decides to re-propose to the Mother because it’s been five years since the first time he did. This time, however, they’re getting married… on Thursday. And that’s what happens! They are all at MacLaren’s, because of course, when Robin shows up as well — only because The Mother persuaded her. They all take a photo just like the famed one in the opening credits. Marshall also says he’s going to run for the state supreme court and must now be called Fudge Supreme. Ted and the Mother get married and are solidified as the kind of couple I so desperately hope is in my future.

Then, we get the voiceover that brought an endless flood of tears. It’s Josh Radnor, not Bob Saget, talking to Luke and Penny about how the lesson he learned was to love their mother through literally everything. Then they have a slideshow of the couple, but I couldn’t even see it because I was crying too hard. That’s not a joke. I honestly missed that so if you know what those photos are, tell me so I can cry again. Why was I crying so hard? Because through my ugly sobbing, I heard Radnor narrate how he kept that lesson to love with him when the Mother got sick.

meetingIn what I think was an attempt to try to cut away from all the sadness, we go back to the present at the Farhampton train station and finally see fate. Ted walks over to the Mother and the two just casually bring up how intertwined their lives have been. He mentions the yellow umbrella and says she stole in from when he left it in Cindy’s apartment. He points to his initials “T.M.” on it. The Mother, however, says those are her initials, for Tracy McConnell. There’s an adorable flirty conversation about phrases whose initials are also “T.M.” — “terribly mistaken” and this umbrella belongs “to me” — as it fades out.

In 2030 (where the show began with the first shot of Luke and Penny on the couch): “And that, kids is how I met your mother.”

endingFolks, this is where the finale just should have ended. But, Penny proclaims how this story was really just about how he loves Aunt Robin because their mom is hardly in it. She states he is just telling them this to see if they are OK with him asking her out. Both she and Luke yell they are completely fine with it because it’s been six years since their mom passed away. “It’s time.” Ted runs over to Robin’s apartment, and just like in the pilot, he holds up the blue French horn he stole for her, showing that they are going to end up together.

Cue the cast credits showing them all in their first scenes in the pilot.

In actuality: NO, IT’S NOT TIME. I am over Ted and Robin. For a period of time, I may have wished for that ending. I always thought their relationship at least felt more genuine than hers and Barney’s, but that’s not what I want anymore. We’ve tried this ship several times, but it’s sunken too often for me to have stuck with it. For nine seasons, I was assured she was just “Aunt Robin,” never thinking about what would happen after he tells his kids this story and how she’s “Aunt Robin” at that moment while they’re in the living room, but she doesn’t have to be Aunt Robin forever. There was too much back and forth, up and down for me to truly want this end result.

To make matters worse, the ninth season was mostly about everyone falling in love with The Mother. Milioti’s perfect performance and the little quips here and there could only do just that. I know she is perfect for Ted. That is what I want. Every time he looked at her in all of the flash-forwards was the way any woman wants to be looked at by their love. They are my OTP — “one true pair” for you non-Tumblr users. They are endgame. That is the happy ending I have wanted since the moment Milioti first appeared on my screen.

In a way, having Ted end up with Robin makes me feel they simply negated the entire series. Here’s the story about how Ted is waiting for the love of his life; he gets it and loses it, and then does a rebound of all rebounds and ends up with the girl who for a long time said she didn’t love him. I just don’t see how that is the ending anyone would want. Sure, HIMYM is thousands of times more realistic than Friends, but this is fiction. You are allowed to make it a happy ending even if that doesn’t happen in real life.

Reference the way Ted always looks at the Mother, how ecstatic Marshall and Lily were Ted chose to stay in New York because of the bass player — fulfilling Lily’s front porch dream well — and the fact that even the random older woman at the train station shipped those two so hard. Technically, they did end up together, but it wasn’t the ending Ted, or the fans, deserved.

Milioti was sparingly used throughout this finale and was the reason for the few joyous moments. She did everything I could have ever asked for on her part. This entire last season was meant to build up to us seeing their relationship and though we did get to see many highlights throughout the years, I felt cheated in seeing their happiness. Because of that, I can understand Penny’s argument. The story began when Ted first saw Robin and a major part of the show focused on their on and off relationship while clues of the Mother were dropped sporadically and then, in comparison to all 208 episodes, she was only given a few minutes of the spotlight. On paper, yes he should be with Robin but not according to anyone’s hearts, especially not after seeing Milioti and Radnor together this season.

Last week, I would have bet my life that I would have walked away from this show as happy as one could be. I never imagined my love for this show would be tainted by harsh feelings for the finale, just like with Chuck. I’m disappointed and still can’t think straight to continue ranting about why this was not the way the show should have ended.

I’m sure I will be ranting more as friends want to discuss the finale in the coming days, but for now I’ll digress. Write to me @buzzlightmeryl or if you’d like to discuss this more because I sure can.


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