(Updated: April 1st, 2014 3:00PM CST)
How I Met Your Mother (hereby referred to as HIMYM) aired its final episode on the last day of March, 2014. I started watching this show in the middle of the 7th season. I quickly marathoned through Netflix, watching the first 6 seasons in literally 34 days before catching up with the seventh. I never looked back. In fact, I’ve watched the series straight through twice (save some of the 9th season since it’s not out on disc yet). Additionally, I watched the series backwards, in that I watched season 8, then season 7, followed by 6 and so on, ending with season 1. If you’re familiar with the show and the stories, I suggest watching it this way. It provides a unique experience and helps find all the little hidden Easter eggs throughout the series.
HIMYM follows five friends through almost a decade of their lives, flashing back and forth through time to show us how some of it began and how some of it would end.
In this editorialreview, I’ll be going over my thoughts on the series finale, “Last Forever”, and how it fits in with the series as a whole. If you haven’t seen the finale or the series, I warn you, I’ll be spoiling quite a bit in this article after the image below. Otherwise, if you’d like to know what happens and read my take on the matter, continue on. Challenge accepted?
HIMYM‘s finale “Last Forever”, is a one-hour finale that begins during the reception of Barney and Robin’s wedding. Ted is sitting at a table with Marshall and Lily, explaining how he has to leave for Chicago. Now, we know something has to change because we already saw Ted on a date with “The Mother” three days after the wedding… in New York. The episode starts off exactly as I anticipated. Ted sees “The Mother” from across the reception room and she plays her bass. We know, as viewers, that Ted sees something in her but unexpectedly, he doesn’t go after her even though Barney tries “Have you met Ted?” We get the emotional goodbye you’d expect from Ted leaving “the gang”. Then Ted is talking with a woman at the Farhampton train station, where we expect Ted and “The Mother” to meet. We immediately jump 24 hours into the future where Ted is back at MacLaren’s pub. Marshell and Lily walk in and are immediately angered. This, of course, makes perfect sense. They just said goodbye to their best friend a day ago and here he is, like nothing happened.
The episode becomes the HIMYM norm by showing Ted get flustered trying to ask “The Mother” out and so forth but this time, Lily thinks it’s different. At this stage, I’m very happy with the episode, though I’m not too surprised by it. I mean, the show is called How I Met Your Mother, so clearly, at some point, they have to meet. Now, I know many out there speculated that somehow Robin would turn out to be the mom or maybe it would be someone totally different, out of left field. I, however, was in a different boat. I was certain the woman with the yellow umbrella would be “The Mother”. Now, I didn’t get it all right… so let’s move on.
The episode starts to fall apart and the social media world exploded. The Twitterverse was livid. People were “done” with the series (which is ironic since… the series is done). I was patient. I spent enough time watching this series to have faith in the writers, directors and actors. I was going to give them their full hour.
Things got bad when Robin and Barney announced their divorce. Shouts of “what was the point of this whole season?” came from across the country. Many had already been unhappy with the HIMYM season 9 premise being the weekend of the wedding. I, for one, actually enjoyed that and thought it was a unique and clever way to try something different. To be fair, the series was originally only planned for eight seasons, so they did have to come up with new plot points and stretch things out a bit.
So now, Robin is off around the globe, Barney is back hunting women and Marshall is completely unhappy with his new corporate lawyer position. Everyone seems miserable. We get a bright spot with “The Mother” announcing she is pregnant… though no marriage has occurred yet. This becomes a theme for the episode and in a fashion against what we would expect from Ted Evelyn Mosby, they go seven years before tying the knot, after a five year engagement. It’s a small ceremony with little planning. This was not something I anticipated. Instead, I expected the wedding discussed in the episode… the one including a castle, horses, and a hot air balloon.
Then things start to get better. Marshall becomes a judge. Barney gets a new thread as well. In a throwback to his “perfect week” (sleeping with seven different women in seven days), he tries for and succeeds in completing the perfect month (31 women in 31 days) but does he get the asterisks? It turns out that the final woman he sleeps with (who we never see or get a name of) gets pregnant. That’s right, Barney becomes a daddy. In fact, this event changes him in a way nothing has before. Finally, “daddy’s home”, as he said.
In the end, we learn that Robin thinks Ted might be the one that got away and “The Mother”, whose name is Tracy McConnell, gets sick. I was disappointed in how this aspect of the show was handled. Barely any time was spent on Tracy’s illness or her sad death. We don’t even know what the illness was. Was it cancer? Was it genetic? We don’t know. Don’t get me wrong, it was sad but I expected to be on the verge of tears and frankly, that was one aspect that didn’t pull at my heartstrings. I understand why, though. In order for the end of the episode to be “ok”, they had to play off Tracy’s death as something that happened a while ago and people are beginning to finally move past it.
What was emotional was their first meeting. You see, it’s not until after her death that Ted flashes back to that train station, in the rain and walks over to the woman with the yellow umbrella. Their chemistry is wonderful. Tracy jokes about seeing his Economics class. Ted declares that this was his umbrella and that’s how we learn the name of “The Mother”. They both have the same initials. They realize how close they’d come to each other, St. Patrick’s Day at the bar, the roommate… so close for so long, yet so far. This was what I was looking for. It was sad but romantic. It was pure Ted Evelyn Mosby.
But before we know it, it’s gone. She’s gone. The Mother… is gone. Bob Saget’s voice is replaced by Josh Radnor… that’s when we know 2030 has become the present. There we see old Ted, sitting across from his kids… the same two we’ve seen for nine years on that same couch. The stories end and they are not impressed. That’s it? They suggest. The daughter isn’t having it. After all that time, all those stories, feelings, events… this story isn’t about how Ted met their mother… no, it’s about how Ted is still in love with Robin, how he’s always been in love with her since the first episode, how he never stopped loving her even when they drifted apart. Six years after the death of Tracy, Ted is alone, in love with Robin.
It’s not the craziest twist in the bucket but it fits. Of course that’s the story. People had been joking about it for a couple of years. Ted and Robin were meant for each other. The kids are okay with it. They love their Aunt Robin and want to see their dad happy after he’s been alone for six years. They push him, give him permission… to call her. But a phone call just won’t do. This is Ted Mosby we’re talking about.
HIMYM could not end without one… final… blue french horn.
Some are upset by this ending. Some want to know why we bothered with Barney and Robin’s wedding, especially for an entire season. Why did we waste so much time? But you see… it wasn’t a waste of time at all. In 2014, Ted and Robin wouldn’t have worked, just as Barney and Robin wouldn’t work by 2017. From the very beginning, Ted wanted kids, a family. Meanwhile, Robin wanted to travel for her job, see the world, deliver the news. Barney wanted children too. It was only when they got what they truly wanted out of life, could they be happy as themselves. Barney got his kid, the daughter from “Number 31″ and never had to chase women again. He got the one he was looking for. Ted got his children and family from Tracy. Robin got her fill of travel and fame from her career. But now, it was 2030. They were done with those things. Ted and Robin could finally be for each other what they needed.
It’s never easy to end a show. Many were disappointed with the finale of Seinfeld and Friends. How do you take nine years of work… five distinct individual lives, and narrow them down to a 43 minute ending? HIMYM brought us so much over nine seasons, everything from the Duckie Tie to Legen… wait for it…. to the Playbook, “suit up”, “have you met Ted?”, “big fudge”, “Slapsgiving”, challenge accepted, sandwiches, the perfect week, the two minute date, the yellow umbrella, the locket… the friendships, relationships, the pineapple…. dary!
And never forget, the blue french horn.
If I have a favorite moment or scene from HIMYM, it’s the end of season 8’s “Something New”. It’s “Simple Song” by The Shins as our characters all prepare to head to Barney and Robin’s wedding and the first time we see “The Mother”. It’s a beautiful song with a beautiful story of each character’s journey to the event we’ve been waiting for. Ted and Lily just discussed Ted’s moving to Chicago, Marshall accepts his position as judge but hasn’t told Lily, meanwhile Lily thinks they are moving to Italy. Barney and Robin are in the limo, heading toward their life together. And there’s “The Mother”, yellow umbrella and all… at the Farhampton train station. It sums up everything so well and in my opinion, it’s the best single scene of the series.