As the last thirty or so minutes of How I Met Your Mother‘s hour long series finale unfolded last night, I kept looking over wide-eyed and unbelieving at my wife. She too sat mouth agape in disbelief. Did they really go there?
Yes, in fact they did.
Every crazy theory seemed to come true. Barney and Robin got divorced. The Mother was dead (long dead at that). Ted and Robin got back together.
What the actual hell.
At first I was angry at what happened. This is not at all what I had signed up for when I started watching this show. It was a cop out and basically invalidated the whole premise.
However, the more I think about it the more I realize I’m not angry with what happened as much as the way it happened. These things weren’t earned. They felt like the characters being shoehorned into a story that the writers insisted on, but the characters no longer organically fit.
The writers knew where the story was going. They filmed the scene where the kids insist Ted pursue Aunt Robin years ago! (That must have been one hell of a non-disclosure agreement for those kids!) So why didn’t they organically build what was coming into the story? Sure, we had hints that the mother was going to die. And in retrospect carrying on the Ted and Robin thing to the point of being ridiculous makes a bit more sense now. (Plus the death of the Mother’s first love and her story about moving on now seems like a big red flag.) But why spend the entire final season on Barney and Robin’s wedding if you are just going to break them up twenty minutes into the finale? Why even get Barney and Robin back together if Ted and Robin were end game?
They could have easily truncated the wedding into the front 12 episodes and spent the back 12 fleshing out the fifteen years that was crammed into the hour finale. People change from who they were in their twenties. Friends who were inseparable grow apart when life happens and have to work to build a new different kind of friendship. People find the love of their lives and only get to spend ten years together before they lose them. These are all stories worth telling, but only if you take the time to actually develop them organically into the story.
I feel cheated by the writers, not because they didn’t give me what I wanted (though they didn’t), but because they didn’t take the time to make what they wanted actually make sense in the story they were telling. With a long ago filmed final scene and an announced final season they had the time and the resources, and that is what I find most disappointing.
I think if I had been in the writers room, I would have taken a look at that final scene then taken a look at what I had built up over nine seasons, and I would left that scene on the cutting room floor (perhaps for a crazy bonus alternate ending on the Full Series Blu-Ray release). I would have ended the series with the Mother and Ted meeting under the umbrella for the first time, because happy endings aren’t a bad thing and the truth is everything that happened to Ted over those nine seasons made him into a person ready to meet the love of his life, all of it no matter how arbitrary it seemed or slightly creepy it was that he was telling his children about all the chicks he banged. Becoming the person you need to become before meeting your soul mate – that’s the story that I thought they were telling. Evidently I was wrong.