*This article uses heavy spoilers and if you have not seen the finale of How I Met Your Mother, you’re advised to read with caution*
WHEN How I Met Your Mother’s season finale was initially aired in America 3 months ago, the internet howled with outrage.
Many fans felt the finale’s handling of the show’s core cast was not only a betrayal to the characters but also of the show’s initial premise.
I personally watched the whole episode (which aired as two back-to-back in the States, rather than on separate weeks as it did over here) live via a dodgy feed of CBS at 1am UK time, and the simulcast outrage Twitter erupted into was extraordinarily venomous. The outrage still remains, with every post on the How I Met Your Mother official Facebook wall met with thousands of responses still critical of the plot, while Entertainment Weekly has voted it one of the worst finales to any American TV show.
It is very easy to see why they felt this. The story is interpreted by the kids not as the rocky road that took Theodore Evelyn Mosby through a series of poorly chosen relationships, drunken all-nighters, bizarre tangents, pineapples, slap bets, strippers, architecture jobs, friend’s babies and more to becoming a father with family.
(Incidentally, how good were Penny and Luke Mosby’s attention spans for sitting through nine years of their old man’s ramblings? Kudos, too, to whoever gave 2030 Ted the line “I kept this story short and to the point” – a candidate for one of the show’s funniest ever lines)
Instead, the kids’ interpretation was that Ted was still in love with Robin Scherbatsky – the gun-loving Canadian journalist who had been his desired girl way back in the mid/late-2000’s, who had dumped him twice and married (unsuccessfully) to his playboy friend Barney Stinson.
It was hinted a number of times that the marriage might not last very long during the wedding weekend, but because it was set over their wedding weekend, a lot of season nine of the show now has no reason for its existence. There are a few major plot threads going on, but a lot of it can be removed and the central narrative would not suffer.
My main criticism of the How I Met Your Mother season nine structure, and with it its finale, is not – compared with the vitriolic mainstream opinion – the content of the finale. The central beats are harsh, but workable.
The main issue, however, is that we’re not given long enough to feel like the creators have earned their way to stick the landing perfectly to the vision they had when they filmed a scene with the kids (Lyndsy Fonesca and David Hendrie) back in 2006. This was the scene at the end where the kids told their father Ted, “Go for Robin! Its been a long hard six years since Mom died but its time to go for it!”
The problem is that it doesn’t feel like that they earned their way back there. Show creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas tried to cram so much into the final hour of How I Met Your Mother that not enough flesh is given to their visions.
More could have been given to Marshall Eriksen’s step from miserable corporate lawyer to a member of the New York State Supreme Court. It was extremely disappointing Lily was overlooked for more or less the entire finale. Robin’s complete dropping out of the gang was pretty depressing. Barney’s regression was understandable, but not enough was done into either that, or his baby. There was far too little time devoted to the story of the titular mother Tracy McConnell, who was a very welcome addition in the precious little screen time she had, and whose illness was overlooked in the most pathetically blase fashion possible.
It is safe to say the How I Met Your Mother fanbase was alienated not just by the killing of the mother, although this had been dreaded for a few weeks, but also by the ridiculously rushed way her death was covered. It is reported scenes were deleted of her hospital treatment and funeral, and they may have at least given us closure of the fact she was not alive when Ted Mosby begun telling the story.
There were plenty of interesting ideas going on in the minds of the finale but not enough was done. It should have been the case that Season Nine of How I Met Your Mother was not properly orchestrated, and instead would’ve worked better as a split season, with the first half devoted to the wedding of Barney and Robin, and the second detailing the rest of the beloved character’s lives. Indeed, the writers had written and filmed another episode’s worth of material that was eventually cut from the finale, and you could get a whole lot more – perhaps even another series’ worth – out of everything in this final episode.
As for new comers, it is still worth watching the show. Sure, the finale wasn’t the perfect end, but there are plenty of laughs, good times and poignant moments in this show – especially in the first seven seasons.
While the finale was better than the vitriol it is now associated with, it is still compromised by the season’s structural failings and dispensing with so many good ideas. So at the end of it, How I Met Your Mother ended its legen-wait for it-dary run with an episode that had good ideas and some good jokes, but failed to live up to the anticipation.