Wednesday, April 2, 2014

How I Met Your Mother Finale: My Super-Spoilery Review

Okay, as the title says, this review is going to be filled with spoilers.  Be warned, if you don't want to know how the series ends, do not read any further.

In a nutshell, Ted meets his future wife, Tracy, right after Barney and Robin's wedding.  They fall in love and have 2 kids.  However Barney and Robin are constantly fighting because of Robin's job and her perpetual travelling, so they decide to get divorced.  Barney returns to being a lothario and Robin becomes more and more distant from the group.  After having sex with 31 women in in 31 days, Barney gets the last one (who is never named) pregnant and has a daughter.  This changes him completely and gives up his old ways.  Robin returns one more time for Ted and Tracy's wedding.  Tracy gets sick and dies.  Ted decides to go after Robin again now that 6 years have passed, and his children encourage him.  He shows up at her door as he did in the pilot, with a blue French horn.

First of all, I should say that I get it.

I get what the producers were trying to do.  From the beginning, the story has been about Robin.  That's why Ted begins the series by telling his kids about when he met Robin, not Marshall, Lilly, or Barney.  It makes sense that this would be his way of trying to get them to understand why he would be going after Robin now that he is a widower. 

And there are some nice moments in the finale.

-The Ghostbusters quoting
-The actual moment Ted and Tracy meet.
-Barney falling hopelessly for his baby daughter
-Any scene with Tracy.

Again, I understand that the overall point was to get Ted together with Robin.  But the minds behind the show wrote themselves into a very tricky emotional corner.  In order to get to that end, they have to trample a lot of what came before.

Here are a few points of contention:

1.  It trashes Barney/Robin.
This entire last season takes place at Barney and Robin's wedding.  We like Barney and we like Robin and we see that they love each other, so we root for them.  Barney's proposal the season before was quite legend-(wait for it)- dary.  The penultimate episode has Robin with cold feet coming to the understanding that Barney is changing for the better for her and that she loves him and so they exchange vows.

But that relationship is totally broomed within 30 minutes of the wedding.  It feels cheap, as if we invested a lot of our emotional capitol in an investment that imploded soon after finally reaching its potential.

2.  It minimizes Ted/Tracy
One of the best things about this season was the introduction of Tracy.  Not only is she completely and utterly compatible with Ted, but she is much more likeable than Robin.  She is selfless, quircky, and accepting.  Robin is selfish, judgmental, and hard-edged. 

In the scenes that Ted and Tracy share, we can see an easy chemistry.  We've been waiting the entire series for this romance.  We have NOT been waiting for Ted and Robin.  Yes, the two have an attraction and a spark.  But from the first episode they've told us that these two are not going to end up together, so we let it go.  We, the audience, have been yearning to see Ted finally find his happiness with his soul mate.  And that happiness is all too brief. 

We really don't see Ted dealing with Tracy's death.  We see her resting in a hospital bed and then we cut ahead 6 years later.  It feels like Ted was just waiting Tracy out until he could go after Robin.  I know that isn't what happened or what the writers intended, but because they don't flesh out that time in Ted's life, it feels like all the wait has been for very little payoff.

3.  The Ted/Robin relationship is doomed.
Ted and Robin have been together several times already.  And every time it has failed.  Miserably.

This time will be no different.

The problem has never been with Ted.  Ted would make the full and complete life commitment to Robin.  We've already seen that he will be there for the one he loves in sickness and in health. 

But Robin is selfish.  Everything is about her and her career.  When things got tough with Barney, she bailed.  If things ever got difficult with Ted, she would leave him. 

Because Robin is unchanged, the same result will occur: tragedy.

This could have been easily fixed.  We could have spent more time with Ted post-Tracy.  We could have seen Robin there to comfort him.  We could have seen Robin sacrificing for him.  Imagine she had a chance to interview the President and instead she gives that up in order to be there for Ted during one of his sad moments.  If we saw that, we would have seen a woman who has learned that love and family are more important than ambition.

But we never saw that.  Even the last shot tells us this.  Romantic though it is, Robin is still aloof and out of reach. 

There were a few other things that bothered me, like Ted and Tracy not getting married until the end of the episode, but I do not want to nit-pick. 

I think that these three issues loom large and they blunt the emotional impact of what could have been more awesome than licking the liberty bell!


  1. Yep...agreed with all these points. I wonder if it would have been a better ending three seasons ago. I won't lie...I was rooting for Ted and Robin back then, but they kept hammering the point that it wasn't meant to happen, and they showed me all the reasons why not. I understood the reasons, accepted them and moved on.

    On the other hand, I love Tracy. They showed me why they are such a good fit. Ted had so may quirks, and in the short time that we knew Tracy, she apparently did as well. But whenever they were together, they just completed each other. I wanted to see more of this.

    Maybe the part that was so jarring was that to the audience, it was like 30 seconds between finding out that Tracy had passed away and Ted went back to Robin. I think you hit the nail on the head, when you say that it felt like Ted was waiting Tracy out.

    I understood why they did it...they wanted to go full circle and explain why this whole story was being told and why Robin was such as focus...but you know what? In retrospect, I wouldn't have questioned it if they never explained it. Maybe I'm a sap, but I would have honestly preferred an ending where Ted finally finds the pure happiness that he's been searching for for 9 seasons...and it was never in the place where he was looking for all those years, but as often as it happens in life, it's in the place where you least expect.

    Unanswered prayers.

    Saw a fan-made alternate perfectly for me:

  2. Looks like they moved the video...also changed the last bit to a voiceover, which I like even better.

  3. I agree with most of your analysis, except for Tracy. I didn't like the character or the actress. Perhaps if they had introduced her sooner there would have been time to adjust. There was too much retro-conning for me. It seemed like the producers said "it's our final season; better introduce the Mother!"

    How could the show spend the last 2 seasons setting up Barney and Robin, getting us to buy into them as a couple, only to wipe in all away with the divorce?