The finale of How I Met Your Mother, the groundbreaking sitcom that made us forget about Friends and look at The Big Bang Theory as little more than a guilty pleasure, aired earlier this week (March 31). Without question, it is going to go down among the most divisive television finales in history.
This review contains spoilers from here onwards.
Following an unbalanced & gimmicky and final season, the episode only took ten minutes for a shock-development; Barney and Robin get divorced whilst Ted and The Mother progressed in with their perfect relationship with success and charm.
The episode flashed to interceding moments of a decade when the group settled down and moved on from their bar-adventures. Barney’s ending, fathering a daughter from a one-night-stand felt just, and gave Neil Patrick Harris a scene with that could be the highlight of the episode, making Josh Radnor somewhat secondary in the show he leads. Robin was separated from the group, unable to deal with Barney and pondering about Ted. Everyone got their final dramatic or hilarious moment.
We watch the tender first meeting of Ted and the Mother. The moment was carried out with strong dialogue and putting them under the iconic umbrella, jokes linking moments from the whole series and with lovely acting from the pair, it faded out; they lived happily ever after, making the series feel complete.
Until Mosby’s children respond, telling him he’s still in love with Robin, and it’s okay as “mom’s been gone six years”. Suddenly, the final minute of the episode is Ted outside Robin’s window with the less iconic Blue French Horn.
The joyful music playing out over the end credits is unjust. Out of nowhere, the series changes the tone entirely, and in two minutes, nine years of stories building up to the fact that Ted and Robin do not belong, and a season building up to a marriage of extreme significance, is felt unjustified.
The problem is not matching up the characters the way they do, but the execution. The clip show style finales of season seven and nine, featuring enough skits that feel like missed-out episodes lead you to wonder how they justify a tale that has left so many dissatisfied.
The character development of Barney for four seasons is thrown away and crammed into one scene here. The tragedy of Ted’s wife (who might as well have remained nameless as she died off-screen moments after we learnt exactly who she is) is rushed, and having devoted so much increasingly dull screen-time to the failings of Ted and Robin, we are left to assume that they were meant for each other after all. The series loses touch with itself and lets itself down.
Many are disappointed. The first 90% of the episode was a rollercoaster of HIMYM only to be destroyed by the final two minutes. Every episode now builds towards that moment when we finally see Ted meet the perfect woman; then her death, and an aged Ted still obsessed with French Horns and Robin. It was done to take advantage of an idea from ten years ago, but did no-one think to challenge this sporadic and inconsistent aftertaste with which to end the series?
An interesting tale, just not told in a way that is up to scratch with its’ own standards, and fails only at the first hurdle. Interesting enough to create debate, but with a warm and emotional sitcom like this, it might not have been what we wanted.