‘How I Met Your Mother’s Series Finale is an emotional and fulfilling end.

Ignore the petty backlash. Despite some clear flaws, ‘How I Met Your Mother’s Series Finale is an emotional and fulfilling end. 

“…but I’m glad it was long and difficult because if I hadn’t gone through hell to get there, the lesson might not have been as clear.”

After 9 years enjoying the exploits of MacLaren’s Pub’s best customers, this April saw the final moments of CBS’s ‘How I Met Your Mother’ grace American television in the form of two-parter ‘Last Forever’, which hits British television in less than 24 hours. But you’ve already streamed it, right?

Not since the finales of Friends and Frasier 10 years ago, have we eagerly awaited a resolution to so many years of farcical laughs & poignant drama that only the best written sitcoms manage to deliver. Despite its speedy pace, I found the show’s final hour to be an emotional rollercoaster up until the credits rolled; a worthy & fulfilling ending, yet already a significant portion of the fan-base and media have vocalized their dissatisfaction.

It’s not uncommon for a series’ end to leave a lot to be desired. ‘Lost’ seemed to bury you in unanswered questions until you ‘lost’ interest and ‘Heroes’ inconsistent plot weaved itself in to obscurity, while ‘Firefly’ and ‘Studio 60…’ were cancelled before the seeds of their brilliance could be planted within the minds of the masses.

While I acknowledge a couple of the HIMYM finale’s shortcomings, I’ve witnessed paragraphs of petty annoyance and bile enthused anger, both of which come across as uninformed; too lazy to embrace the show’s true soul. I have felt so inclined to address some on the key arguments and hopefully calm the nerves of some commentators that simply need to watch the show again; preferably with a glass of wine and some subtle mood lighting. From here on out; spoilers.

‘The death of Tracy ‘The Mother’ McConnall’

We may as well tackle the two largest elephants in the room. One of the most common theories regarding the show was that the mother would in fact be deceased; explaining her absence in the flash forwards and why Ted had been annoying his children with the story in the first place. Now that this has been proved correct, the opinion seems to be a resounding “We only just met her! What was the point?”, that there was an entire season of building up Tracy with no pay off of her and Ted living together happily. After all, isn’t that what we’ve been promised all along? Well, no actually. I’ll discuss that in a moment. Combine these protests with incorrect assumptions that Ted had felt guilty for loving Robin all along; telling the story in order to have his children’s blessing, and you have some very upset, albeit misinformed fans. Let’s rectify this.

‘A 9 year build up to that?!’

Remember the title and concept of the show. Ted is telling his two children an extremely drawn out and tangent filled story about the events leading up to how he met their mother. No detail is spared. A large portion of the story is unnecessary, but everything is relevant. The story, and therefore the concept, ends as soon as they meet, which is why we have so many montages and flash forwards to their many happy years together. Through the detailed story of Robin and Barney’s wedding in Farhampton, we are witness to his own recollections of what came later; their return trips to that very hotel, their engagement, the birth of their children; just a few key moments of many in their treasured life together, along with Ted’s admittance that through ‘through every speed-bump, every pang of jealousy’, he was devoted to loving her. And then she dies. While unfortunate, this is not only an excellent explanation for the framing of the show, but the 9 year length is justified by just how important all that time was to him, how every moment played a part in bringing him and his wife together.

‘Robin & Barney’s Marriage and subsequent Divorce’

I was never keen on the marriage between Robin and Barney; it always felt like they were going against their instincts. I don’t doubt that they loved each other, but their circumstances always had them at odds. Their marriage struck me as them choosing what was best for them, a committed marriage & security, rather than what they selfishly wanted; Robins career and Barneys independence. Their split was inevitable, but handled responsibly & maturely.   

‘Barney’s Daughter’

Barney returns to his age old tricks, it’s in his DNA, but this sets in motion the finale of Barney’s story arc. While the episode leaves out key information, such as how the woman that ruined his ‘perfect week’ was happy to bravely fulfill the pregnancy yet let Barney adopt and be a sole parent; Barney comes full circle in a touching moment where we meet the one girl that could tame him. His daughter.   

‘Return of the Blue French Horn’

At no point was this show an entire 9 seasons of a father persuading his children to give him permission to go after their honorary aunt, as some have claimed. This was a man’s honest and passionate tribute to every action that brought him to that train platform & his deceased soul-mate. This was his children witnessing their father grieve and remain single for 6 years, while witnessing his subconscious fondness for Robin, despite his devotion to not recognising this as anything more as friendship. So many points throughout the series have tied Ted and Robin together; both maturing in such a way that hinted at them actually managing to be a couple some day. Teds children allow him to realise that maybe he could once again find that happiness with Robin.  

And if he is going to be with anyone, or at least attempt happiness once again, why not with the woman he has loved (in various ways) since he laid eyes on her, and who his children adore and endorse? 

In Conclusion…

The finale’s major fault is its length, or lack of. Despite being a double episode, the finale is rushed and incomplete; a jumpy pacing nightmare that lacks some key moments. While clearly devoted, we do not see Barney as a happy parent enjoying his role. While career focused, we do not see Robyn missing her friends after Ted’s wedding, or the homely moments the two shared after Tracy’s death. Most importantly, we do not see Ted mourn for 6 years. Including these may have rounded the characters significantly and filled them out, ensuring we understand their conditions. Ted describes his wife’s descent into illness, finally introduces the moment they met, and then goes running after Robin within the same two minutes, and the result is uncomfortable.

Alyson Hannigan has said herself that the finale was lacking key scenes, including a “gut-wrenching” funeral scene, and that the show suffered because of this. While clearly rushed and over flowing, the numerous heartfelt & honest ‘goodbyes’ between the cast members are authentic and moving.

Despite its failings, the finale is a fitting end. I cannot watch the finale without being moved myself, and I respect the creators decisions. Nobody is happy when good things end, especially when the ending isn’t perfect; but though you may feel the final moments were soured, do not mourn. Instead, reflect on the long fulfilling journey that we all knew would have to end sometime.

by Jason Thorn /  Twitter/Tumblr: @JasonIsLost

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