How I Met Your Mother Finale

Apr 9, 2014 | Posted by in TV

Since the show has now come to an end I thought I would give the event a post all to itself, least I can do for a show that ran for a staggering total of 9 seasons, something that’s becoming rarer in the world of mainstream television. I thought I’d talk about the finale Last Forever followed by a little something on the series as a whole and what I thought of it.

Series finale – Season 9 Episodes 23-24 – “Last Forever” (parts 1 and 2)

A series finale is always going to be a divisive thing to viewers of a show. We have to come to terms with the fact that the show isn’t going to be on any more as well as hope that our last new episode of it is something that does the whole thing justice. This raises the problem of expectations, I was expecting something great from the last ever episode How I Met Your Mother (hereafter shortened to HIMYM) but I wasn’t entirely sure what I was expecting that greatness to be. There was the question “In my opinion was the HIMYM finale great?”

The answer – no, not really. I will say that I thought it was very good but never reaches the levels of greatness that I wanted it to. I’ll try to explain why in the coming paragraphs as well as try to put some kind of substance to what my expectations were.

Ted meets the mother of his children

The underlying premise of this show is the title, the end point of the series was clear from the first episode – this series will end when Ted meets the mother of his children. On that basis one can expect that this event will at least take place in the last episode. To that end the episode more than delivers, Josh Radnor and Cristin Milioti have such natural chemistry that it is a joy to see them on screen together, their first meeting at the train station is great. It’s funny and sweet at the same time and I thought it was a near perfect natural interaction, I really enjoyed the riffing on the initials. As for her name – Tracy McConnell, at last I can stop calling her “The Mother”- it’s a good name, let’s face it she has to be called something and whatever name they gave her could never live up to expectations, it’d be like telling you what The Doctor’s (Doctor Who) name is. I can’t see that it really makes much difference. I’ve embedded the scene below so you can see for yourself.

As for the rest of the episode, I have mixed feelings on that one. It wasn’t a bad episode by any stretch of the imagination but it did feel a little rushed considering the 22 episodes before this were showing us 48 hours where this episode speeds us through around 15 years. It was also disappointing that we spent all that time building up to a wedding that ended in divorce barely a third of a way through the finale, sort of makes the buildup seem less worthwhile. This was followed by undoing much of the character development that Barney had received over the 9 seasons in favour of returning him to his carefree, womanising ways which was again, disappointing.

The episode rapidly moves through the afore mentioned 15 years. We find out about Marshal’s job promotions, we find out that Robin is a very successful journalist, we find out that Ted’s children are born and are growing up but we never actually see any of these events and only see him with his young daughter once. We also find out almost nothing about what Lily is up to other than having children (she and Marshal have 3 by the time it’s all over). While it’s good to know that these characters have much success and happiness in their lives I can’t help but feel detached from it all, almost as if I’m watching an extended trailer for the next 15 seasons of the show rather than a fitting bookend to a long running show. Again, isolated scenes are good and memorable within that but as I said before, the word is rushed.

From a series structure point of view the finale makes little sense, the show has always been Ted telling the story of how he met the mother of his children to his children so he spends all this time talking about the 9 year period prior to them meeting and then rushes through the events up to the present day. I get that the writers wanted to give us an idea of what goes on in their lives after the show ends but there’s just not enough story here. It’s more a collection of scenes that basically amount to the visual equivalent of “then this happened…and then this happened…followed by this”.

Barney meets the love of his life

The decision to revert Barney back to essentially his season 1 character is a decision I can’t see any logic behind. I had certainly bought into the idea that he had changed and just wasn’t that guy any more but apparently he was only one divorce away from reverting completely. Barney was always my favourite character so to see him done a disservice like that is pretty annoying. He does change again when he finds out that he’s a father, the scene where he holds his little girl Ellie for the first time is fantastic, Neil Patrick Harris sells the hell out of it and it’s an interesting ending for Barney’s character as it finally causes him to respect women and grow up a little, shown when he berates a group of women for the bad decisions they’re surely soon to make. For some reason they never tell us the name of the mother of Barney’s child nor do we ever see her. 

Marshal and Lily are doing well for themselves, they have 3 kids eventually and Marshal is a supreme court judge, presumably Lily is still doing what she was doing before the finale but we don’t get to find out. These characters are both great and it’s nice to see them get the ending they deserve. There’s not much else to say about their lives as they often fill the role of participants in everyone else’s story rather than having one of their own.

Robin isn’t seen too often in the episode due to her globetrotting for her job, it is a shame since she is such a central character but I wonder if she was working on Captain America: The Winter Soldier at the time of filming this episode. At any rate, it’s disappointing to see such an important character sidelined like that in the last ever episode. What screen time she has is taken up by her reacting to events and then quickly leaving for the most part, she does have her divorce from Barney but that’s only alluded to and happens in the first third of the episode.

Ted and Tracy have a happy life within these 15 years, they have two children and eventually get married after the birth of their second child, ultimately it takes 7 years for this to happen which I have to say, I did not expect. Given Ted’s obsession with finding “The one” and how much he wanted to be married throughout the run of the show it comes as a bit of a surprise to find how long he and Tracy waited to do so. Their relationship is a lot of fun to watch in the glimpses we get and as I said, the two actors have great chemistry. It is a shame that we don’t see more of them together because it’s lots of fun to watch.

I’m not sure I can answer the question of what might have made the episode great. If it were me I don’t think I would have set Barney and Robin’s wedding weekend over the course of 22 episodes and instead would have used the time to fully establish the relationship between Ted and Tracy. The whole season could have been set across those 15 years, giving us more time to see these things develop and bring us inside the events more. The last episode could have culminated in them meeting as originally planned and still ended the way it did but give us more time to appreciate these events, not to mention see more of Tracy because as characters go she was superb.

Major spoilers from here on out

I can’t say I agree with the decision to have Tracy die prior to Ted starting the story, there was a lack of weight to it considering we hardly knew her as a character. She was funny, sweet and fit in well with the cast but she only appears in a handful of episodes and the death was basically handled as a throwaway line which didn’t help lend any gravitas to it. Similarly, having the entire story be a not so subtle hint to his kids that he was still in love with Robin and wanted to see if they were ok with him making a move on her was a poor decision – though I now understand why they spent so much time in season 9 returning to the Ted/Robin will they/won’t they plot. As far I was concerned they had moved beyond all that and were now friends. That being said we only see snippets of those 15 years so it’s entirely possible that things changed in that time, though it had only been 6 years since Tracy’s death so I’m not sure how much could have changed in that time.

Overall I liked the episode, it was funny and had sufficient fan service to justify its own existence but I think there could have been a better series finale, I’m just not entirely sure what that would be. It is by no means terrible. I will happily revisit the show at some later point and won’t cringe when I’m getting closer to the finale so that’s pretty positive I think. Well done to the cast and crew for making an ending that was both watchable and not insulting to longtime fans of the series.

The Series

I only started watching this series a couple of years ago so the only seasons that I didn’t binge watch were 8 and 9. As a latecomer to the show I saw the arcs and running jokes much closer together so was better able to latch onto them. I loved the recurring characters, the slapbet, the cockamouse, Robin’s Kylie Minogue-esque pop career and Barney’s various catchphrases -some of which have unashamedly appeared in my day to day chat-. I also want to go for a drink in McLaren’s or better yet Puzzles

There is so much else I could mention in terms of what makes this show funny to me but sufficed to say I loved it and found it to be hilarious. I genuinely believe that it was a better sitcom than Friends due to the consistent quality that I felt was maintained through all 9 seasons. Sure there was the odd dip here and there but what long running show hasn’t had that? The main thing that elevates it above Friends for me is that I didn’t find myself sick of any of the characters at any point -how many people can really say they got through the final seasons of Friends without hating pretty much everyone for one reason or another? I’m honestly not meaning to pick on that show but in terms of longetivity and genre they are pretty close.

Mainly I loved the characters, they were all fantastic in different ways by as I said before my favourite would have to be Barney. Neil Patrick Harris just inhabits that character so much and his comic timing is just incredible, I hope I can find something else to see him in after this. The other characters were great too and as an ensemble they just worked, each of them brought something different to the group and had mileage to be in stories by themselves or in smaller groups.

The destination may not have been as expected but the journey was great fun anyway. I will go so far as to dub this show LEGEN-wait for it-DARY!


Whole series rating