Photo: Courtesy of CBS.
Ouch is all I can say. Ouch, ouch, ouch. I'm talking about the reaction to the How I Met Your Mother finale, of course. I don't know if I've ever read an angrier set of tweets — and I was there for the last episode of Lost. I'm completely respectful of the opinions of HIMYM's long-standing fans (after all, I am one), but I think most of them got it all wrong. Yes, if all you were looking to get out of this show is a direct path to the big reveal of the mother and neatly wrapped-up love story then you were probably disappointed with the ending. But, that's never been what this show is about. It's my humble opinion that Ted ending up with anyone but Robin would have felt forced and fake.
To start things off, I'll address what I didn't like. I didn't like that this season felt way too long. Centering the final 24 episodes around one long weekend was a unique idea, but one that didn't really deliver the way it could have. I was always rooting for Ted and Robin, but the writers gave them so many back-and-forth story lines that even I got exasperated. Plus, that whole Robin-as-a-balloon-floating-away-on-the-beach thing? That was painful. But, the cast constantly insisted that there was a long game at play here, and last night we saw it. The worst show endings come when you can feel the improvisation, and that was clearly not the case here. The HIMYM higher powers had the ending planned all along, and that to me feels satisfying and genuine.
Now, sure, the concept that [SPOILER ALERT] the Mother has been dead all along could seem a little far-fetched to some. It's certainly an extremely bold move to kill off one of the titular characters of a show after we've been waiting eight years to get to know her. I had the premonition that this was going to happen after one of this season's flash-forwards (when Ted and the Mother tear up at the thought of not being at a daughter's wedding), and my first reaction to this possible premise was shock and anger. But, I'm satisfied with the way the plot twist played out.
Yes, the ending (and much of the show) was messy. But, real life — and real love — is messy, too. I don't feel conned by Barney and Robin's divorce. Yes, the show invested a lot of time trying to convince us that we should get behind them as a couple just to break them apart, but isn't that just how things work sometimes? Lots of people get divorced, and not one single couple goes into a marriage with that result in mind. Everyone thinks their relationship will work, and a lot of them are wrong — just like Barney and Robin.
I also don't feel conned by the search for the Mother. If there's anyone still watching this show who thinks that the meeting between her and Ted is the big reveal, they are just not getting it. HIMYM has always been about relationships and how they change; Ted's path to the Mother was just a device to lead us through the real meat of the story. Maybe you're pissed that Ted really did end up with Robin after all sorts of twists and turns, but that's how real life is — things are messy and complicated, and in the end, we realize we just want to be happy. Ted was happy with the Mother, and now he'll be happy with Robin. That's all I need.