We Met The Mother, now what?

2 fangirls on the How I Met Your Mother series finale.

A: I think what was straight out disappointing with watching the HIMYM series finale was how disconnected it was to the entire series. The lifeblood of the show’s 9-year run was the development of these characters we’ve come to love, their journey into adulthood and how they triumph over their flaws as they mature. For one, we saw Barney become jaded with his sleazeball ways and realize that it is only one person he needed to be happy; we saw Robin choose to stay in New York in the name of love at the end of Season 5. Season 9 is a 23-episode long culmination of that as we saw Barney and Robin struggle to stay together and get married, despite their flaws and issues. And then there’s Ted in his journey to let the girl of his dream go and move on to be able to be with the right person. But the series finale sees to it that they all backslide, and it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. It feels like a con job.

J: It seems like the fans were cheated out of the entire thing. I mean, why build everything up to see it all come crashing down, when you have the choice not to do that in the first place?

Spoiler: Some of them didn't 'Last Forever'

Spoiler: Some of them didn't 'Last Forever'

A: From the looks of it, business decisions got in the way. This finale was close-ended and had been planned from the show’s inception. Bays and Thomas knew that it was always gonna be Robin for Ted, and maybe we should have clued in on and held on to that very first episode of Season 1. It’s like, the French Blue Horn was the pinnacle of Ted’s romantic gestures, and everything else should have been patsies . But it doesn’t really feel that way. What they didn’t account for was the stretched-out years in between. Somewhere along the way, I think they made a mistake in making Robin and Barney an item, just like how Rachel and Joey was a mistake. I liked Swarkles. I shipped it hard. And now I have a broken heart.

J: I think that what made the finale so controversial was the Robin-Ted ending. It could have ended with the train station scene alone, and it would’ve been sufficient. That made fans question the length of the series, and the entirety of the material itself.

I won’t lie, I didn’t hate the Robin-Ted Blue French Horn scene at the ending. But only if we subtract Robin and Barney’s marriage, and the idea of the Mother (the way they built her up) from the equation – it would’ve saved us a lot of time, but it wouldn’t incur so much profit for the business either.

Swarkles is not like Rachel and Joey! I was always a Ted and Robin fan, but grew tired of it after so many scenes of closure between Ted and Robin that never seemed like the last one. I warmed up to the idea of Swarkles eventually. They didn’t make sense, were unconvincing and illogical, but I thought that that’s the way they worked.

I think I saw the story of the finale in a fan theory somewhere on the Internet. It crossed my mind that maybe the producers/writers didn’t really have this specific ending in mind, but filmed alternate versions, and chose one similar to something from the pool of fan theories that sprang over the years.

A: I didn’t mind the length as much as the feeling of being misled. It’s exactly that, actually: was Barney supposed to be a filler because the creators ran out of idea to make the character interact (like Rachel and Joey) until they can make Ted and Robin get back together? It doesn’t feel like it. Robin and Barney was so fleshed out, and that’s why the seasons’ worth of build up was a waste.

For a fan who’s been religiously following this series for a very. Very. Long time, I felt like I’ve been getting the wrong moral lesson out of it. For crying out loud, it was supposed to be a show entitled How I Met Your Mother, and yet we barely knew her. Though, kudos, still, should be given to how the creators came about into getting the audience to know her. The non-linear narrative, done through time jumps and flashbacks, was always one of the show’s strong points, and in this aspect remains true. Tracy McConnell’s appearances, though short, was sweet. And there’s probably injustice in that. We are all Ted: we’ve been waiting for the mother all our lives (or for us, 9 years) but then she’s dead, and it feels unfair. But maybe that’s just life. What’s bothering is that we didn’t see Ted grieve.

The Mother: dying for a greater cause?

The Mother: dying for a greater cause?

J: I was bothered by the length. I was willing to wait for nine whole seasons. Well, I did give up midway through season 9, but I came back when I learned that they were dropping bits of the story of Ted and the Mother in certain episodes, like dropping crumbs of bread in the dark forest. Even by the time season 5 came, there was already an air of restlessness in the audience, and Ted’s relationships after that felt like unnecessary and annoying fillers. I was willing to wait, but I guess, not necessarily for that ending.

Also, it is bothering that the weekend of a marriage that broke down in three years’ time was stretched out over a whole season, when about fifteen years of their lives were congested in less than what seems like 40 minutes. The whole weekend before the wedding is not enough preparation for the finale, it wasn’t even the right preparation for it.

Perhaps Tracy McConnell’s appearances were kept as short as possible, for the audience not to miss her so much when they drop the bomb that is the Ted-Robin ending. That’s hard enough to accept as it is, but if the audience has been with her for too long, it would’ve hurt so much more. But then again, the audience waited for her for what seems like the length of the time Ted waited for her as well, and it was definitely hard to learn that she’ll die, and that she hasn’t been with Ted for even more than ten years.

Could it be that we all have the chance of meeting our true love, yet that very same insight is not a guarantee that we’ll be with them for as long as forever could take? Cheesy stuff.

And as such, could this be a battle between the blue french horn and the yellow umbrella? Is it a “love of his life” vs “girl of his dreams” kind of thing? If you couldn’t get one, could you get the other?

Tracy grieved Max’s loss for years. How could Ted just do that?

A: But didn’t The Mother’s version of La Vie en Rose just melt your heart? At this point, I was completely in love with her, and the idea of Ted breaking free from his funk.

Well, if there’s one thing I learned, it’s that loving other people doesn’t mean you love your first “true” love any less. Tracy married Ted, and it doesn’t mean she loved Max any less; I believed Ted loved Tracy, but his love for Robin never waned. Thematically, there’s also a choice versus destiny thing going on here: Ted and Tracy needed to happen, and they realize that at the train station. Donna Bowman made a finer point in saying “Happiness breeds confidence. Confidence means being who you are. And that blue French horn isn’t just the ultimate call-back, a salute to symmetry. It’s Ted, all in and unafraid.” It’s just a tad sad that getting our taste of realism in a series that touts love and destiny as its premise comes with a price: Barney knocks up a girl we don’t even know the name of and returns to being a douche. The mother conveniently dies to give Ted to pursue the girl who got away.

Ted Mosby: Horn-y till the end
Ted Mosby: Horn-y till the end

J: Yes, the version of La Vie En Rose and all the scenes of closure between Robin and Ted made me think that this is in fact the end, and that we’re left with the Mother and Ted.

I was alright with Barney going back to his ways, because that’s who he is. Regardless of it being not necessarily adherent to social norms, Barney’s lifestyle is Barney’s. If they changed him, he would keep on struggling to be something he’s not, or struggling against what he’s supposed to be. I guess I was just mourning the loss of the Barney-Robin dynamic during the whole stretch of season 9.

Isn’t it a tad late for the choice vs destiny theme when it took them nine seasons to be pro-destiny? But then it was time for the wake up call, or rather to inject some sense or dose of reality to it all.

A: But the whole story of Ted and the Mother is destiny! He got her yellow umbrella, she was his ex’s room mate. There’s a strong underlying idea that Ted will eventually meet the one for him, given the right time and circumstances.

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J: So there are two ways to look at this, akin to our differing perspectives on life: to accept it and rationalize the ending (which is kind of fun as well), or point out its flaws with the accompanying realization that it is unfair. And the justifications in either perspective sounds logical, even as applied to the finale.

In the One Tree Hill pilotl, Lucas and Peyton shared a moment and looked at each other. When the show was in its fifth season, the season finale was a cliffhanger regarding who would Lucas choose between Lindsay, Brooke, and Peyton. The creator, Mark Schwann, said that from the pilot, with the way they looked at each other, it was always Lucas and Peyton. And I now think that the same is akin to HIMYM, in that we should have been alerted somehow when we watched the pilot that it was always going to be Ted and Robin, with the way Ted looked at Robin, the way he described her, and that he started the story with Robin. Perhaps it is then fitting that it should end with Robin as well.

A: Precisely. But here, that’s 9 seasons ago, buffered in between by a early failed relationships and countless bimbos. But hey, as Ted’s kids said, it wasn’t so much as a story about the mother, but how Ted wanted to ask Robin out. The title is basically misleading and the 9 years was a long long con.

J: It might take some time to process things. It’s like saying goodbye to Friends all over again, the more sentimental, less comic yet equally entertaining version of it. It doesn’t really make sense emotionally, but it is logical. Without the ending of “Can I date your Aunt Robin?” there wouldn’t be any purpose to tell the entire thing in the first place. I think it was kind of admirable on Ted’s part to be so transparent with his children.

And in the end, the Mother’s presence made sense as well. She was not only there for Ted, but she brought the gang back together again for their wedding after Robin became MIA. She played such a pivotal role for everyone, to the point where it seems like she has no other friends.

It is difficult to accept, but what isn’t in this life?

A: HIMYM is a sitcom, at the end of the day, so maybe we should give it a break. But in a time when TV is taken seriously and season finales warrant a very long blog entry, credit has to be given where credit is due. Is it the ending these characters whom we’ve come to love, need? In a stretch, yes. Going back to your Barney argument, it’s precisely en pointe on the loads and loads of character development that they chose to flush down the drain in this finale after painstakingly developing him. Ultimately, Barney learns to be unselfish through having a child–something Robin can’t provide. We see Marshall and Lilly get their dreams but struggle with real-life issues. We know Marshall eventually loses in his quest to become “Fudge Supreme,” and we never saw Lilly follow up on her career. So yes, it’s a surprisingly real-to-life ending. But is it the ending which they, the characters, and us, the audience, deserve?

Barney saying his pick-up line to his kid.
Barney greets his kid with a pick-up line

I don’t. It wasn’t gracious in the aspects that mattered, but showed snippets of pretty that teared me up and made me laugh–Ted watching the Mother play bass, the “Just be cool, lady. Daaamn!” and “I’ve kept this story short and to the point!” and of course, the ultimate callback of the blue French horn.

All in all, it was the show we’ve come to love, and no matter how it would’ve ended, it still would’ve broken our hearts in one major way or another. Salutes are in order.

J: While it is not the ending that the audience deserves, it is the ending that the characters are perfectly happy with. And here’s another reason for the Ted-Robin ending: Ted represents the destiny argument, and Robin, the choice argument. The combination of both is not fatal, but shown as something better.

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As a sitcom, it didn’t have to make sense, as long as the emotional aspect is in check. But the show reversed that, by saying that we may need some time to process things, but it is logical.

It was nice knowing Ted, Robin, Barney, Lily, Marshall, and of course, Tracy. We’ve come a long way, so here’s to Ted, who finally found the one, whoever she may be.

 

PS: As of this posting time, it’s officially past April Fool’s in MNL, and there’s still no evidence that this Series finale isn’t an elaborate April Fool’s hoax. It’s still April 1 in the US. Some of us remain hopeful for more himym.

PPS: That ending song, written specifically for the show, is to die for. -A

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