(I shouldn’t have to say this with a headline like this one, but just in case you somehow stumbled in here unknowingly: spoilers ahead.)
Last night, CBS’s long-running sitcom “How I Met Your Mother” came to an end after nine seasons. Let’s just get it out there: The Mother (who was finally given a name – Tracy McConnell) dies off camera during one of Ted’s narrations, and Ted’s kids convince him to get back together with Robin in the finale’s final moments. I think those are the two biggest talking points, so let’s go through them one at a time.
First up, as I mentioned in a piece yesterday, I thought Cristin Milioti was excellent as Tracy in this final season. The moments she shared on screen with Ted – few as they may have been – were some of the show’s best, and it’s not just because there was a sense of relief (“finally, Ted is with The Mother after all these years”), but because Craig Thomas and Carter Bays did such a great job writing her character as the perfect match for Ted.
If you’ve been paying close attention to the show, you probably predicted Tracy wouldn’t make it all the way to the very end of the series, and I’ve seen some people take issue with the fact that her death happened off screen and Ted didn’t seem to mourn her properly. I have mixed feelings about the finale as a whole, but let me step in on this point and defend this choice: I thought the way they handled Tracy’s death was just about perfect, and it reminded me a lot of the heartbreaking death sequence in Disney-Pixar’s Up. While this didn’t have the benefit of Michael Giacchino’s beautiful score playing underneath it, I thought the way the showrunners chose to not spend much time on Tracy’s sickness and death allowed the audience to fill in our own ideas of the love and loss Ted felt at her passing. By giving us the chance to transfer our own experiences onto the character, Tracy’s death felt much more personal than it would have otherwise.
So that’s one thing. Now let’s get to the other one. I can’t help but think the decision for Ted to get back together with Robin was ill-advised. Not only did the showrunners spend the past couple of years trying to get the audience to invest in a Barney/Robin relationship that they ultimately destroyed twenty minutes into the finale (one episode after their marriage, which took up THIS ENTIRE FINAL SEASON), but going back to the Ted/Robin thing feels so…four years ago. Bays and Thomas clearly had this ending in mind for a long time (the footage with the kids was shot years ago, when they were still young enough to look close to the way they did in the pilot), but there are only so many times the audience can be jerked around before a reveal like that no longer carries the emotional weight it’s intended to carry. And the fact that they spent two episodes this season dealing with Ted letting go of Robin (the one in which she literally floats away from him on the beach, and the one in which he turns her down when she tries to run away from the wedding and marry him instead) completely undercuts Ted’s character growth in those moments.
Ted needed to get over Robin before The Mother could enter his life, and that’s exactly what happened. But after Tracy dies, Ted going back to Robin feels like a “safe” choice that’s simply uninspired at this point. After all that…Robin? I mean, Robin’s an awesome character and everything (much cooler than Ted, who was THE WORST for a while in his whiny years), and it’s not like these two don’t deserve happiness. But having Robin be available for Ted seemed to diminish her character a bit (she’s just been sitting around waiting for him to ask her out this whole time?), and…I don’t know. Even with the blue French horn, something just felt off about it to me.
What did you think about the series finale? Did it live up to your expectations? Did it ruin the entire show for you? Should Ted and Robin have ended up together? I want to hear from you guys.
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