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HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER Couldn't "Last Forever"

How I Met Your Mother poster

Written by : published Tuesday 1st April 2014

I am deeply torn by last night series finale of CBS's How I Met Your Mother, "Last Forever." On one hand, it hit all the right notes emotionally and delivered a very satisfying tale for almost the full hour. On the other, the ending of the installment abandoned the basic premise and ruined a powerful love story, even negating the title of the show. Was this the right way to go?

"Last Forever" starts excellently. The gang says goodbye after the wedding, and after noticing the beautiful bass guitarist, Ted (Josh Radnor) departs. Much of the rest of the episode plays out in small bits over a number of years, showing the characters go through natural growth and nostalgically reviving many recurring jokes, with Ted still on the train platform talking to Bernice (Judith Drake). When we're close to the end, viewers finally get to witness the moment Ted meets The Mother, now revealed to be named Tracy (Cristin Milioti), and it's immediate sparkage.

Ted and The Mother's (Can I just keep calling her The Mother? It feels right) love story is a sweet one, full of coincidence and fate, a pair destined to be together. Their interactions in the various time periods hammer home why Ted ends up with her, and how perfect the casting of Milioti is. They have two children, and while they don't get married for quite awhile, they are happy together.

Similarly, Marshall (Jason Segel) and Lily (Alyson Hannigan) have a wonderful life, Marshall eventually getting to be a judge after all, and then moving out of the city after they have three children. Lily laments how the gang has drifted, but that is realistic, given the developments adult life and kids take one on. At least they mostly keep in touch, and we frequently see them get back together.

But then, as has been telegraphed, The Mother dies. Ted is telling the tale, what we've seen these past nine seasons, to his teenage kids six years after her passing. The daughter (Lyndsy Fonseca) tells her father that this story isn't about how he met The Mother, though, as she's barely in it. It's about how Ted loves Aunt Robin (Cobie Smulders), and with his children's encouragement, Ted grabs the blue French horn and rushes off to be with Robin.

This bit is a picture perfect moment that will warm the hearts of those stubborn hold-out Robin / Ted shippers, but it completely screws up everything else. Why is the show called How I Met Your Mother is it's about How I Met Your Stepmother? Why did the final season spend so much time convincing us Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) and Robin are right for one another if they aren't?

Look, I realize Ted has always been an unreliable narrator, and it's keeping with his character to not understand the point of his own story. But it's a big leap to ask fans to forget the path you've been trying to take them down for so many seasons and go in another direction. Not to mention, it cheapens the epic relationship between Ted and The Mother, who was right for Ted in every way. And the fact that The Mother makes a huge effort to get Robin to their wedding in an earlier episode, if we are to believe Ted always remained in love with Robin, now seems twisted and weird.

It also almost kills the character of Barney, collateral damage. Barney spends a lot of the past few years maturing and getting to a good place. Three years after the wedding, he's divorced and reverting to his old ways, chasing skirts. This goes on for many years until Barney is a pathetic, unlikeable character. True, he is saved in the end by a daughter, and that's fantastic, but it's still ridiculous that Barney never finds true, romantic love.

How I Met Your Mother has been uneven in the second half of its run. However, it has mostly been nailing this last season. To make such a slap in the face at the last moment to the fans who believed in the premise is disheartening. It's cruel and not the right choice. A small segment of the audience will be quite satisfied, but there are many, many more who will feel betrayed. If the creators knew nine years ago what their climax was, why spend all of this time convincing us the opposite was true? A near-perfect ending tainted by the final bits.

And if I can make one more complaint, when filming the kids' last moment several years ago, Radnor should have been on set with them. The way Ted's conversation to them is presented is two separate cuts that don't match feels awfully hokey. This should have been better.

I want to thank How I Met Your Mother for about seven great years worth of episodes over nine seasons. But I also want to ask "Why would you do this to us?" It's not the worst recent series finale by far, but it's also not way to leave the fans that believe in you.

About the author JeromeWetzelTV


Jerome Wetzel is a huge fan of stories, in both books and television. He writes TV reviews and fiction. He currently posts articles for TheTVKing, Seat42F, and BlogCritics, as well as his own personal blog, as well as writing fiction. His website is www.jeromewetzel.com Follow him on twitter @JeromeWetzelTV

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