Season 9, Episode 23
Marshall Eriksen once said, “I’m not ready for this.” Tonight, I say the same thing. All the naysayers out there can complain about recent seasons being weak. And sure, maybe they are not as consistently funny the show was in its prime. But this show ALWAYS kept its heart. Tonight the gang wore their hearts on their sleeves one “Last Forever” time, and I for one was crying, for better or unfortunately worse.
I am still digesting everything we saw tonight, because holy time span, we got A LOT. And some of it was good, some of it was bad, but boy oh boy was there some grieving. Not just for the [spoiler alert] deceased Mother, but for the end of the journey we were on with this group.
I am still in disbelief that they actually went through with the dead Mother theory. I held out hope—even when we learned VERY quickly that Robin and Barney’s marriage ended in divorce—that it was just another red-herring that the show likes to pull. In fact, I felt practically triumphant in the scene at Robots vs. Wrestlers in which we learned that after all their years and kids together, Ted and the Mother never paused to get married. “Ah ha!” I shouted. “They will be planning their own belated dream wedding years down the road and it is the Mother’s mom who will be deceased….Oooh you really got me good with your little trick, HIMYM.” But nope. The cruel joke was still on me.
To top it off, we saw another highly-controversial theory come true: Ted ultimately ends up with Robin. In the year 2030, it has been six years since the Mother’s passing and Ted has finally finished his “brief and to-the-point” story. But his kids point out a very obvious and telling detail—the fact that their dear ole’ dad sure spent a lot of time talking about their Aunt Robin. They love their Aunt Robin and totally think their dad still has the hots for her. The kids give their blessing and even encourage him to give it a go. Ted goes to pick up the phone and then has a better idea. It’s been 25 years since their first date, and Ted Mosby goes back for the blue French horn to surprise her at the window with her dogs.
Sigh. Here’s my conundrum with this finale. So much of it was what the show does best: mix humor with sadness; jump the timeline into future years while also being nostalgic with references and flashbacks; and show these characters go through the ups and downs of life in a way that no other “sitcom” ever would. It did all of these things so very well, one last time. And I laughed and I cried one last time. But I am also very sad and extremely disappointed in the ultimate outcome…of what actually happened to Ted and the Mother.
Part of the problem is that the writers were almost too good all these years, and then they abused our trust at the final moment. Way back when in early seasons, I think a lot of us still held out hope for a Ted-Robin reunion. But as the seasons passed, we all became so comfortable with the idea of them NOT being together and then literally went way beyond that to the point of THEY DO NOT BELONG TOGETHER. I genuinely bought into the idea that Ted and Robin work better as friends, and they really truly worked hard to get to that platonic relationship. Not to mention how many times we watched Ted ‘let her go’ and move on. We too moved on from them as a couple.
Then, this past season, the thing that the writers did the absolute best job with was writing the Mother, who…drumroll please…is named Tracy McConnell! They made us fall in love with her just as much as Ted did. And their final scenes together tonight only solidified that bond: their adorable jokes; their mutual Renaissance appreciation; their re-proposal moment; Tracy getting Robin to their long-awaited wedding; and holy cow that even longer-awaited first meeting on the train platform with the yellow umbrella. It was all so very magical. They even have the same initials! So it was extra heartbreaking to know that Ted only had a handful of years with his beloved. I get it, I get it…life isn’t always fair and bad things happen to good people…but why to this couple, and why on a show that was supposed to ultimately be a comedy? Future Ted has had six years to process the death and find some peace with it—and fully appreciate the time he did have with her—but me? Not so much…I am just not there yet. Maybe in six years time, when I am watching reruns, I will feel more at peace with these final creative decisions. But not right now. I didn’t just want Ted to live happily ever after with the Mother we came to know…I felt I was owed it AND I needed it.
Rather than end on such a disappointing note regarding Robin, Ted and the Mother (funny that I still call her the Mother even now that we know her name), I will try to end this final blog post on a few things that I did appreciate:
- Time jumping. Lots and lots of time jumping. I really did appreciate the epic scale of this hour—after being so pent-up in one wedding weekend all season, it was a breath of fresh air to see their lives actually evolve over a lengthy amount of time. Granted, I didn’t like everything I saw in those years, especially toward the end. But overall it covered some major milestone moments for our gang and for that I am thankful. It also adequately explained some of the timeline questions I had—such as baby Penny being born the same year that Ted proposed to the Mother (2015). Turns out they postponed getting married for years because of the unexpected joys of parenthood.
- Some nice call-backs and direct flashbacks. From Robots vs. Wrestlers and “Murder Train” to Ted’s “hanging chad” Halloween costume + rooftop party and Barney’s Perfect Week, a lot of nostalgia was referenced and even expanded. How great was the Mother as a Gore-Lieberman campaigner? But I think my favorite fun call-back was the cockamouse, hands down.
- The gang’s goodbyes. While still at the wedding, Ted and the gang say their goodbyes because Ted must leave for Chicago. But the goodbye scene was wonderful. Robin got one last “Major” pleasure joke [salute]; Marshall got a Gazola’s Pizza joke; Lily got an E.T. goodbye, and Ted and Barney slapped one heck of a high-five-infinity. It was even more amusing when, barely 24 hours later, Lily and Marshall stumbled upon Ted in MacLaren’s, who did not go to Chicago because he met “a girl.”
- Babies, babies and more babies. Remember when Marshall and Lily thought they couldn’t conceive way back when? Well turns out they had three kids! We learned about Daisy a few episodes ago, but tonight we saw Lily pregnant with unnamed baby #3. And speaking of babies, Barney got #31 of his “Perfect Month” pregnant. He ended up being the father of a little girl named Ellie, and SHE was the love of his life—the one who truly changed him. Those few moments where Barney meets his daughter…give the man a friggen Emmy. But oh how I wish he and Robin could have stayed together. Yeah, the divorce part really sucked.
- Robin’s estrangement from the group. OK, so it is not so much that I LIKED this in a “isn’t that awesome” way. No, it was actually quite sad to see Robin more and more cut out from the gang as the years passed and it led to some of the most poignant moments, like her confrontation with Lily in the empty apartment. But I respected its realness. That is the kind of stuff that happens in friendships as people get older and lives move on…her friends had families and she had a big, yet lonely, career. And that is the kind of story line that I have always appreciated HIMYM for depicting in such an honest way.
- Ted and the Mother’s wedding day. Ultimately, it wasn’t a French castle for big romantic Ted. But their wedding had the whole gang together and a lot of love. It also opened the door just enough for a Robin-Barney friendship with a “Daddy’s home” comment.
- That yellow umbrella meeting. That almost-final scene, with Ted and the Mother on the platform, was just perfection. They clicked in every way possible. It was meant to be.
I just wish that the yellow umbrella train station meeting had been destined to be the final scene of the series. Because THAT moment on the platform would have been the ending I wanted, with no additional talk of death or a Robin reunion. Just Ted meeting the Mother. But ultimately, the fact that I have written and thought about and loved this show for so many years is the true testament of its legendary status.
Thanks for coming on this journey with me.