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How This Could Have Been Done Better: A Look at the Finale of "How I Met Your Mother"

James Canellos ‘17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Josh Radnor and Cristin Milioti in the How I Met Your Mother series finale.  Photo Credit: Ron P. Jaffe/Fox.
Josh Radnor and Cristin Milioti in the How I Met Your Mother series finale. Photo Credit: Ron P. Jaffe/Fox.

After viewing the final episode, it took a while to process everything that had just been presented to the fans of the long running series. Unfortunately, taking the entire episode in and grieving the end wasn’t why viewers had to think about for a while. Instead, many were considering how many better versions there could have been for this usually incredibly smart show.

 

The first ten minutes felt like a piece of heaven as the gang celebrates the wedding of Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) and Robin (Cobie Smulders), and as Ted (Josh Radnor) finally sees The Mother (Cristin Milioti). However, those minutes flew by as creators/writers, Carter Bays and Craig Thomas, decided to dedicate the remainder of the episode to flash-forwarding through all the pivotal moments in the character’s lives and how they’re quickly drifting apart.

It’s easy to see how well this idea could have worked, but it felt way too rushed and poorly paced. Perhaps, instead of spending all of season 9 at a hotel for a long weekend they could have stretched this episode out and made it platform of the final season. Bays and Thomas could have focused on a different year or month for each episode instead of cramming in almost 17 years worth of memories into one hour long episode. A large majority of the hour wasn’t even using The Mother, who has proven to be a great secret weapon as Milioti has stolen nearly every scene she was in. As Ted’s relationship with The Mother flourished, Barney and Robin’s quickly disintegrated after three years. Having them get divorced would not have been so much of a problem if the whole season didn’t focus on them getting married.

Neil Patrick Harris in the How I Met Your Mother series finale.  Photo Credit: CBS.
Neil Patrick Harris in the How I Met Your Mother series finale. Photo Credit: CBS.

As opposed to maturing and becoming better people from their relationship, Barney’s character took a humongous step backward after all the progress he made trying to be a better man. True, he was redeemed with the birth of his unexpected child, but even that felt too forced. Harris gave a moving performance when he met the baby, but it would have worked so much better if he didn’t say those lines, which felt like an overwrought Hallmark card. Robin was no better as she distanced herself from the gang to the point where she became the odd man out.

Yes, all of these scenarios are very plausible and seem inevitable for a lot of people, but the show has tackled depressing subject matters and transformed these topics into amusing and touching portrayals of adults trying to navigate their way through life. The saving grace of this episode was the ongoing conversation between Ted and The Mother, which became bittersweet because it feelt like Bays and Thomas wasted a perfectly good love story. Ted and The Mother’s screen time was too brief and felt overlooked along with Lily (Alyson Hannigan) and Marshall (Jason Segel), whose storyline was nowhere to be found in the finale.

As many fans assumed, The Mother passed away, making Ted a widower and inspiring him to tell his children the story of how he met her. While this was upsetting, there was again no time for it to sink in with the audience, as it was the most rushed segment of the hour. The Mother’s death wouldn’t have been such a dilemma had the show not ended with Ted’s children telling him to pursue Robin now. It’s clear that this ending was shot way back in 2004, which is why many found it so disappointing. These characters have grown and changed throughout the series. It’s been established time and time again that Ted and Robin should not be together, yet the writers keep insisting upon it. By having Ted seek Robin again, it doesn’t feel like he has learned a thing and makes the end of his love story all the more dissatisfying.

Josh Radnor in the How I Met Your Mother series finale.  Photo Credit: CBS.
Josh Radnor in the How I Met Your Mother series finale. Photo Credit: CBS.

Seeing Ted with The Mother and watching them change together and help each other out with their flaws would have made for a much better and heartfelt ending as opposed to Ted going back to square one. Ted and The Mother’s first encounter was spot on in terms of writing and chemistry. It’s exactly what fans have been waiting for and could have been expanded on. The finale was like most of Ted’s relationships, charming and full of life at first until the big picture starts to roll in and ruin everything. Maybe they’ll have better luck with the spinoff.

Overall Series Finale Grade: C-

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