Now that we’ve all had a few days to process the rather rapid last episode of “How I Met Your Mother,” clearer heads should prevail. No, I don’t mean the backlash against the frustrating series finale will dissipate. Rather, it should become more focused. Emotional reactions will be set aside, and a thorough examination of what went wrong can rise to the surface. After all, we’re not just going to forget about a show that dominated ratings, took up nine years of our lives, and will most likely live forever as a rainy Saturday streaming option on Netflix.
But while some of us were tossing our remotes in the air or calling our friends to affirm our complaints, one fan was hard at work creating the ending we all deserved. Okay, maybe it didn’t take that much work, but the video below from YouTube user Ricardo J. Dylan is nevertheless the perfect ending we didn’t get Monday night.
In case you recklessly risked reading up to this point, major spoilers will ensue.
Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of “How I Met Your Mother” as a whole was its incredible creativity. From its constant time-jumping narrative structure, to big musical numbers, to lengthy one shots with moving set pieces, this major network sitcom constantly broke ground in how it told its story. Some of it worked and some of it didn’t, but the effort was always there. That effort, however, took on its worst form yet in Monday’s series finale, an episode that felt like a concentrated effort by the show to pull the rug out from under us while tugging our heart strings. We didn’t need another twist. We just needed the payoff.
The biggest complaint regarding an episode truly littered with mistakes big and small is and always will be that Ted and Robin ended up together — and the how is as upsetting as the why. The why seems to be because creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas wanted to pull one more surprise out of their hats. Determined to please both Robin-worshippers and fans waiting to meet the mother, they concocted a scheme in which the mother dies (a twist accurately predicted right here on Indiewire) and Ted goes after the woman of his dreams with the blessing of his children. Paraphrasing, Ted’s kids said something to the effect of, “That story barely had anything to do with the mother. Clearly you’re in love with Robin.” While it makes sense for a widowed Ted to let his current feelings sway how he tells his children a story, his instincts betray him and the show in a number of ways, making the how unbearable to watch.
First, this is a story about a deceased mother being told to the children who no longer have her around. Inappropriate doesn’t begin to describe how it was told. More importantly, though, the finale episode itself did damage to both parties, the Mother and Robin. The mother becomes a secondary character, a person we don’t even see die and someone only important to the group because of a few random events on the wedding weekend. Waiting for her reveal is thus rendered somewhat pointless, and the show’s dismissal of her in favor of the person some fans always suspected to be the mother (despite many clues) makes the mother — and the finale itself — far less meaningful.
Even more damning a sin, however, is what happens to Robin in the last 42 minutes of “How I Met Your Mother.” Her marriage to Barney falls apart after three years, and the only reason given is her dream job ruined their lives. She became a worldwide celebrity, a reporter of great stature, and that accomplished dream lead to the disintegration of a marriage we just spent a whole season gearing up to see. Now it’s all for naught? Some may claim otherwise, but we’ve already gone over why Ted meeting the mother doesn’t make up for the other major storyline of season nine falling flat. Both are thrown under the bus in the end, along with Robin herself as the character becomes distant from her group of friends, purposefully alienating herself from the group because either a) her job is more important, or b) she’s waiting for Ted to bring her the blue French horn.
Neither sound like the Robin that grew into the devoted friend and wife to Barney (of all people) we came to know in the previous eight seasons. She always valued her work — as she should — but she was willing to give all that up for a man when she was offered a job in Chicago and instead chose to stay with her boyfriend Don (rabbit or duck?). Of course, Don then took the job and left her, but her choice was still relevant. She had developed her priorities and proven that strong women don’t have to sacrifice love for work or vice versa. Much like Leslie Knope on “Parks and Recreation,” the battle between work and romance was well depicted by Robin on “How I Met Your Mother” — until this final episode.
So what does Dylan’s ending have that the on air version lacked? In a word, closure. We’re given a heartfelt finale, an appropriate end to the arc of a relationship — you meet, you date, you get married. Instead of wondering what’s to become of an elderly Ted once again pursuing Robin, we are left with our lead character in nuptial bliss with the woman he’s been searching for the entire series. I still would not have been pleased with where Robin ended up — better to let her and Barney have the happiness the show worked so hard to make us believe — but at least Ted’s story, the story we’ve been listening to for nearly a decade, the story about an aggressive and uncynical search for love, at least that story winds up right where it should — under the yellow umbrella, and not the blue French horn.