Technology vs. Humanity

How I Met Your Mother — A Finale and a fresh start

!!Spoilers alert!! !!Spoilers alert!! !!Spoilers alert!!

If you haven’t watched the final episode, move your eyes away!

Unless you don’t care about this series or haven’t been following it for a long time.

When it freaked you out, they succeeded. Most people who watched the final episode of the 9-year-long series How I Met Your Mother on Monday found it hard to accept. More than a decade of time span was crammed into less than an hour (including those annoying commercial breaks), and most of us were not prepared at all for the final twist that literally “ruins” many’s ideals about the show. To be fair, the finale was a little rushed and of course they could have done better, but it simply inherited the show’s patented wildness in its plots to the last possible second. To me it was a nice, if not perfect, conclusion of a series that’s known for its deceptive writing and massive but misleading foreshadowing. It was an ending that made sense, an ending that rewarded all watchers who kept their faith in this story until that last episode.

Of course I also found the final episode difficult to follow… Not because of its jumping-ish story-telling, but because of the things that had happened during that first 20 minutes despite the two seasons of boredom prior to that. Barney and Robin, the couple that took almost the entire 9th season to get married, got divorced during that first 20 minutes, which rendered the story of how Ted met his future wife so insignificant for almost most of the finale. As many have speculated, the Mother died from some unnamed illness six years before Ted started telling his kids the story, and Barney revered back to the same playboy he used to be after his separation from Robin. It looks like that, as always, Marshall and Lily was the only couple that did well for the ten years following that wedding, and bad luck and sadness almost filled the entire final episode. There were definitely warm moments, such as when Barney finally completed his transformation to a responsible father after he saw his daughter (conceived through a one-night stand though…), but until before the final twist it looked much like a decent, peaceful, but somewhat sad ending instead of an ending of a comedy. And then there went the final twist, which threw a huge blast on everybody, and left most of them either speechless or filled with anger and disappointment.

Ted ended up with Robin. Yes, loud and clear, and with the blessings from his kids. Many viewers didn’t buy it because they couldn’t believe how cruel the screenwriters were: they literally killed the Mother so that Ted can be together with Robin! People hated the fact that they were deceived for the previous 9 years, not by the plot, not by the words uttered by those actors and actresses, but by the very title of this show! It’s probably not “How I Met Your Mother” that matters, it’s not even the point of telling this story. Some people on Internet pointed out that the title should have been “How I Met Your Step Mother”, and I totally agree with it with lots of pleasure. But wait, how does it make it a bad finale, or how does it make it a bad series? If you don’t like twists like this, you probably made a very unwise decision to follow this series in the first place. Right, the entire show was never about the Mother, and that was why we didn’t even learn her name until the last few minutes.

What people hated most was how the series handled the Mother. To put it ugly, they simply let the Mother to gave Ted a couple of kids and then killed her off completely so Ted can end up with Robin. Perhaps I should also give credits to them for not killing Barney for God’s sake… That was sad, and even cruel, but that could be real as well. People do get sick, couples do get divorced, but Ted, as the series set it up from the very beginning until the very end, had always had that feeling for Robin. Unlike many sitcoms which give us endings rendered in complete happiness, HIMYM explored the possibility to show us and to praise something less great but equally beautiful: Ted’s childish obsession with Robin. This obsession was eclipsed by the arrival of Ted’s true love, the Mother, but unlike the Mother, which could last and proved to last shorter than Ted, this obsession would always be there with Ted until forever. And that was exactly what this entire series was about.

From the end to the beginning, the series started to make more sense than ever. The final twist was actually foreshadowed throughout the entire nine seasons: from the moment when Ted and Robin met and dated, to their frequently on-and-off and ambiguous relationship, to Ted’s break-up with Victoria and his decision to move to Chicago, and to Robin’s locket, her panic before her wedding, her divorce with Barney, and even to the very end when Ted and the Mother talked about the umbrella that was lost and found again. It had been always about Robin, just as Ted’s kids pointed out. The Mother and Ted were more like the same person in this show, but Robin was the only woman Ted had always been “after”, even literally. Towards the end of the show Ted was driven by his kids to ask Robin out, as if it were also what the Mother would ask Ted to do in heaven: go after what you think is beautiful and good, despite how odd it may sound and how lame it may look. Ted never let Robin go, which was both sad and adorable, and it’s beyond happy to see that it all worked out.

Amidst all kinds of allegations against the screenwriters of this finale, occasionally people do realize that this was the only ending that would made sense for the entire series. One person said on Twitter that it was so beautiful to show us that it was possible to have more than one great love. It was well said and I couldn’t agree more. To put it perhaps a little inappropriately, for Ted, the Mother was definitely the “Primary”, and Robin was his “Fail-safe”, and the happy part is that Ted didn’t have to go through any ethnic scrutiny to complete his switch. Of course, it had to be a one-time switch, but I also have to say it was a beautiful, perfect, and even destined switch. Without this twist the series would be broken. Unfortunately the Mother had to die, and that’s what makes this series unique, what makes it worth remembering for years.

The only sad part about this finale was actually Barney… He transformed himself so much to be married with Robin, only to end up with a divorce that was hardly due to his fault. But at least they choose to be honest to each other, which was actually more important than their marriage. The gang was always there. There were difficulties and happiness, there were weddings and funerals — this is what real life is supposed to like. I thank the screenwriters for giving us closure on all characters, thank them for showing us how an idealistic and romantic guy finally found the one (or the ones) he was longing for, and thank them for bringing us a decade full of laughters. I assure you that at least some of these will go deep in our minds and be our companies for the rest of our lives. Thank you, How I Met Your Mother, for your lovely, romantic, and legendary story.

So guys, stop being mad at the last episode. Years from now when you look back, I’m sure you will feel that without that last episode HIMYM would be nothing but an average sitcom with some good moments. But for now, it was a sitcom with good moments, as well as a legendary ending which we can talk about.