by Katherine Aliano Ruiz
|Too bad the finale wasn’t nearly this satisfying.|
I’m a sucker for parallels, so in theory, the final scene of How I Met Your Mother’s series finale where Robin opened her window, looked out and saw Ted with the blue French horn while uplifting music played in the background should have made me absolutely giddy. It didn’t. At all.
What makes me truly irate isn’t the fact that Ted and Robin got together in the end; it was how rushed and wrong it felt. A whole season surrounded Robin and Barney’s wedding, with the characters constantly reiterating the strength and endurance of their love only to have them divorce in the span of twenty minutes. Meanwhile, Ted and the Mother were going strong throughout the entire finale until its very last moments. I really, genuinely loved Tracy (the Mother), and I loved her and Ted together. For the first time, Ted Mosby, chronic sufferer of Nice Guy Syndrome, was in a mature, adult relationship where he didn’t idealize the woman he was with and didn’t try to fix her in any way. And then she died. The writers spent nine years crafting a story around the Mother, only to have her be a plot device that would simultaneously allow Ted to have the children Robin never wanted to give him and get her out of the way so Ted could end up with Robin. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s 2014 and women are still being used as plot devices.
I’ve read some positive reviews that point out that the narrative has always been about Ted and Robin. After all, the show doesn’t begin with how Ted met Marshall or Lily—two very influential moments in his life—it begins with how Ted met Robin. And here’s the thing—I could get behind that interpretation and the final moment if that was the story the writer’s actually executed. The creators of HIMYM filmed Penny and Luke’s final reactions to Ted’s story in season two. That means the writers have known for seven years that the Mother was going to die and Ted and Robin were going to be together. Why on earth then would they, knowing their ending, write the show the way they did? If the primary narrative was indeed Robin and Ted ending up together, then the writers should not have spent countless seasons proving time and time again that the Robin/Ted relationships was insanely unhealthy and more about obsession and consolation than actual love. The show was littered with hints about the Mother, making her the constant theme and destination in Ted’s life. If the creators truly wanted us to be so keen on accepting their ending, maybe they should have used the ninth season to show us all the years that they sped through in the finale. At least that would have the semblance of emotional payoff.
Beyond even that, this finale was a disservice to every major character. Lily and Marshall were cordoned off to the side, left only to react to the Ted/Robin/Barney drama going on. Lily spends about two-thirds of the finale either crying, pregnant, or both. We never find out about her career or her year in Rome. This from a character who was written as being terrified of becoming just a mother and a wife, who wanted more out of life and wanted to pursue her love for art. But nope, let’s give her two more kids and no resolution. And how they botched Barney Stinson. After showing so much growth (both through his relationship to Robin and without her), he’s back to his playbook writing days. It literally made no sense. But at least his baby daughter made him a new kind of misogynist that tells women to put more clothes on! And then Robin Scherbatsky. To make it seem like her successful career life meant nothing without Ted’s love was just. I can’t even finish that sentence, that’s how upset it made me. I loved these characters, spent nine years with them, and to see everything they wanted to accomplish rushed through or made to seem meaningless made me upset.
Overall, it was just a sloppy execution of what could have been an interesting idea. It was an ending that they created without working for it, without taking the time to construct a story that would show the viewers why it made sense. More than anything, it just really makes me sad. Sad to think that I invested a lot of time and care into characters and their development only to have them regress back into their season one selves.
Katherine Aliano Ruiz is a first-year at Barnard and a staff writer for The Nine Ways of Knowing.
Image courtesy of AceShowbiz.