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How I Met Your Mother “Last Forever, Parts 1 and 2” Review (9×23/9×24)

31 Mar

Finalever

Kids, let me tell you the story of a little show called How I Met Your Mother, a show that I’ve spent a good amount of my life with, a show that I’ve loved and hated and stuck with and almost quit. It began in the fall of 2005, and the journey that it took us on was entertaining, emotional, and downright beautiful. And that, kids, is why I’m disappointed by this finale.

“Last Forever” goes back on some of what made these characters and this show so great, minimizing the Mother and shoehorning in a rushed, tonally dissonant ending that, as much as I admire their commitment to it all these years, just doesn’t work at all; at this point in the story, that isn’t what should happen. One of the greatest things about this show has been its illustration of changing times and experiences, and the episode completely discards that idea by culminating in an ending that would’ve only worked nine years ago. No, I didn’t watch the show solely as a vehicle bringing Ted to the Mother, but there’s no question that the payoff with her is an essential aspect of the story; hell, it’s in the title.

How I Met Your Mother is about the story, those little moments that built up over time as the characters grow and love and cry, living through happiness and heartbreak and romance and laughter. There’s always disappointment, but there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel for Ted Mosby; he’s supposed to meet the Mother and live out his life with her and his two kids. No, life doesn’t always work out that way–that’s what the finale seems to be saying, after all–but that’s the very essence of the show, that optimism that drew me to these characters and their lives. That’s Ted Mosby, the guy who makes big, romantic gestures, but realizes love is so very different from that. Here, the Mother comes across as an afterthought, and SHE is the vehicle bringing Ted to Robin.

There are aspects of the finale that I like, whether it’s Neil Patrick Harris’s performance in that moment–however awful and manipulative Barney’s story here is–with Ellie, or the lovely dynamic between Ted and the Mother at the bus stop, or the Mother revealing her name to be Tracy, or the scenes we get where the gang is just hanging out at MacLaren’s. However, that doesn’t make up for the rushed, emotionally manipulative mess we get at the end of it all. I still love this show, but the finale had me feeling cold as the credits rolled, which, by the way, resonated with me more so than anything prior. If anything, the episode should’ve at least left us with warm feelings and smiles for the characters we’ve grown to love over the last 9 years. I don’t think it did.

GRADE: C-

SEASON GRADE: B-

SERIES GRADE: B+

OTHER THOUGHTS:

-When Bays and Thomas pitched How Your Mother Died So That I Could Reconnect With Robin, the network execs thought that was too clunky of a title.

-Of all the characters who get screwed in this finale, the most egregious handling might just be with Barney Stinson. If he and Robin truly have to split up, at least don’t throw all his character development out the window by having him revert to his Playbook ways; also, don’t have his kid be from some random girl. Again, though, Harris is great.

-Tracy McDonnell. Nice. Also, Cristin Milioti. What a casting that was. She’s brilliant.

-The problem with the ending isn’t necessarily the fact that Ted ends up with Robin or that the Mother dies (as much as I dislike both of those); rather, it’s the jarring tonal shifts and the idea that it was “Robin all along”. Just like with Barney, it’s understandable that he might want to connect with someone he’s connected with before, but this isn’t a fairy tale. The show is forcing us to accept a series’ worth of character shifts in the final, what, 10 minutes? There’s no problem with them in idea, but c’mon. Show, don’t tell.

-As for the tonal shifts mentioned above: What the damn hell?! You have a really emotional speech about the Mother dying, then cut to the kids egging Ted on to call Robin. It’s quite a while down the road story-wise, but don’t forget, Bays and Thomas, that this is literally 2 seconds after for us. It’s a tacked on, unnecessary ending, and just like with the rest of the episode, it’s rushed.

-Bays and Thomas’s insistence on keeping their planned final scene proves to be the episode’s undoing. I can understand growing attached to that ending, but they need to have the courage to realize that their own writing has taken the show in a very different direction.

-Hi, Jim Nance.

-So, Bob Saget. You narrated this series.

-This is a pretty bleak ending to a romantic, hopeful show. Also, not much humor in these final two.

-I like the line about Marshall being called “3 different names for ‘vagina'”.

-Well, we spend a full season at Farhampton building up the wedding, and then we don’t get much out of it.

-Spin-off will be How I Met Your Dad, which I’m conflicted about. On the one hand: Greta Gerwig. On the other: I don’t need a spin-off.

-One more time: “Legen–wait for it–DARY!”

-A more appropriate gesture for this episode would be, however: “Major disappointment!” *Salutes*

-Best episode of the season? “How Your Mother Met Me”, for sure, which is one of my favorite episodes of the show and one of my favorite TV episodes in a while. Ultimately, though, this was a season of missed opportunities. Everything they shoved into the finale should’ve been spread out over the course of the season, and we shouldn’t have spent so much time at the location of a wedding that ultimately didn’t really end up anywhere. I can buy Ted getting back together with Robin. I can buy the Mother dying. I can buy so many things, because that’s how life is; however, what I can’t buy is seeing a lifetime of development in 42 minutes of television. How interesting would it have been to see all these storylines (especially Ted and Tracy) over the course of one season? Maybe then, that ending would’ve worked.

-To put it into perspective: Seasons 1-8 lasted 8 years, season 9 covered 3 days, and the finale covered 17 years. Wow.

-Well, that’s all the HIMYM for me. Thanks for reading. It’s been a bumpy ride, but I’ll miss this show. I’ll miss the slaps and the antics and the conversations at MacLaren’s and the romance, and it’s been a pleasure to watch this story unfold. Share your favorite episodes, moments, characters, etc. in the comments below.

Photo credit: CBS, How I Met Your Mother

 

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6 Responses to “How I Met Your Mother “Last Forever, Parts 1 and 2” Review (9×23/9×24)”

  1. Tamara April 1, 2014 at 1:37 am #

    seriously do not think I could be more disappointed than I am right now. There were parts of this episode that were amazing I loved that Barney had a daughter. The way he looked at her and nearly fell to pieces was just beautiful. However, killing the mother?!?!?! Are you serious? It broke my heart. This girl was perfect for Ted in every possible way and you just kill her off. On top of if it, this was a death that should have been dragged out should have been depicted differently to show meaning and Ted grieving but instead it seemed like the whole reason Ted even met the Mother was so he could have kids and then turn around and go back to Robin . It basically cheapens the woman into nothing but a baby making device. She was better than that. On top of that I liked Barney and Robin together I always have, so to have them get a divorce was truly devastating.
    Don’t get me wrong, I love the show, its amazing, funny and relatable but the writers screwed up on this one.

    • polarbears16 April 1, 2014 at 8:01 am #

      Yup, exactly. This finale cheapened these characters into nothing more than vehicles bringing the story from point A to point B. Agreed with the rest of your post, too.

  2. Thom Bartleman April 1, 2014 at 6:31 am #

    Completely agree!!! Thanks for putting into words, exactly what I was thinking. I was apprehensive going in by the fact there seemed to be too much story to tell, with TM, but only one hour to tell it. This end felt mechanical and merely “tacked on”.

    Also, as a long time fan, as much as we love Robin and the blue horn, this end had no emotional connectivity and just seemed to be about clever “problem solving”.

    I would have liked to see a whole season of Ted, being Ted, with TM. That would have felt right, and it would have tied in to the growth of the characters overall.

    • polarbears16 April 1, 2014 at 7:56 am #

      Oh, I would’ve loved that. Josh Radnor and Cristin Milioti have amazing chemistry, so that would work out nicely. And yes, that would’ve tied in to the character growth.

  3. mike April 1, 2014 at 1:19 pm #

    I think I got a different idea and it’s good for me that way.

    The mother was the love of his life, he truly loved her until death tear them apart, Robin in the other side was his backup wife and that’s why he ended up with her.

    Ted really loved Tracy but I personally can relate to this and most awesome things in your life are not forever.

    I’m really proud of the work Craig and Carter did, they showed us that life is not all rainbows and stars and that even if it’s only for 10 years if you find your true love 10 years it’s enough.

    I am really sad because the show ended but I think it was a twisted and great wrap of the series.

    Farewell How I Met Your Mother! I miss you already 😥

    • polarbears16 April 1, 2014 at 3:45 pm #

      Oh, I can buy that; the problem is that we had to accept all of that in a minimal amount of time. That could’ve been the whole final season, rather than spending so much time at the wedding. That way, we could actually see Ted get over the loss of his wife, so that the ending would result in a more progressive fashion (instead of just being thrown in). I’m not sure I like the idea of a “backup wife” or an “always meant to be”, though; rather, I like the idea that they were both at the points in their lives where they felt like they should reconnect.

      Ultimately, yes, I’m proud of the work Bays/Thomas did. This was a special show, but I couldn’t help but feel disappointed by the pacing of the finale. Thanks for commenting!

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