How I Met Your Mother Finale Recap

HIMYMI don’t get home from work until sometime after midnight. That means last night I had to do my best to avoid social media and texts revealing anything about the How I Met Your Mother finale. I watched the pilot of HIMYM live in 2005, and from then on have never been a day or two behind on watching an episode, so I wasn’t going to have the ending spoiled by some selfish viewer who thinks that their tweet is more important than someone’s individual viewing experience. For example, this is why I don’t follow Stuart Scott on Twitter anymore.

Anyway, a friend called me a few minutes before I was about to sit down, eat my popcorn chicken and watch the last episode of HIMYM ever. He asked if I had any predictions or expectations for the episode. I answered that there were three specific things that I did NOT want to happen:

1) I didn’t want to find out about the pineapple. Some things are better left a mystery.

2) I didn’t want the mother to die. Even though previous episodes have hinted that the mother might die, I was pulling for some lame explanation. Maybe she would get sick but not die. Something. Anything.

3) If the mother did die, I didn’t want to Ted to end up with Robin.

Sigh. Well, at least we didn’t find out about the pineapple?

The series finale, “Last Forever”, starts at the end of Barney’s and Robin’s wedding (finally). Ted plans on leaving for Chicago, and he says an emotional goodbye to all of the group members. Although we know that Ted isn’t actually going to leave for Chicago, this was actually one of the stronger parts of the finale. We, the audience, are saying goodbye to these characters so it only seems fitting that they get to say goodbye, too.

The rest of the episode jumps around in time. From the present, where Ted is sitting in the pouring rain at the Farhampton train station, to glimpses of life down the road. It’s not long before it becomes completely obvious that the episode is headed toward the the Ted-and-Robin-end-up-together route. A few flashforwards in, after Ted and the mother discover that they are going to have a baby together, Robin and Barney announce that they are getting divorced, which begs the question…


To the writers’ credit, much of the time at the wedding, Barney and Robin were fighting. At the time it seemed silly because we had seen flashforwards of them together, but now it seems like it was just a method of creating evidence as to why their marriage would ultimately fail. Sigh.

The divorce has sort of a ripple effect on the group. Robin no longer feels comfortable hanging out with everyone because the group includes her ex-husband and the ‘guy she probably should have married’. She essentially leaves the group and nobody ever sees her. Marshall and Lily and Ted and the mother spend their time doing family things. Barney goes back to being the female-hunter that he had been most of the series and eventually impregnates one of his companions.

Although I dislike absolutely despise the decision to have Barney and Robin get divorced, the moment where Barney meets his child for the first time was very well executed. Barney has told countless lies over the course of HIMYM, but telling his baby that he loved her and was going to forever certainly wasn’t one of them. If they weren’t going to give him the happy ending that the entire season had been indicating, this was a nice consolation prize.

Time continues to pass. Marshall climbs the career ladder and Ted, after several years, finally marries the mother. Then we flash back to present time and get one of the best scenes in HIMYM history. A scene that the show absolutely needed to stick the landing on and did. The scene where Ted finally meets the mother.

It’s a the moment that show has been building toward since the pilot and it couldn’t have been more perfect. It’s a little bit awkward and heartwarming and just the right amount of funny. It’s a scene that might make you believe in fate, for just a second, even if you actually don’t. Along with Ted, we had been waiting for this scene for nearly a decade, and it didn’t let us down.

But it doesn’t carry the weight of the punch to the credits because just a few minutes later (in the episode), we learn that the mother dies. And how this was just sort of a ‘yada-yada’ moment in the show was really bothersome.The mother, Tracy, was who the show had always been building toward. Who Ted had always been searching for. And the only explanation of her death that we get is a still photo with Bob Saget saying “and then your mother got sick”? Really? We got full episodes on smoking cigarettes and Robin and Barney eating so much they actually change in size, but the death of The Mother is a passing by moment? That’s a massive injustice. The entire episode Lily preached about being there for the big moments, it’s a shame we weren’t there for one of the biggest in Ted’s life.

Tracy was a fantastic addition to the show, the breath of fresh of air that the series desperately needed. The chemistry between Cristin Milioti and Josh Radnor is some of the best you’ll see anywhere. The show absolutely needed to nail the casting of Tracy and they did. That this girl was THE ONE that Ted had been hoping to find that whole time was more than believable. She’s the one that Ted should have been spending his life with, but instead…

We find out it was all done so that Ted could end up with Robin in 2030. There was a time when I would have rooted for this to happen and I’m sure most fans can say the same thing. But that was along time ago. But the characters and situations have changed so much since then. Anything dealing with Ted and Robin over the past five or six seasons felt tiresome and redundant. Most importantly, it sort of lost it’s spark.

Some of you will argue that this was done as ‘well, that’s life’ or ‘life isn’t perfect’ type of theme. That’s not what this was. As Alan Sepinwall points out in his review of the finale, the decision to kill off the mother was done just so Ted could end up with Robin, and it was something decided six or seven years ago. This isn’t a life lesson about how everyone goes through tough times. This was the creators giving what they thought was the ‘happy ending’ the show, characters and fans deserved.

Too bad it wasn’t the right one.