WHAT ABOUT THE DAMNED PINEAPPLE!?!
This is my first attempt at writing a review on this blog. I’ve written reviews in the past but I’ve gotten out of the habit of doing them. I think I’ll be doing a few more here and what a way to start with the extremely divisive series finale to How I Met Your Mother, “Last Forever.” I did reviews of Lost the last few seasons and never reviewed the finale. I guess this can be my answer to that. My next review, barring some unforeseen circumstance, will be for Friday’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Really looking forward to that one!
I’d do a recap but there are plenty out there. I don’t feel the need. You are all capable adults who can go to Wiki and look it up yourself. I will give you a link though: (Wikipedia)
Let me get the negative things out of the way first. It was too short. They crammed seventeen years into the finale and really, this should have probably been 90 minutes. I hope (and wouldn’t be surprised to see) that the DVD has an extended cut. I thought we were shortchanged on the time in the 2020s. We didn’t get any idea of what Tracy was sick from and there is more to the story of Robin and Ted that is missing. There was a promo picture of Ted and Robin that was never seen in the episode.
It seems to me here that this is either immediately following Tracy’s death or early on after they find out she’s sick. Looking at the setup, how Robin looks as though she’s sorry and Ted looks as though he’s angry, it seems like an important, dramatic bit and just goes to show you how this was far too short.
It was also painfully obvious within the teaser of the episode, focusing again on Robin and Lily’s very foreboding line that Ted or Barney would need to marry her that this was where it was going. But, it was nice to see the gang back in their season one personas, looks and garb.
Let me say: I don’t love that Ted and Robin ended up together. I like it and I’m okay with it because this is what life is. If you go back and watch this last season in particular, this is what the show was about. They were setting you up for it. Why did Ted get the locket? Why did Robin have doubts? Why did Ted give the locket to Barney and try to move on? The sad fact is marriage doesn’t always work. And it made sense that Barney would revert to his old ways, even to a new extreme. You tend to overcompensate when something like that happens. Did they need to spend a whole season on the wedding? No. That was a problem. Did they rush through the ending without having earned it? Maybe. Would it have been better if they spent an episode on the wedding and the entire season going over the seventeen years leading up to this moment? Absolutely yes.
I’m going to nitpick the transition from Bob Saget to Josh Radnor for the narration. After nine years of hearing Saget talking to the kids and then suddenly not hearing him at all? Yeah, there was absolutely no way to make that not jarring. The interplay between the kids (shot back in 2006) and Ted (shot in 2014) was a little disjointed as well. I think they did as well as they could and it would have been cheap had we not heard from Penny and Luke again. Mixed bag on that one.
I did enjoy that Barney became a dad and that it truly changed him. His scene with baby Ellie was adorable and it was great to see the change in Barney to be a tired daddy. I enjoyed seeing the gang grow older and apart but come back together. I really liked that we didn’t see Marshall’s horrendous future comb over. I loved the references to licking the liberty bell, “Major Pleasure,” Barney’s Blog, er business, the cover of “Downtown Train”, “Daddy’s home,” and Robots vs. Wrestlers. And the high infinity was amazing. Also, nice going full circle with the Ghostbusters quote. (OH! And the cockamouse! Damn cable cut out last night for a few seconds there and I missed that until my rewatch this morning.)
And I liked that it was true to life.
Ultimately, there are two morals to the story. The first is: It’s okay to move on. Ted did that with Robin with the wedding and meeting Tracy. And he loved her. He loved her deeply for eleven years. They had two kids together and eventually got married. She got sick. She died. It’s sad. It’s real. It’s not the happy ending everyone wanted. He still loves Tracy at the end. But deep down he wanted to move on. Penny and Luke knew this. They wanted him to move on. Look back at the scene from “Vesuvius” a few weeks ago. Tracy wanted him to move on too.
TED: I’ve told you this one before.
TRACY: A few times.
TED: Oh. I’m just a boring old man who won’t stop spinning yarns.
TRACY: Hey, I love your yarns. I hope you never stop spinning them.
TRACY: You’re the love of my life, Pooh Bear. I just worry about you. I don’t want you to be the guy who lives in his stories. Life only moves forward.
One can make the argument (and I wouldn’t necessarily argue with them) that going to Robin wasn’t moving forward. But it is the trajectory the show has always been moving in. It was the story the creators wanted to tell, maybe not from the very beginning, but at least from season two (when they shot the final scene with the kids) on. A lot of the complaints I’ve read say that Ted going back to Robin cheapens Tracy’s death — that he was just biding time until he could be with Robin. That he settled. I totally disagree with that. Look at Ted’s face on the phone in the scene early on in MacLaren’s. That’s love. Not settling. I think overall they could have done a better job showing that. But, just because we didn’t see they had a happy life together doesn’t mean that they didn’t. A scene after Tracy’s death showing him mourning may have played into that a bit, but that goes back again to my desire for an extended cut of the finale.
Edited to add: One other point I want to make about this is another reference to another episode, season eight’s “The Time Travelers.” If the 45 days speech below doesn’t prove to you that he loved her and that he would always love her then really, I don’t want to know you.
The second moral, and deep down, I think this is the one that people have problems with: Life is not a fairy tale. Life is real. Life is hard. If it were a fairy tale, well, then I’d be married, have kids and be a very successful TV writer. I never watched How I Met Your Mother for the love story aspect. I watched it for two reasons: the first was the characters. These characters were great. I enjoyed spending time with them on Monday nights for the past nine seasons. These were people I wanted to know. I would have loved to get a beer with Ted, Marshall and Lily and would think it would be so much fun to have Barney as my wingman. But more than that, it’s because this show was relatable. I’ve never been left at the altar, but boy do I know what heartache is like. I’ve lost my job and I know how hard that is. I’ve lost friends and loved ones. The show resonated with me on so many levels. It also gives me hope that even though life may be bumpy, things will get better.
Overall, I enjoyed “Last Forever.” It wasn’t the M*A*S*H or Scrubs finale (the first finale, not Med School… *shudders*). Those are perfect endings. How I Met Your Mother never sugar coated things. It never shyed away from the hard stuff. The finale wasn’t any different. I don’t love it, but I respect it. And I respect the choice to end the series the way that Carter Bays and Craig Thomas wanted to.
It was always the way they were going with this series. They never faltered. They never gave in. And that was obvious. You may not like the ending. I’m not trying to sway anyone here. But you have to respect the creators for telling it their way.
I thought it was ambitious and true to life. However, if you look at the show, it has always been leading to this moment. Just like Penny said, it was never about Ted meeting Tracy (GOD, it’s so nice not having to say “the daughter” or “the mother” any longer), it was about Robin. While I always hoped that they weren’t going to go this route – that Tracy & Ted and Barney & Robin would end up living happily ever after, that’s not what life is all about. Life is about living the moments you have and savoring them with the people you love.
If you take one lesson away from How I Met Your Mother, it should be: Whatever you do in life, it’s not legendary unless your friends are there to see it because life is too short to not do awesome air kicks.