Tuesday, April 1, 2014

HIMYM Review: Season 9 Episodes 23 and 24: Last Forever, Parts 1 and 2

I don't even know where to begin. Starting this review is so intimidating to me because I still feel so overwhelmed by everything that happened in these two episodes. It certainly wasn't what I was expecting, and my feelings are overwhelmingly negative. I have seen a couple of positive views at this point, but it seems like a good deal of people agree with me. Before you just think I'm bitter about not getting my way though, I need to explain some things.

It seems like everytime something ends there's that group of people who are extremely vocal about hating it. I've never been one of those people. In fact, I almost always love how creators choose to end their stories. I've even written two posts on it. I've never reached the end of something and been completely and utterly unsatisfied with it. How I Met Your Mother broke that trend last night. And it wasn't just because of bitterness over things not going how I wanted them to. I'm really good at accepting things that don't happen the way I want. I can get over it as long as I can see the story that the creator(s) was/were telling and can see that it made logical sense and was well done. I can't see that with HIMYM.

That finale was one of the worst things I've ever had to watch. The first episode wasn't too bad. I wasn't thrilled about it, but I thought things would look up in the last episode. Then the last episode came on and was even worse.

The problem wasn't that things were sad instead of being overly cheerful and happy. I can accept it if the writers wanted to go from a more realistic approach to getting older and starting families, but whatever they did in those episodes last night completely undermined every single bit of character development we've gotten in the past nine seasons.

I'll start with Lily and Marshall because they were probably the least focused on in the finale, which will make them easiest. We found out that they have a third child and eventually move out of the apartment, which I thought was fitting since it was the end of the series. I can accept everything that happened with them, and my only regret is we didn't see more of them in the finale. They were basically there for their friends' stories, and their lives remained the same other than one more kid and pretty much losing their friends. I'm both thankful and upset by that.

From here I really don't know where to go on because all of the rest of my thoughts are one jumbled mess, and I don't know where to jump in. I'm just going to do my best to straighten all of this out and make it coherent.

Barney and Robin get a divorce three years after they were married. That was the first bit to really make me angry. Look, I know I wanted Barney and Robin together, and anything I say about this could be taken as me being bitter they didn't stay happily married forever. I assure you it isn't. My initial anger was about that, but the more I've had time to think about it the more I realize how terrible it was from a storytelling perspective. This entire season was the time leading up to Robin and Barney's wedding. It was built up and the big episode right before the finale. You can't have a wedding like that and then divorce them in the next episode. From a storytelling perspective that's just crappy.

We were given more than a season to adjust to the idea of Robin and Barney being married. In ten minutes that was completely taken away. We didn't get to see their marriage souring; we were just told it did and that they divorced. That seems just cruel after building up their marriage and making it such a big deal. If the show had more time to go on and develop their marriage and then show it going bad, then okay. They could have done that. But the fact of the matter is that they didn't have that time and they just threw the divorce at us unprecedented, and that's what makes it such horrible storytelling.

The theory about the mom dying was true. I was somewhat expecting that at this point, so I wasn't shocked so much as just disappointed. The fact of the matter is, I could have dealt with her death if it weren't for everything else surrounding it. First of all, Ted has been trying to entire nine seasons to find the woman he wants to marry, and then when his fiancee gets pregnant they proceed to wait five years before getting married? I shouldn't have to point out that it's out of character for Ted. I know that the series was all about him growing, but if he was having a kid with a woman who he absolutely loved and had planned on marrying anyway, it wouldn't have taken him five years. It just wouldn't have. Besides, any of this character development that could have plausibly led to him being okay with delaying the wedding would have been thrown out again when he went chasing after Robin at the end.

Then the biggest kicker and what completely pushed it over the edge for me was the ending. I know a lot of fans wanted Robin and Ted together, but even if you did, I don't understand how you can be satisfied with that ending. This entire show was built up to be Ted meeting the mother of his children. Then she dies and he gets together with Robin. I know that all of this stuff actually took place over a span on years, but it completely undermined the point of the show to me. Her death would have been one thing, but they effectively made the entire show be about Ted getting together with Robin when the mother has been built up the entire time. Basically, the mother was used as a plot device to give Ted children (which Robin could have never done therefore making their relationship unrealistic before Ted had children) and then hand him over to Robin once she died. They didn't kill off the mother for any reason other than the fact that they needed Ted to be free to go chasing after Robin at the end of the series.

This is made even worse by the fact that so much of the recent seasons have been about Ted getting over Robin which have now completely been thrown out as well. To me it undermines every single bit of the last several seasons. If that had been the ending a few seasons in I might have possibly been able to accept it, but not now. Robin and Ted were too far past for that ending to be thrown at us and be acceptable. Not when everyone had already moved on, and not when the creators had to throw away two relationships (Ted and Tracy & Robin and Barney) that had been built up in just the last hour of the show.

And can we talk about how Robin specifically said that she never wanted kids? Yes, she struggled finding out she never could have them, but that was only because she knew the option was out no matter what she wanted. She came to the conclusion that she had never wanted children and still didn't. Now she's supposedly going to be with Ted and by step-mother to two children which is something she never wanted? No, no, no. That's incredibly out of character for Robin, even if the kids are older. It just doesn't make sense for her character.

So, I hope that mess of thoughts makes sense. What it boils down to for me is that many of the characters were completely ruined in the finale, and none of them acted in character. Plus, it was a storytelling nightmare that might have been acceptable if the show had ended sooner, but the fact is it didn't. None of it made logical sense, and it was just all around the most disappointing television I've ever watched. I really wish I had never watched the finale in the first place, and that I could just pretend like episode 22 was the real ending of the series. It would have been more fitting than what I had to sit through last night.

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