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Apr 1, 2014

It's Just A TV Show

First of all ***SPOILERS*** in case you have this on DVR and have yet to watch it, but here are my thoughts on How I Met Your Mother.
It's just a TV show and not really important to our lives, but sometimes a story connects with us. I believe that's what this show did for many people, as part of our human condition is longing for that relationship that trumps everything else. Ted spent a nine-TV-years search for the "one true love." I think because of that, I was initially disappointed in the finale.
However, when something continues to chew on your brain -- a mental thought, not a zombie or anything -- that's when you know it has been well-written. The clues were there all along. Perhaps secretly we all knew the ending. Certainly the rumors that the mother was dead and Ted was explaining to his kids how he met her had been circulating the Internet for years. Further, the twist that he was explaining this is why he was going to move on with his life with his other love, Robin, had been presented several times. However, I suppose part of me hoped for an even-better, more-surprising ending. The romantic in me wanted his one-true love to be one, not two. Plus, in all fairness, I believe the last 15 years of Ted's life played out too fast in only one hour for me to really process and appreciate it. At the very least, I would have liked to see Tracy "on the porch" in the future -- even if it wasn't when they were eighty.
All that said, I'd like to tie-up a few things that finally came together after I slept on it. Perhaps I'm slow and everyone else already got this. Perhaps some didn't care enough about these details. Nonetheless, I have a new respect for Carter Bays and Craig Thomas, if for no other reason than it is obvious this is how they intended to end the story all along and had the guts to keep with the plan.
Before continuing, I want to point one key detail most of us forgot. In the "Front Porch" episode, when they're all eighty and reminiscing, Ted asks Robin to be his "plus one" -- to be his "back-up wife" in case things never work out for either of them. From a storyline view, that's an interesting thought to consider.
Along with the opening scene in the finale, where Lily explains the conditions for being with Robin, there are so many clear signs that Ted will eventually marry her. At the end of the hour-long show, I smacked myself for not catching the foreshadowing in Lily's 2005 demand. However, despite clue-dropping all through out the series, it is the last two seasons' explanations that have become obvious in hindsight.
In the very peculiar Time-Travelers episode, it ends with "future Ted" giving a soliloquy to Tracy, introducing himself, declaring his love for her and making the then-cryptic statement of how he would give anything spend more time with her. Obviously, the "future Ted" knows Tracy will die, knows how much he will love her and knows how much he will miss her. It was just cryptic enough that one could not draw that conclusion with certainty at the time of the episode's airing. However, it is important to note that this episode also sent the message to Ted to quit living in the past.
When "Time Travelers" is combined with the episode named "Vesuvius" the clues should have been confirmed. Forget that Vesuvius represents sudden and unexpected death, although that is clearly symbolism. This oddly named episode is the one where the backstory setting is Ted and Tracy having dinner at Farhampton Inn during a 2024 snowstorm and telling stories from the past. During the future portion, Ted tells Tracy that there are some moments too intense and sometimes moments should just be enjoyed while one still has them. Tracy expresses concern that Ted lives too much in the past and asks him to live life moving forward instead. Finally, in this episode, Tracy tries to comfort Ted about his story involving Robin's mother by asking him, "What mother is going to miss her daughter's wedding?" This question bring tears to Ted's eyes. And now we know why.
All in all, I have run back and forth on how I feel about this ending. I felt Ted going back to Robin after Tracy's death "cheapened" Ted's love for Tracy. But I believe this is because the ten years of their love story did not really get developed in only one season. Further, thirty seconds of screen dialog with Penny and Luke did not allow me to appreciate that Ted had been grieving the loss for six years. I think the last episode may also have painted Robin a bit too cold during the Tracy-Ted years for the kids to have liked Robin as much as they expressed. But upon reflection, I don't blame the story or the writers, but rather the medium of television and how such story-telling works.
It's just a TV show after all, but still it was good writing too. And that is something rare for the medium. How I Met Your Mother was fun, thought-provoking, ethical, sentimental and heart-warming. It connected with many of us on a very honestly "human" level. I will miss the show.
Finally, now that I've wrapped my brain around it, I'm not only okay with the ending, but perhaps I'm even a little glad about it. Not because Ted finally gets to be with Robin, but rather because Tracy loved Ted so much that she gave her blessing to him to move on. Whether that would have been with Robin (obviously convenient for the show) or anyone else, Tracy's love for Ted and that life goes on are the real messages of the finale. My disappointment with the finale is not the ending, but rather that the script didn't reflect those messages a little clearer. Pehaps Tracy could have had some final words to Ted, perhaps at the hospital and then she could have sung La Vie en rose one last time.
But it's just a TV show...and life goes on!

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