There is also the question of whether this episode ruins the integrity and ideals of the entire series. It’s always been a show that can value these gimmicky episodes and joke callbacks over its characters, but this feels too cheap. It makes much of the series feel cheap, too — especially this season, which took place entirely during the wedding weekend of a couple that later gets divorced with a shrug, and introduced Ted to The Mother that would soon die. I’m sure I’ll still like those earlier seasons (and I’m probably always going to be iffy on those later seasons), but it’s going to feel much different. I can understand those who want to write everything off.
It’s a frustrating thing to see good work come undone; it’s how I felt the first time I watched the Roseanne finale. I had no desire to go back and rewatch Roseanne like I did with, say, 30 Rock, a sitcom that had a nearly flawless finale. I revisited that final season recently and was struck by the emotional depth and how affected I still was during those last three episodes. I doubt I’ll ever view How I Met Your Mother in the same regard. It’ll be hard to, knowing how much character work is unraveled and knowing that it ultimately leads to this mess.
But at the end of the day, how upset can I really get about this? Series finales are hard to nail down and it’s impossible to please everyone. I always get stuck in this conflicted state about how much a show owes me. Last night, many people made comparisons to the disappointment of Lost — myself included, albeit jokingly — and I don’t want to keep comparing How I Met Your Mother to other finales because it isn’t fair, but: Lost fans always felt like they were owed something more than the “They were dead, but not really, but yeah, they were” ending that we got. (Though I should admit that the Lost finale grew on me.) Here, even though I stopped caring too much about HIMYM, I feel like I’m owed a hell a lot of more than something as contrived as, “Ted and Robin get together, and then they don’t, but then they do.”
Yet this sitcom does not owe me anything — it has given me plenty of laughs over the years and, more importantly, gave me a way to kill time with binge-watching during those post-collegiate unemployed years — but I formed such an attachment to these characters and stories that I want the ending that I want. It’s a selfish and childish reaction, but I can’t help it. And selfishness aside? It just wasn’t a good ending. It was a slap in the face, not a high five, and the show deserved much better.