How I Met Your Mother 'Last Forever' Review: And that, kids...

By Andrew Meola | Mar 31, 2014 10:25 PM EDT
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Right now, you're feeling one of two ways. You're either completely content and satisfied with the way How I Met Your Mother wrapped up its nine-season run with the finale, "Last Forever." Or, you just gave Carter Bays, Craig Thomas and this final episode Lily's "You're Dead to Me" look.

If you're feeling the latter, then I completely understand. I leaned that way at first. I couldn't believe that they actually killed the Mother...sorry...Tracy McConnell. But I let it sit for a bit, and then I felt something profoundly beautiful come out of this last hour of How I Met Your Mother.

This entire episode felt like an extended epilogue. If the last episode, "The End of the Aisle," was the conclusion of the season-long wedding weekend, then "Last Forever" was the coda to the gang's adventures together for the past nine seasons. The finale jumped through time like few episodes before it as it took us through the major moments in everyone's lives after Barney and Robin's wedding.

I really appreciated the way the finale portrayed how the six main characters drifted apart over the course of their lives. HIMYM has always been a show about truths and the realities in life (even it was a romantic show at heart), and one of them is that no matter how hard you try, sometimes friends just drift apart. You get married. You have kids. You move away. It just happens, and it happened to a group as tight knit as the one we have followed for the past nine seasons.

If I have a complaint about this episode, it's that the revelations came so quickly that each one landed more like a jab then a gut punch. Barney and Robin's divorce, Barney's transition to fatherhood (which was BEAUTIFULLY done by Neil Patrick Harris in that scene), Ted and Tracy's wedding, Tracy's sickness and eventual passing and the final relationship between Ted and Robin could have filled up entire episodes on their own. These moments couldn't help but remind me of some of the wasted time we spent throughout this final season.

But again, these last two episodes drove home the point that life is just a collection of moments, of things that pass us by as quickly as they arrive, of things that just happen. Each of these developments was just a stone on the path of these people's lives, and we were fortunate enough to walk that path with them.

Now, onto what will surely be the most controversial and discussed aspect of the episode. Ted met Tracy, and they fell in love. They had two children and got married after seven years. They had a wonderful 10 or so years together, but she became ill and passed away. Yes, they actually killed The Mother.

But what has really angered some viewers is that they felt the writers used The Mother as just a steppingstone for Ted to get to Robin in the end. Or worse, that she was a roadblock in his path.  I couldn't help but check Twitter for some instant reactions after the episode, and I saw widespread disappointment and anger. But my friends, if you feel that way, then I daresay you missed the point.

There is no doubt whatsoever that Ted met the love of his life when he met Tracy. Lily noticed it immediately. Ted had been in love before, but never like this. And through her, the Ted Mosby we've come to know and love finally got his hard-earned reward. He met his dream girl and they had a wonderful family together. And, tragically, their time together was brief.

Ted's voiceover about Tracy was perhaps the most poignant one he has ever delivered on this show, and that's saying something. He had to love Tracy with everything he had for every moment they had, because even love is impermanent. Ted's devotion to his wife could not stop what happened to her, but her mortality only made that love more precious and more valuable. And then, sadly, she was gone.

But think back to what Tracy told him a few episodes ago when we first realized that the show might go through with killing her: Don't live in your stories. Life goes forward, not backward. Live. Be happy. Take every moment you have and make it worthwhile, or there's no point in doing anything at all.

That's where Robin enters the picture. I'll even disagree with Ted's children that his entire story was about her. It wasn't. It was about Ted Mosby. It was about Robin Scherbatsky. And Lily Aldrin, and Marshall Eriksen, and Barney Stinson, and Tracy McConnell, and Penny and Luke. And each of the characters we met along the way. It was, quite simply, about the adventure each of us takes from the day we arrive on this earth until the day we leave it.

Ted taught his kids, and himself, a valuable lesson. No one moment, place or person defines our individual lives. Ted had the love of his life, the mother of his children, for too brief a time. But he also had a dear friend and a former love who was there for him through everything. And so he took his love's advice: Move forward, not backward.

I've made no secret of the fact that I was never a fan of the Ted and Robin relationship, but now I must qualify that statement. I was not a fan of the Ted and Robin relationship in their late 20s and 30s. The Ted that stood outside Robin's apartment with the blue French horn in 2030 was a completely different man, and Robin was a different woman.

Back in Season 2, they were incompatible. She wanted to travel. He wanted a family. Fast forward 25 years, and they had both gotten exactly what they wanted out of life. All that was left was each other. They both loved. They both lost. And in the end, they took each other's hands and decided that they'd go through the rest of life together, because that's what we do. We make connections, and we fight with everything we have to keep them. We keep moving forward with the memories of our loved ones to keep us hopeful, to remind us that every moment is brief, but every moment makes us who we are.

And that, kids, is How I Met Your Mother.

Notes and Quotes:

-       As expected, the callbacks in this episode were too numerous to mention. Any fan of HIMYM could probably spot at least a dozen.

-       Josh Radnor can take comfort in the fact that he will define the word "distinguished" as he ages, if this episode's costume and makeup are any indication.

-       The sequence with Ted and his kids was so clearly edited together, but it didn't really matter. It also showed that Carter Bays and Craig Thomas weren't lying when they said they had the ending in mind a looooooooong time ago.

There's plenty to talk about, and I'm sure I'll update this with more of my own thoughts, but please offer your thoughts on the series finale in the comments below. 

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