“Sherlock’s in love, but who with?”
“This is it”
“Love conquers all”
“Everyone gives up after three”
“This isn’t a trick it’s a plan”
So, the season 7 DVD was announced yesterday… and it turns out that CN is only counting episodes 1-26 as part of season 7!
I’ve done a little digging, and it looks like, according to CN, season 8 encompasses everything from “Broke His Crown” (it’s listed as episode 1 of season 8 on the CN website) to the end of Islands. Season nine began with “Orb” (it’s listed as episode 1 of season 9 on the CN website) and will end with the series finale! So that makes we’re actually in the heart of season 9!
I’ll need to update my reviews accordingly…
(And if anyone asks, this is my excuse for why I haven’t finished my season 7 review book…)
I fought in a bigger war than you will ever know. I did worse things than you could ever imagine. And when I close my eyes, I hear more screams than anyone could ever be able to count! And do you know what you do with all that pain? Shall I tell you where you put it? You hold it tight till it burns your hand, and you say this: No one else will ever have to live like this! No one else will have to feel this pain! Not on my watch!
Where "How I Met Your Mother" Brought Us, and How "The Last Forever" Brought Us Back
This will not be a review of “The Last Forever,” the 208th and final episode of How I Met Your Mother. This will also not be a review of the ninth and final season of How I Met Your Mother. It’s ended; it’s done, over. But not in the way that it should be.
I’m going to assume you’ve seen the episode by now. Critics have been discussing the season finale for the past two days, and I actually had to take an extra day to gather my thoughts so I could begin writing this final blog post. So let’s start with a story.
A father tells his two teenage children the story of how he came to meet their mother. His tale begins in New York City, and they meet the cast of characters: Marshall, the best friend from college; Lily, the best friend’s girlfriend; Barney, the womanizing other best friend; and then Robin, the girl-who-could-have been. But very soon, the father tells his children straight out: Robin is not the mother, but just another best friend.
Over nine years, these friends go through their own struggles, meeting people, breaking up, getting and losing jobs, getting married, almost getting married, falling in love. Nine years pass, and these friends age and grow in that time.
The last part of this story—“The Last Forever”—was the only thing that did not change over these nine years. Carter Bays ’97 and Craig Thomas ‘97, the creators of HIMYM, planned this episode all the way in 2006, when the show first aired. They shot one final scene with the two children back then and cemented their plan for how the series would arc.
When Barney and Robin marry in “The End of the Aisle” (S9/E22), HIMYM espouses a philosophy that love is imperfect, so it must constantly change, adapt to new situations, be improved on. Over the course of nine wonderful seasons, Barney Stinson goes from one-night stands to one woman for the rest of his life. He finds his absent father, reconciles his lonely childhood, and swears to honesty. In that same time, Lily Aldrin achieves her dream of becoming an art dealer while Marshall Erikson alters his dreams of being an environmental lawyer. Robin Sherbatsky accepts Barney’s companionship, pursues her career, and reconciles with her own parents. And Ted, well.
Ted does not make the most miraculous character arc in HIMYM. That honor goes to Barney. But Ted does become a protagonist worth rooting for. When we first meet him, Ted sees love as something he needs immediately, and even when it seems impossible, he must find “the one” to be happy. It’s unrealistic, as all his friends believe, and it brings him much heartbreak. Only as he realizes the hopelessness of the situation does he become relatable—by season nine, he is at rock bottom, and he realizes he must give up his earthly attachments (New York, Robin, his friends) for some transcendental hope at finding peace in a loveless world.
For eight seasons, The Mother is only an idea. She exists solely to Ted and his children in the future. But the idea of her keeps Ted moving forward and hoping. And when he finally stops hoping, she appears. She doesn’t remain an idea, however: the brilliance—and the shortcoming—of this final season was its endowment of personhood to Tracy McMillan, the mother of Ted’s children. A character in her own right, we see her personal struggle, her losses, and her own hopelessness, until the point where she herself stops hoping—and Ted appears.
For Ted to fall in love with The Mother, and vice-versa, he must have experienced all nine years and more. For anyone to wind up where they were at the beginning of “The Last Forever,” all nine seasons were necessary—it’s less fate than chaos theory. Sensitive dependence on initial conditions. These characters are wheels set into motion.
This is the reason why “The Last Forever” was not only a terrible series finale, but also an insult to every character in the show and every convention of television writing. I know—them’s fighting words. But I feel very strongly about this. “The Last Forever” is a finale based upon a pilot, not a finale based upon nine seasons of a show. It shows no connection to characters who have changed, to events that have come and gone, to lives lived.
“The Last Forever” is a regression in every sense of the word. It dials time back to 2006, when Barney has no feelings for any women he sleeps with; when Marshall has a promising career ahead and Lily is stuck in a creative rut; when Robin is not a part of the group; when Ted believes the new girl in the room is “the one”; when the Mother is a passing thought. “The Last Forever” pretends the last eight seasons never happened.
Perhaps the creators wanted to shock their audience. Perhaps they thought the ending to Friends was too easy: tying up the loose ends that we knew would be tied and closing the door on one period of life to move onto the next. Perhaps they wanted to show “real life.” But HIMYM life and real life are two different things, and the finale did not adhere to the boundaries of the former.
At a Wesleyan University-sponsored viewing party for the episode, around 50 students booed the closing credits. But possibly more telling was that every commercial break began with a gasp at what happened just before. We were all surprised, because the episode had the characters doing what they should never have done.
Now, some things about this episode are wonderful. Had they been the only parts of the finale, it would have been a lovely, fitting end to a wonderful show. When Ted says goodbye to the friends, it’s emotional to the right degree. When Marshall and Lily come to McClaren’s the next day and find Ted still in New York, and he tells them he found a girl, it’s funny. And when Ted finally goes up to the Mother, yellow umbrella, bass guitar, and all, it’s the meeting we have been waiting nine seasons for. Simple, cute, understated, and leading us to where we wanted to go.
As Barney and Robin get divorced, as Marshall and Lily have more children at the expense of Lily’s work, as Robin abandons her friends to travel, as Barney begins picking up random girls and has a child to a woman whose name we don’t even know—did I miss anything?—the season finale felt like it took a wrong turn and looped back into a reality where the characters look nothing like they looked only an episode before. Even beyond the often not-so-vague sexism implied in these “plot twists,” it is so difficult to see the lives of these mature, funny, smart, loving characters be destroyed just for the sake of it.
What the finale does to The Mother, however, is something else entirely. She is gone, taken away, as soon as we meet her. Because, according to the series finale, The Mother never mattered anyway. She and Ted take years to get married, have their children, and then she dies—of what NPR’s Linda Holmes diagnoses as “Unspecified Sad Hospital-Bed-it is.” According to the series finale, she dies so that Ted may live the life he (apparently) has always wanted: with Robin.
In this 60-minute alternate reality, the Mother is a tool, a joke, a red herring. And Robin, despite Ted letting her go so many times, so fully and convincingly to everyone including himself, in the past few episodes, was apparently meant to be his all along. Ted’s kids even edge him on: ask her out, perhaps with a blue horn like in the pilot. In every way, the series comes full circle. But this is not a clever postmodernist conclusion. This is supposed to be “fate,” but if HIMYM taught us anything, fate is merely a series of missed and caught connections, of taken and abandoned chances, of every moment leading up to the moment you cannot see. Ted did not walk the easy road to Robin; he walked the long, treacherous path to meet The Mother, and together, they would have the happy ending they both earned.
Like a relationship gone wrong, it’s unfortunate that “The Last Forever” remained the same while its characters have changed. It did not have to be this way; the elements of a good finale are all there. The conclusion to this series has been building up, seeming more and more inevitable as the characters have taken the steps leading us all to a train platform in Farhampton. To kill the Mother and leave Ted with Robin, however, is to say that none of it mattered. And maybe it didn’t. Maybe that’s real life.
But I refuse to do that. How I Met Your Mother has never been about real life. It’s the most fantastical of sitcoms, and for 207 episodes, it has believed in a world where The Mother is everything and the end. I believe, too, and not even a series finale can change that.
Postscript: A huge thank-you to all the people who made this blog a reality: Wesleyan’s University Communications, who actually came up with this idea and paid me to keep it up; to all my friends who listened to me talk about this show all the time, watched with me, and occasionally contributed; to my older sister, who introduced me to HIMYM in the first place; and, most importantly, to everyone who actually read what I wrote! This blog would still exist without you, but it would be much less fun. Thank you!
It’s the oldest story in the world. One day you’re seventeen and planning for someday. And then quietly and without you ever really noticing, someday is today. And that someday is yesterday. And this is your life.
Nathan Scott, Season 9: Episode 13 (Series Finale)
wow, okay. I just realized how this makes Face the Raven infinitely better. Because when we do see Clara die, it hasn’t been a mistake, like it originally was. It will be after she has had her adventures and has accepted death on her own terms. And she now has made the choice to die for who she loves, because she wouldn’t let the Doctor change it.
Also, I am not sure if it was intentionally done, but the moment he saves Clara from the raven reminds me of when Ten saved the family from The Fires of Pompeii. The imagery is similar (the “come with me” moment.). Just another reminder of why he chose that face– so he will be willing to save people even when he’s not supposed to. Even when it’s a “fixed point in time.”
Donna once had to beg the Doctor to save just one person from a fixed point in time. Now Clara had to beg the Doctor to let her go after he spent billions of years trying to save a single person from a fixed point in time. I will never, ever grow tired of how multi-faceted this show is. The Doctor had to learn to break the rules, and now, he had to learn how to let go of something so dear.
Hello Whovians! Tomorrow is the season finale of Doctor Who and we’re here to tell you all a thing.
Tomorrow, 05 December, 2015, starting at 8:00pm GMT // 3:00pm EST // noon PST, we will be liveblogging the UK premiere of Doctor Who Series 9 - Hell Bent.
The liveblog will be as non-spoilery as we can make it, but there will still be quite a few spoilers on our Tumblr at that time, so here’s how you can avoid seeing anything you may not want to see.
Of course, Clara!
Number one: we’d recommend unfollowing us. We won’t be offended, we promise! This is the only way we can ensure that you don’t see a single spoiler come from us during that time period. If you’d like to watch our liveblog of the US East Coast premiere of Hell Bent, then we’ll be doing that as well at 9pm EST, but until then, it may be best to unfollow us.
If that’s not an option, we recommend installing tumblr savior or xkit. With these installed, you can set it up so that any posts tagged with a word you don’t want to see, such as ‘DW Spoilers’ or ‘Doctor Who’, won’t show up on your dash. Instead, you’ll see a little box that looks like this.
The third option to avoid spoilery spoilers is to stay away from Tumblr between the hours of 8pm GMT // 3pm EST // noon PST and 9:05pm GMT // 4:05pm EST // 1:05pm PST. We know this may be a challenge but if you don’t look at your dash, don’t even peek at it during that time (and avoid checking tags as well!) you should be able to remain unspoiled until the episode premieres in your time zone.
The sonic sunglasses also double as spoiler-blocking sunglasses if you have them on setting 4482
If avoiding spoilers isn’t a concern of yours or if you’ll be joining us for our UK liveblog tomorrow, we’ll see you at 8pm GMT for the premiere of the season 9 finale - Hell Bent.
Ok but seriously however dissatisfying it was let’s respect David Henrie and Lyndsey Fonseca for keeping that ending under wraps for so long despite their total lack of involvement with the show after the first season