Contrary to the majority, I liked the ending. I know on the surface that it wasn’t the ending people wanted, but please do not forget that this is Ted’s story to tell. I think it was said before that he was an unreliable narrator, and maybe from a writers’ POV it sucked because it’ll bring about the whole “who do we believe?” shenanigan. Maybe the writers (especially Craig Thomas and Carter Bays) had their little rumors here and there, but ultimately, what we have to base everything on is the central character himself.
I’m going to write down my thoughts/analyses separated into bullet points for better understanding, with a paragraph or two under it. It may not be what I think it means, but I’ll refer to episodes here and there. This is more of trying to settle with the ending because there are so many things that are overlooked when you think about it.
I. Barney/Robin’s divorce (+ notes on Ellie)
It was the first of many surprising twists to find that after the whole ninth season set during their wedding, that they decided to divorce three years into their married life. I was caught off guard myself mainly because we were led to believe that they were the endgame, and this status has since then been erased (much to my very subtle delight). But if you really look at their relationship, this affected not only the happiness of the majority of HIMYM fans, but also on Barney Stinson as a character.
In the finale, Robin and Barney are three years into their marriage. Robin is jetsetting around the world as she is on assignment, and Barney tags along as his means of support for his wife. A row over the issue of wi-fi ensues, and they start to fight, with Robin finally asking, “If I gave you an out, would you take it?” But before they finally go through this decision, Barney suggests getting drunk and having sex first.
- You can always view this as a trademark B/R go-to, but this only parallels the immaturity of their relationship to that of when they first admitted this solution in The Rough Patch (5.06), wherein they admitted that they go with this solution to avoid fighting. If this was projected already, this means that they have a lot of problems beneath the surface that they are both hiding, which leads me to my next point…
- Barney Stinson’s character development is one of the most significant, even first to Ted, because of his decisions to get out of his eternal bachelor phase by finding his real father (6.19) and finally committing to Robin (8.11-8.12). He also burns his playbook, which served as the backbone of his player personality. That’s why I was surprised when after he and Robin divorced, he jumped right back into his bachelor phase again, as if finding love with Robin proved insignificant. All seemed lost with his development until Baby Ellie comes along to salvage him.
- Ellie: was the baby that came from one of Barney’s post-Robin one-night stands.
– On the day of Barney’s child’s birth, he and his other friends (sans Robin) were gathered in the hospital to await the news. The nurse comes in, and even before she finishes, Barney jumps in and yells, “MAYBE IT’S NOT MY KID! HAPPY NOT A FATHER’S DAY!” But to his surprise, the nurse replies with, “It’s a girl.” What does this mean?
– Barney is a very multi-dimensional character, mainly because he adjusts well to many social situations (hence his adaptability is his advantage to score many girls and convince them into believing that he’s this and he’s that). But the root of his problem is commitment, in many different terms: commitment to a woman, commitment to certain phrases (The Dream supposedly equates to one dream, but becomes several), etc. This is due to the fact that Barney was always led to believe that he never has to pay for his mistakes, especially with his one-night stands. He takes extra care into leaving no traces of him behind, which makes him fleet from one girl to another, because unlike Ted, he carries no baggage until Ellie.
– The B/R divorce was of course heartbreaking to many, but it also showed Barney’s maturity on his part to come clean and tell the truth (as his only vow when they both got married), a commitment to his wedding vow. He knew that all the sex and the booze in the world could not stuff all the problems they had down somewhere, and sooner or later, he knew that he had to speak up before the list got longer.
– Ellie was not only a contributor to Barney’s maturity, but was the starting point of Barney’s maturity. Even if Robin did contribute to Barney’s commitment to a woman (and he really did love her), she also helped him own up to what he really thought of the both of them, that the both of them were too banged up to end up together in the long run. They could not fix each other, even if they liked to, hence the quickness of Barney to revert back to becoming a player. Ellie, on the other hand, was the biggest fear that Barney had at the back of his mind, that someday he would have to pay for his mistakes. Also, Ellie was the confirmation of Barney’s biggest fear, even more than marriage: of becoming a dad. This is due to his absent father and his mother Loretta raising him and his brother James. His biggest insecurity is becoming like his father, who left him. And upon finally confronting that baby, he finally realized that maybe this was the love he was looking for, not in a woman, but in a child–a being that Robin can never give. The biggest decision in that episode for Barney was to become the difference, unlike his father, and take care of the “mistake” he made instead of running away from it.
– A friend brought up the cycle of single parenthood for the Stinson clan, but what I could say is maybe he will find the right woman in the future. He is currently fixing himself to commit first to learning from his mistakes, just like a child, because internally, he is still a child and much has to be learned before he can commit to a woman. He’s getting there, though.
II. The Mother and her “not-so-featuredness”
Kids, this is the story of How I Met Your Mother. The biggest complaint of the finale is how the Mother was less than featured, and then boom comes her untimely end all in forty minutes. From a viewer’s POV, it really did suck. I mean, how could you give us this title and kill her off in the end? She was awesome. She was great. Why did you let Ted’s fate end this way?
- “But the writers said that the Mother won’t die, etc etc” Again, we have to separate the writers from the characters. We could call what the writers/producers/actors have said as “rumors,” but what you have to realize is things don’t end the way they are planned. We all thought Barney and Robin were endgame, that the Mother would live, and Ted was moving to Chicago but they all went the opposite direction. This is where the writers were trying to display “the game of Life” even if they planned it all to end the way we wanted to (or didn’t want to), that even if Plan A was the one we all believed in, Plan B could still be set into motion. That’s how life is, and maybe that was the lesson we were all meant to learn.
- But Ted loved the Mother so much! How could he do this to her? Ted loved her so much, yes. So very much, actually, that he drove his kids to madness by retelling the whole story in an attempt to remember and remember. But, remembering is not the same as being in that moment. You could remember and remember and remember and relive every moment you had with this person, but it does NOT bring him or her back. Ted’s character is very sentimental and emotional (as Lily said, “to Ted for having more emotional endurance than any guy I know…”), so it makes him cling onto things more than usual (like Robin, most especially). He made Tracey/Tracy’s life so special and he made her feel loved (and vice-versa). But his kids were right. She was long gone now. He had to move past it. He could not merely depend on memories the rest of his life.
I saved the best for last, mainly because this is the couple that the majority hated. Maybe because they were the “It Couple” eight seasons ago, but many have said that he has to move on, or the famous “Barney and Robin are sooooo much better than Ted/Robin!!!!!” line. But to understand why this couple is fitting (and admittedly a little problematic) has a lot to do with significance, one of Ted’s strong qualities.
- Ted had a lot of women. He had less than Barney, but he had his fair share. But if you really look closely, you can only name four (which will become three after this point ends).
– The Mother: the eponymous character whose name is Tracey/Tracy, TM. Ted’s soulmate, in destiny and similarities. Symbol: Yellow Umbrella.
– Victoria: the cupcake girl, who rescued Ted from further wallowing into Robin’s rejection.
Symbol: Cupcake/Runaway Bride/Germany (whatever, she was significant)
– Robin Scherbatsky: love at first sight, girlfriend for two seasons, first I-love-you was to Ted, still the person he runs to and who was there during ALL his big moments.
Symbol: Blue French Horn
– Stella: dermatologist who broke Ted’s heart by running away during their wedding to her ex. Ted’s 2-minute date.
- The show is really all about symbols, and for you to think the Yellow Umbrella was the only one, is a statement deemed wrong. There is the second main symbol, the Blue French Horn, that Ted stole for Robin [hmm, which parallels how Ted stole Tracey’s yellow umbrella on St. Patrick’s Day (3.12)] from a restaurant. All through out the show, one of the writers also pointed out that Robin wears shades of yellow, which brought about the possibility of her being the Mother. She also became Barney’s “yellow umbrella” in Season 5 [5.01 “Definitions”], when they first started out, and the list goes on. But really, secondary to the Yellow Umbrella is the Blue French Horn.
- Unlike Tracey, Robin is the anti-Ted. I think everyone knows this. She is problematic with commitment, hates children, hates destiny, hates love, and is not so much in love with the city as Ted is. Even if Ted does declare/show his love for her several times on the show [1.01, 1.22, 7.12 (-ish, through the Christmas lights show), 7.17, 8.24 (through helping her find the locket), 9.17, 9.22, and finally 9.24], she rejected him a lot (first in the Pilot, then in the third season through their break-up, and in the seventh season). But that’s why Ted finds her so significant, and influences her enough to change in the later seasons.
- Robin’s significance to Ted is equal to that of Tracey, as shown in the list below:
– Ted has done away with so many possible loves of his life just for Robin, most especially Victoria. Tracey is the only one that Ted chooses Robin over for, mainly because he has to live with the idea that his best friend Barney is ending up with her. But if Ted were to have Robin over any other girl before he met Tracey, he would choose Robin a thousand times over, in a heartbeat.
– Robin was there for ALL of Ted’s big moments, as Ted has been there for her big moments. These big moments include high points and low points. A significant low point for Ted was during his wedding to Stella, forewarned by Robin, and Ted chased Robin away enough to find that Robin was right, yet she ran back to him to comfort (4.05 “Shelter Island”). Vice-versa, Robin’s inability to conceive had Ted asking her what the problem was (as it was unknown to him), and even if Robin wouldn’t confide, he prepared a Christmas lights show (7.12 “Symphony of Illumination”). As seen in the finale, Robin wasn’t even there during Barney’s child’s birth, and she left immediately after Lily’s “Goodbye Apartment/Halloween” party, which had her remember that night she and Ted had that talk about fate. She was also present during T/T’s wedding (invited by the Mother herself!), knowing how significant R was to Ted. Barney was present during Robin’s big moments too, but not as thorough as Ted was (remember the locket?).
– Ted’s storytelling itself: The story should have been riddled with Mother anecdotes, but if you notice that throughout the seasons, Robin’s anecdotes always dominated. Do not look at the story from Carter Bays’ and Craig Thomas’s points of view, look at it from Ted’s. Even in storytelling, you realize some things along the way, as was pointed out by Ted’s kids themselves (“You have the hots for Aunt Robin!”). It was a crass way of saying it, of course, but it was true. Tracey and Robin were the only women Ted ever really loved, and even when Tracey passed away, he always had a deep feeling for Robin that never seemed to go away. Maybe it was because he invested 100% of himself into her and fell in love with her with no prejudice, no hesitance whatsoever (notice Ted’s hesitance to meet Tracey herself, as compared to his instant like for Robin). Robin was Ted’s first love, no holds barred. Even with Tracey, he was guarded already, and has become someone who no longer depends on destiny to find love. Yes, it was Tracey who has become his “twin” basically and who brought him back to his old self, but he knew that he wasn’t as guarded with her as he was with Robin, which made him feel like he cannot let go of Robin that easily, especially since they [T/R] haven’t recovered from each other properly.
Ultimately, Ted is stunted in growth as a character because he retreats back to what he was at the start, but he did change the person he loved so much to think the way he did. And even though he went through the least amount of change, he made the biggest impact on all of his friends, most especially Robin. Even Barney went through a Ted phase with his proposal and surprise party for Robin, in an attempt to mimic a less-than-problematic relationship they were presently in. Marshall and Lily are the most non-problematic ones on the show, except Lily’s problem to see that things have changed.
Tracey was ultimately Ted’s soulmate and true love, but Robin was ultimately the One.