I’ve been behind on all the TV shows I watch, which is why I’ve been blogging mostly about movies. But now I’m getting through my backlog and I have a lot to say. First up, How I Met Your Mother. (Contains spoilers up to S08E18 – Weekend at Barney’s)
The one argument against How I Met Your Mother that I have never understood is that Ted still hasn’t met the mother. I constantly hear this and it makes me wonder if the people with this argument understand how television and general storytelling work. There’s a fine line between TV critic and contrarian. If you think Ted Mosby is going to meet the mother in any episode that isn’t the series finale, you’re idea of the show is vastly different from my own.
That’s what I’ve always thought, at least. Then Barney proposed to Robin and when the show returned from the winter break they set the date for this May. Ted is finally meeting the mother at the end of this season and now that they’ve officially announced that next season will be the final season of the show, I’m baffled.
I’m sure this season will end with Ted waiting for the train in Farhampton and meeting his future wife in the rain. It’ll be a great payoff to a story that’s been nearly a decade in the making. But what does that mean for the final season?
The mother has become this mythical character for the audience. She’s the answer to all of Ted’s problems. She’s his soul mate. The writers are going to be running a big risk of wrecking this image they’ve constructed for us. If she’s perfect and they’re perfect together, how can the show sustain a season of them dating without creating conflict? There are two possibilities that may work.
Possibility #1 may be the most likely. Ted meeting the mother won’t be when he starts dating her. He’ll spend the final season chasing her. It’s a risk the writers would have to be very careful with. They would have to figure out a convincing reason for the mother to not be available. They’ve already hooked Ted up with a married woman, though, and that wasn’t their best work. So it will be very tricky, especially with a character of this much importance.
Possibility #2 is that Ted’s journey is complete and we’re treated to a cute dating story of him discovering this woman is his true love while the writers wrap up the other characters’ story arcs. This is the safer option and one I can get behind. However, it leads me to question where the conflict will come from. It’s the final season of a long-running sitcom, stuff needs to get real.
This gives me a prediction for the last few episodes of the penultimate season of How I Met Your Mother. Barney and Robin won’t get married in May. Their relationship has always been rocky and, honestly, it’s hard to buy that they’ll live happily ever after just yet. We’ve seen hints of their respective reticence on their future wedding day. My prediction is that they won’t get married and season 9 will shift the focus from Ted’s love life to Barney and Robin finally getting together in a way that will be definitive.
That’s a lot to expect from the show, however. Like any show closing the gap on nearly a decade on the air, How I Met Your Mother has seen better days. I have reservations about the show having any episodes after Ted meets the mother for one very important reason. The writers haven’t written strong relationship material in a while.
The Autumn of Breakups at the beginning of this season, for example, was a very sloppy way for the writers to backpedal out of established storylines. Ted and Victoria deserved a much bigger arc than what we were given. Instead, Victoria gives Ted an ultimatum ripped directly from Friends.
Robin and Nick were no better. He was established in season 6 as an important love interest for Robin. I understand it was intended for him to come back in season 7 but he was unavailable and Kal Penn got the role instead. But they should have done more with him this season. Instead they established him as a major love interest only to create a character too dumb to date Robin after 4 episodes.
And, of course, there’s Barney and Quinn. They never really had much chemistry and the plot seemed really forced. Much like with Ted and Victoria, the writers’ choice to end the season with Barney engaged only to back out of it a couple episodes later left me feeling cheated.
One of the strongest things the show has had going for it was its ability to craft touching romantic comedy moments. It’s a talent that was absent when Barney proposed to Robin. I’m hoping the highly manipulative and hasty proposal will keep them from marrying each other this year.
In either case, I’m just not sure how the show will end next season or this spring, for that matter. I hope knowing next season is the last will rejuvenate the writing and the series will end strong. I won’t get my hopes up until I see how this season ends, though.
I will say that “Weekend at Barney’s” was a nice return to form for the series and I hope the show maintains that momentum. It was the funniest episode they’ve had in a while.
So how do you feel about How I Met Your Mother this season? What do you think will happen this season and next? Leave a comment and don’t forget to follow the blog on Facebook and Twitter @ObsessiveViewer
UPDATE – 4/4/2014
Listen as my friends and I breakdown the How I Met Your Mother series finale. Click the image below.