Worst Episode of ‘How I Met Your Mother’ Ever
In 2005 CBS with creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas, released a show that targeted a completely different audience than the network typically went after. Of all the television networks, CBS has found its strength tailoring to an older audience with bland shows that never really rock the boat too much. Which is why How I Met Your Mother stood out, this was a sitcom with a long running plot thread. The series was centered on manic pixie dream boy Ted Mosby who is desperately seeking the “love of his life”. Along the way we meet his friends: Marshall and his girlfriend/later wife Lily, Ted’s on –and-off again Robin, and Barney played with endless charisma by Neil Patrick Harris. Each of them was incredibly likable and we as an audience got wrapped up in their ongoing lives. Along the way we looked to a future that had already been filmed, where Ted is telling the story to his kids of how he met their mothers. This gave us an ultimate end goal to where the series would end. But there was a problem, with the conclusion to How I Met You Mother set in stone there a no wiggle room to change the narrative along the way. This is why the series finale “Last Forever” is the worst episode of How I Met Your Mother Ever.
Through a series of out-of-order time jumps we watch Ted meet Tracy at the long-awaited wedding of Barney and Robin. As these two grow closer Ted and Robin grow further apart. Marshall’s legal career truly takes off while Lily tries to hold the group together. It all leads to one of the worst endings to any TV show ever.
The biggest sin this episode committed was trying to lie to us as an audience that Ted and Robin belonged together. For 9 seasons this was a well the writers came to far too often and each time we saw why these two did not belong with one another. At the end of the day Robin is a career-driven woman who is not really seeking out a deep long-term relationship, whereas Ted is starry-eyed and lovestruck. It can be argued he does not truly love Robin, but rather the idea of her. This is where having the ending to your years long series already set comes back to bite you in the head. From the start Ted and Robin were going to be together so logic be damned it was going to happen. Whether planned or not somewhere along the way, Robin did find love with Barney and surprisingly these two had a ridiculous chemistry and viewers actually ended up rooting for them to be together. Story wise, there was even something poetic about the two most commitment-phobic characters on the show being the ones who ultimately commit to each other. Their wedding would be the driving arc for the show’s final season, which we told ourselves would get TWO satisfying pay-offs: Robin and Barney would be married and Ted would finally meet the love of his life. Make no mistake, after nine seasons the sitcom was creatively exhausted, but we had collectively made it this far so we had to finish it out.
The second biggest sin “Last Forever” committed was what it did to the “Mother” of the How I Met Your MOTHER. As Tracy, actress Cristin Milloti, was endlessly charming and had immediate chemistry with the already established ensemble. Frankly she deserved better than someone like Ted but I digress. After nine seasons of trials and tribulations this was Mission Accomplished….but then Carter Bays and Craig Thomas killed her off in short order. As far as feeling betrayed, the audience knew the hurt Ralph Wiggum felt when being dissed by Lisa after she cho-cho-chose him. We collectively learned that despite this televised journey we had been on for far too long, the MacGuffin driving it all was pointless. All she was meant to be was another obstacle in the stupid coupling of Ted and Robin. The fact that Tracy was so damned likable made it all even worse. For a man who often delved into creepy stalker territory in his all-consuming quest for “the one”, Ted seemed to have no problem moving on from her.
The time flow of this episode also presents a myriad of issues. One of the complaints of the How I Met Your Mother final season was the snail’s pace at which it moved. The bulk of the overall 24 episodes took place over the span of a few days. The show’s audience became a real life version of the characters from Monty Python and the Holy Grail as they all yelled at the narrator to “get on with it”. But once “Last Forever” hit we moved through several years at a break neck speed with little time to dwell on anything. You could picture the frenzied mess in the writers room as they scrambled around trying to cover EVERYTHING past and future in 40-something minutes. Some poor lone voice was probably in the corner saying, “I told them not to spend 827 episodes with Ted and Lily in the cab”.
Perhaps How I Met Your Mother was meant to be an exercise in the futility of life. It all started with a funny fivesome of friends, but by the end they have devolved into toolbags and the main point of watching them was for nothing. This far from the only beloved comedy to end as a shell of itself as shows like: Roseanne, the Office, and That 70s Show did as well. The difference is, people still watch those shows through syndication and streaming and are reminded of the good times. Hell, the Office is still one of the most bingable shows in the streamoshphere. Nobody does this with How I Met Your Mother, by the end of it all we had a feeling that we had suffered enough. Even when viewing the episodes from its heyday we cannot escape the negative feelings of how it will all end.