TV: How I Met Your Mother season 9 (2013-14)

how-i-met-your-mother-season-9-premiere-1creators: Carter Bays & Craig Thomas
language: English with bits of Italian, Spanish, Russian and probably something else I forgot
length: 24 episodes, 22 minutes each
finished watching on: 1 April 2014

I’ve been roughly keeping up with this series since it started in about September last year – well, I’ve often forgotten about it for a few weeks and had to catch up, but last year I think I watched the whole series in two days and felt empty afterwards because none of the episodes had time to sink in. So this time it was a bit better.

This one is about Barney and Robin’s wedding, and the premise is now that it’s set over the course of about 24 or 48 hours. As such, there’s a lot of filler – but there’s also the opportunity to establish some running gags over the whole series, which perhaps wouldn’t have staying power in any of the series lasting a year.

Here, unlike previous series, the mother has been introduced (although we don’t hear her name until the final episode, I think). We now get to see more episodes involving her, and some flashforward to after they’ve met – and the 200th episode tells her story up to that point. I think it would have been better for them to have introduced her a few seasons earlier – the format of this season worked quite well in that respect, and her introduction was a bit of an anticlimax after 8 years.

But perhaps it wouldn’t work that well – part of How I Met Your Mother’s appeal is that they had so many conflicting theories on who the mother would be and how they’d meet, especially in the early days before facts started really pouring out. And then the ending wouldn’t have worked quite as well – or maybe it would. Need I mention that the next paragraph contains spoilers?

The ending was a big disappointment for a lot of people. I’m inclined to agree, but I can see some sort of sense in it. The idea is that after the end of the season, Barney and Robin get divorced and then the mother dies of some unknown illness, and in the final scene, the kids convince the older Ted to go find Robin. It was made worse for me because I had downloaded a mislabelled file which skipped the first half of the final episode, meaning that I missed them getting a divorce.

In some ways, this follows a realistic plotline – in the real world, people die and people get divorced, and stories don’t always have a traditional happy ending. However, this is not the real world, this is TV world, and in TV world, when you’ve worked your way up for around four seasons to the climax of a wedding (where we already know Ted will meet his future wife), it’s downright mean to have it not work out properly. The mother is a different case, and I’m a bit more sympathetic to the idea of that not working out properly because of outside factors, but Barney and Robin spent a lot of time emotionally adjusting to each other during this season and the ones before, so even though it can be expected that it might not work out, it feels like we’ve wasted time. The problem with the mother’s ending is the converse: we didn’t get enough time to become attached to her, so the final episode, while sad, couldn’t make me react in a very strong way.

The final ending where Ted goes to get Robin back just makes the whole series feel like a “shaggy dog” story (I can’t remember the origin of that term, but it means like a pointless story). Sure, it explains why he went into so much detail about his feelings for Robin, but it again feels like we’ve been cheated. Perhaps even worse is the fact that it’s well known that the final scene was filmed about 7 years ago – when it became clear that the kids were growing up, and that they could only have them reacting to things Ted said in the first two seasons or so, they filmed the final scene early. So the producers have known exactly how the series would end for a very long time.

But that said, I did see someone reacting to the ending by editing all the depressing and unsatisfying parts out entirely and posting it on Youtube as an alternative ending, and I’d have to say I disagree with that. The ending is what it is, and I think it’s realistic enough that I’ll give it a pass on that. In some ways, because the finale had been built up so much, if nothing had happened and we’d got a completely happy ending, it would be more disappointing.

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