The first half of the season kind of dragged and was a bit slow, but it still had its great moments and it tied up some loose ends thankfully. Right after the atrocious rhyming episode, the show got back to its roots and was once again hilarious and charming all at once. The second half really made up for anything I didn't enjoy in the first half. In fact, it may contain some of the best episodes over these past three seasons. The highly emotional "How Your Mother Met Me" had me choked up moreso than any other episode in the show's long run. If you aren't at the brink of tears during her monologue, you don't have a heart. Bottom line.
I was so excited for Ted last night, I really was. The entire first 40 or so minutes of the episode did so much to tie up loose ends and give us an engaging picture of Ted and the Mother's life as well as that of the gang. I didn't really care either way that Barney and Robin split. Sure, they'd built up the wedding for so long you thought they'd end up together. It *is* a major slap in the face of their long romantic arc, but I can let it go because I didn't really care about them being together anyways. It was always Ted's story.
The only problem with this finale is the last three minutes. The story should have ended with, "And that, kids, is how I met your mother." With the promise that was set forth by the writers on day one, that was the exact point at which it should have ended. I'm a writer (and I'm not being arrogant about it. I'm unpublished as of right now, but I've studied storytelling for pretty much my entire life) and they broke the cardinal rule with this rug they decided to rip out from under us. You can't deny the payoff you promised at the beginning of the story. They gave it to us, yes, but it was made all at once unimportant when not even two minutes after the final reveal, he goes back to his ex. It doesn't matter if you liked it and were able to let it slide. It's a fact that they destroyed the entire story by undermining it will the final "twist". It is an insult to the grand story arc they built up for 9 years on "being in the right place at the right time" or "how everything in your life is leading to something". They just couldn't leave well enough alone. It would not have been tragic if she'd died and Ted was left alone with his kids. It would have thoroughly reinforced the strength of why this story had to be told to his children, to honor his wife and show them how much he loved her. The last three minutes make Tracy seem like a conciliation prize until he could get Robin who was ultimately selfish and didn't deserve a person like Ted.
By having Ted continue on after that and going back to Robin, they essentially washed away all the emotional build up of their meeting. It's fine that she died. What isn't fine is Ted's seeming ambivalence to the occurance. We only see him begin to cry when mentioning the word "Mother" in one of their flash-forwards in an episode 8 or so weeks ago. At the time I had no idea what it was about, most of us didn't (I'd assumed maybe his mother had died or something. I never really thought at that time that Tracy might have died). Now we know he was crying because she was sick when they were in Farhampton for their anniversary. That's the only scent of sadness about her death.
The writers botched it. The promise was to show us Ted's grand journey of how he came to meet the woman of his dreams and boy was she. Tracy is Ted's perfect mate. Cristin M. did an outstanding job of making her so loveable and so much of what Ted wanted, I immediately bought in. And when they meet under that umbrella and piece together all those very key moments throughout this lesson for his children, it gave me chills and nearly made me cry. I was so happy for them. Radnor's performance with her in the flash-forwards, especially in the last episode, also made me believe she really was his perfect soul mate. Never in the show's history had Ted grabbed a woman and kissed her as passionately as he did her, even Robin. They did an amazing job commiting to this performance as a couple.
And then it's gone in one fell swoop. Some people say they "liked it," Whatever. You can like it if you want, lie to yourself about it, whatever gets you through the day. But the very fact of the matter is the writers ruined, lessened the value of, and basically utterly destroyed all that build up to why Ted and the MOTHER'S meeting was magical. Whether or not she died, she should have been the only woman who could fill that void. The "I let go of you finally, Robin" episode, "Sunrise," was a lie in the end.
In the end, the entire show was a lie. For me it will always end with the perfect line, "And that, kids, is how I met your mother." It could have been the *perfect* finale if they'd just had the guts to end it there and give viewers some credit.
EDIT: So I'm sure we've all now heard they have an alternate and alltogether happier ending that will be featured on the DVD for this season and the boxed set. I guess, at least, there is some solace to those of us who didn't enjoy the telling as it stands now. My only problem with this is that it's still the "alternate" ending, meaning it's meant as a kind of poultice for the unhappy segment of their fanbase and it will always feel like the afterthought, in a way. Still, I guess it's better than nothing that they at least acknowledge the misstep in some small way. Maybe if I view that ending enough times I can make myself forget the old one.