It’s been a little over a month since the finale of How I Met Your Mother aired and the ensuing ire over (SPOILER ALERT!) the double blow of the death of Ted’s beloved Tracy followed by Future!Ted renewing his romance with Robin. The one-two punch of these events left a bad taste in many viewers’ mouths (We just got to know Tracy and they killed her off?! We were told Robin wasn’t the one but in the end he still ends up with her?!) to the point that message boards lit up with heated discussions about the finale immediately after the show (or in the case of Twitter as the show aired) and well into the next day, and the day after that, and the day after that.
I wasn’t one of those who totally hated the finale. In fact, a part of me was guiltily happy Ted finally had a real chance at a fulfilled, reciprocated relationship with Robin, a woman I watched him burn for since the beginning, even as I mourned Tracy and the grief Ted must have felt in losing the woman he had been searching for these turbulent nine years so brutally quickly.
On one hand, while it seemed implied that the story Ted was telling his kids was the love story between him and their mother, if you take off the filter that this is supposed to be Ted and Tracy’s love story and analyze what we were shown onscreen, the story I saw over the nine years HIMYM on air was that of Ted and Robin: how gaga Ted was over Robin at first site, how he fought for her, lost her, pined for her, tried to get over her, couldn’t, buried his feelings, moved on (but not really), and rinse and repeat. It was the story of Robin holding up her walls, learning to let them down, trying to find herself, trying not to hurt Ted or herself, running away, inching back, falling in love with Ted inch by inch over the years until, too late, she realized he was the one but had lost her chance to be with him- until unexpectedly she did.
But at the same time, and with just as much resonance, I saw the story of Ted the every hopeful romantic who would always wear his heart on his sleeve, be too restless to sit and wait for things to happen, who followed his heart and pursued Robin to the point of bittersweet angst for them both, who searched diligently for a partner, the one, someone to share his life, dreams, and passions with, who you knew was out there and had found as he was talking to their kids, and who you realized had to inspire a love so special and wonderful as to blow whatever he felt for Robin out of the water.
This woman had to be special. And Tracy McConnell was pretty darned special in the handful of episodes we spent with her.
And her and Ted’s connection –especially that first meeting and subsequent first date-were pretty magical.
Which was why it hurt SO badly when you realized she was dying. I hurt for her and her kids, most definitely, but I really hurt for Ted, the hopeful romantic who I rooted for to get his girl and his family and have all his dreams come true and to live happily ever after, only for bitter reality to crush that happily ever after with a big ‘Undisclosed dying disease’ boot.
And yet there was still Robin. The woman before Tracy. The woman who had held Ted’s heart like no other.
And she was still there. Ready now to love and commit to him. And Ted, after grieving Tracy for six years, the every hopeful unrelenting romantic, realized he still had feelings for her.
So when we got to the final scene of Robin looking out her window to find Ted with the blue French Horn, I admit it, I smiled. As bummed as I was about Tracy, I was happy Ted wasn’t giving up on love, wasn’t staying down for the count, but trying again, trying with a woman who he had loved and who had hurt him many times before but who he would try again because his heart wouldn’t let him do otherwise.
In the end, for me, the heart of the story was Ted: following his ups and downs, successes and failures, heartbreaks and joys. It was about his journey and navigation through the complications and obstacles of life to weather it all and come out smarter, wiser, open, and for lack of a better word, ready to accept the gifts that come your way- which for Ted was the opportunity to love and be loved by Tracy, and finally, the non-mother, Robin.
It may not have been exactly the story promised or implied in the pilot, and we took some long strange detours to get there (I’m looking at you Season 9 of Barney and Robin’s wedding) but as long as I could buy that Ted Mosby was happy, and Josh Radnor sold me that Ted was, then I could be happy for Ted and Robin reuniting in the end and feel Ted’s journey was complete.
The faithful hopeful romantic got the girl and another chance at happily ever after; that’s a finale I can live with.