*** WARNING: Season Nine Final Episode Spoilers Below ***
How I Met Your Mother fans will take solace in the fact that when Ted finally did meet the mother of his children, it was sweet, well-written and well-acted moment. That accounted for just two minutes of an hour-long two-part finale however, and the rest will go down as one of the worst television endings in history.
Prior to the finale I compared the show and its whole mythology to cult TV series Lost, but little did I know the comparison would end up being so apt, as the show ends exactly where it began: with Ted, Robin and that blue horn.
Ultimately show-runners Carter Bays and Craig Thomas proved in their final episode that they never had a clue why people watched their show for nine years.
Nine whole years waiting to see who the mother was, how Ted met her and how their relationship unfolded. All of that, only for the mother to be little more than an after-thought in the end.
As many had predicted Ted's narration of the story to his kids took place after the death of the mother – whose name is revealed by Tracy McConnell. The absolute worst thing however is that we don't even see the mother die.
The entire relationship of Ted and Tracy is condensed into as short a time as possible. The Mother was never anything more than an after-thought, a tragic character whose sad backstory (explained in the 200th episode How Your Mother Met Me) was a journey that would lead to her just a few years with Ted before an illness that is never explained claims her.
"She got sick," says Ted, as we see her at Tracy's bedside, reading her book. That's as close as we ever get to a conclusion of their story and it's just before we see them meet for the first time.
As the episode neared its end we return to his kids in 2030. In scenes shot many years ago we discover that the whole story – which was mainly about Ted and Robin – was only being told so Ted could ask his children's permission to move on from his dead wife, their dead mother, and ask Robin out on a date.
They're fine with it, they love Robin, and that's fair enough. Ted and Robin however was never a couple many wanted to win out. The whole selling point of the show has been to see Ted meet the woman of his dreams and live happily ever after. Yes, how it did end was a twist of sorts, it wasn't even that bad of an ending in of itself, but nobody can claim to have wanted it. Worst still it all came at the expense of the Mother herself, a character dragged through the mud and killed off just to reach this conclusion.
I came to loathe this show and how it panned out, but even so I expected them to deliver a satisfying conclusion. I wanted to see Ted meet the mother, I wanted to see their wedding, I wanted to see them happy and for the show to come to the close promised. That is not what we got.
As for the rest of the episode. Well done undoing an entire season's building up to a wedding in ten minutes by announcing that Robin and Barney got divorced three years later. Way to render the last three seasons spent developing their relationship and growing Barney's character completely obsolete.
How they dealt with Barney's character arc in spite of this however was quite sweet and was a more natural conclusion than him marrying Robin, even if over the years of their 'will-they-won't-they?' relationship we came to accept that as a good enough end.
And as for Lily and Marshall? We can be grateful Lily wasn't the horrendous person she's been since the show began, but the pair have been peripheral characters for a while now and they were no more than that here.
I'm someone who was generally apathetic toward the show from about the fourth season onwards. I laughed off its poorly handled story for the most part, but even I found that finale an insulting abomination.
If How I Met Your Mother was a straight show, played out under a different title and premise, then the ending could well have worked. However in the end that premise turned out to be a lie. This was and always has been How I Met Your Step-Mother, and that's the ultimate disappointment.