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A Scott Pukos Pop-Ed: Waiting for It: A Look at the 'HIMYM' Finale

J’accuse, How I Met Your Mother.

I can see it now: It’s 9 p.m. on Monday. My finger is extending in an accusatory fashion at my TV, and things that are definitely not tears are sprawled across my face. This is the fear for fans of HIMYM— they’re going to botch the ending.

Killing off The Mother would definitely fall into that category of undesirable conclusions. Ted getting back with Robin after The Mother’s death would be even worse. You can go back and watch old episodes, and there is potential foreshadowing that this could happen. And of course, as Popculturology Editor in Chief Bill Kuchman detailed in his recap, “Vesuvius” slapped us in the face with the idea that The Mother is headed for a tragic, perhaps fatal, ending.

But my theory/hope? It’s a red herring. I know there’s plenty of evidence that this could happen (The Mother’s backstory with her first love dying seems like it could be a clue, that Ted may go through the same thing). My reasoning for why this won’t happen is pretty simple too: HIMYM has always nailed the big moments. And they’ve always been good with the element of surprise. They wouldn’t telegraph a long-rumored theory if it were the actual ending, would they?

Even as the quality dipped in later seasons, big scenes like Barney’s proposal to Robin were still perfect. The last season has gotten a lot of criticism too (some of it justifiable), but has had great moments as well. That greatness started with the casting of Cristin Milioti as The Mother. If you don’t have a major crush on her, I feel there may be something wrong with you. She’s charming, funny and can totally rock a pair of driving gloves.

Milioti has already had the best moments of the final season. Her uke version of “La Vie en Rose” was endearing, heartbreaking and kind of perfect. Another season highlight: Ted punching the jerk band member, followed by the mother buying “whoever the best man is” a glass of Glen McKenna Scotch, while Bad Books’ song “Forest Whitaker” played in the background. Such a solid moment. Also, I realize it’s fictional, but I really want some of that Scotch.

Of course, there have been underwhelming moments in the final season too — like the final slap, the whole concept of all 20-plus episodes taking place over one weekend — but I’m choosing to ignore those, for now.

Now, what about that big moment? The moment when the show’s name finally comes to fruition. The lead line of one of my favorite songs is, “anticipation has a habit to set you up/for disappointment.”* And well, we’ve been anticipating the moment where Ted meets The Mother for a long time. It’s a tough task for creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas. They’ve always been good at soundtracking pivotal moments with the perfect song, so maybe we’ll get some Arcade Fire or Explosions in the Sky for the introduction. Or maybe the meeting will begin with a classic, “haaaaaave you met Ted?” (Note: I actually think I’d be fine with this.)

The weeks leading up to the finale have persuaded me into thinking HIMYM is the sitcom version of Lost. The show itself has a intricate mythology that fans love to dissect for clues. And the later seasons of both shows left fans hoping the writers could recapture the magic of the earlier seasons — the time when viewers first fell in love with the show.

Now, I recently rewatched the final season of Lost, and while it’s certainly not as great as past seasons, it’s still very good. And the finale? I thought they nailed it. Sure they didn’t answer every question (GUYS, who shot at the outrigger in Season 5?!), but it was emotional and was a great sendoff to characters we cared about (and it was definitely not purgatory at the end, WHY DO PEOPLE THINK THIS?!).

This is my hope for HIMYM — a great sendoff for our friends Ted, Robin, Barney, Marshall and Lily. That’s it. If we don’t get all the secrets (like what’s up with the pineapple incident) or it turns out the mother’s name is goofy, like Gertrude or Ursula (personally, my money is on Leia), I won’t be mad. As long as the final goodbye does justice to the gang, I’ll be happy.

This final stretch of episodes (and a few other factors) inspired me to go back and rewatch old episodes. And, oh man, I forgot how great they are. There are so many awesome moments — Robin Sparkles, the slap bet, Puzzles, Ted’s tramp stamp, the intervention banner, Ted and Marshall’s sword fight, and so much more. That’s the great thing about shows like this, you can always go back and watch again. And if it’s been long enough, the sense of freshness and mystery can even return (to some degree anyway).

The farewell tour has given us nice moments from the cast too (Jason Segel and Neil Patrick Harris’ "The Confrontation" singing duel is fantastic). There’s a certain sadness when a beloved show ends, but the cast seem to be rightfully celebrating the good times. And I think fans are as well. So, I’ll have my pretend Glen McKenna ready to go Monday night … I’m thinking it should be, well, exactly like a Barney Stinson catch phrase.

*The song is “The View From the Afternoon” by Arctic Monkeys. You should listen to it.
A Scott Pukos Pop-Ed: Waiting for It: A Look at the 'HIMYM' Finale Reviewed by Scott Pukos on 3/30/2014 Rating: 5

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