With “How I Met Your Mother” taking a few weeks off until Feb. 24 and our reviews on a two-week break, now seems like as good a time as any to take a big-picture look at the show as it heads down the home stretch.
There are only seven episodes left in the series, and Feb. 3’s “Sunrise” marked the 201st time “HIMYM” hit the small screen. Unfortunately, “Sunrise” was another letdown for the show’s final season, as it (for the millionth time) focused on Ted’s leftover feelings for Robin.
The episode brought up some short-term issues for the rest of the season but also begs the question that would have changed the tone of the entire series: Should Ted have ultimately ended up with Robin?
Let’s start with the smaller issues.
We met The Mother in the 200th episode, aptly titled “How Your Mother Met Me.” We learned how close Ted was to bumping into The Mother much earlier in his life. Filled with callbacks and some fun video-inserting technology, The Mother was presented as a character we could easily fall in love with.
But will we have enough time?
With all the filler junk we’ve seen this season, it seems like the writers have dropped the ball by not having The Mother involved in every episode. The final season could have kept the one-weekend structure, but half of each episode could have also been flashbacks solely of The Mother.
Instead, we get glimpses of The Mother and a whole episode devoted to Marshall trying to put Marvin to sleep. The writers are hedging their bets. By having The Mother in a select few scenes, they can ensure she’s likable and maintain a spark between her and Ted. But with the structure of this final season and the series’ pace slowed to a crawl, it’s left an unsatisfying feeling.
As promised, let’s get back to Robin. We mentioned there have been 201 episodes of “HIMYM,” and sometimes it feels like Ted’s feelings for Robin have been the central storyline in every single one of them.
Looking back at the true heyday of this show, its first two seasons, the Ted and Robin relationship took center stage. They had the best chemistry of any couple on the show. The writers’ constant — and I do mean constant — re-introduction of Ted’s feelings for Robin made us hold out hope that somehow they would end up together.
With the storyline having been hammered to death and the show running for so long, the charm of Ted and Robin has long been forgotten.
With Ted still so caught up with Robin, seemingly hours away from when he will meet The Mother, how are we supposed to believe he can fall in love with someone else? Ted is planning to move to Chicago because he loves Robin too much. But in a few hours, he’ll look at a bass player and everything will be okay? It doesn’t make too much sense.
And Robin’s marriage to Barney also baffles me. If Robin really does want to settle down and have a family, who would choose Barney over Ted? Also these guys are all best friends, and that really just creeps me out.
So should Robin have been the mother all along?
It certainly would have taken some fun out of the show. But it could have added another element of mystery at the same time. It would have been fun to see if the writers could somehow fold in all the mythology of The Mother and turn that person into Robin.
Ultimately, “HIMYM” is a show cursed by a brilliant premise that was stretched out for way too long. Ruling out Robin as the mother very early helped jump start the series but also handcuffed the show’s most interesting pair.
While The Mother has shined in very limited spots this season, it’s unclear if the writers will truly be able to bring us to love that character. With seven episodes left, the show will be hard pressed to shake the unsatisfaction of years of running around in circles.