After what has amounted to a 9-year-long TED (Mosby) Talk, How I Met Your Mother will conclude next week with an hour long episode with a fuckload of fan hopes riding on it. But will devotees be satisfied with the ending? Nope. Because many fans don't want the show to end, period.
As Buzzfeed's Emily Orley points out in a manic series of questions HIMYM must answer for fans, the show's still left a lot of strings untied, and, chances are that the show won't have time to answer them all. It's just not mathematically possible. An hour long network show still has to leave space for the requisite ad time, and that leaves less than 50 minutes to answer more than 50 questions and do nothing else. No time for dramatic pauses, no time for hijinks. No time for fun. Not gonna happen, kids!
[Here be spoilers (drawing of an octopus telling a sea monster what happens to Omar in The Wire):]
Because this entire season has taken place over the weekend of Barney and Robin's wedding (with some flash forwards and flashbacks), many fans assumed that the final episode would involve the couple's wedding ceremony. Since that happened (successfully, but with hangups) last night, that leaves next week's finale's events in a big question mark shape. WHY DOES TED LEAVE HOW DO HE AND THE MOTHER MEET WHAT HAPPENS TO ROBIN AND BARNEY WHY ISN'T TED IN CHICAGO WHY IS TED TELLING HIS KIDS THAT STORY? IS THE MOTHER DEAD? IS TED DEAD? WHO IS DEAD GODDAMN IT?!?
To a spotty watcher of the show like me, HIMYM reads like weekly installment of a very, very long inside joke to which I'm only partially privy, and an overarching mysterious conclusion alluded to via a series of inscrutable clues. Like hanging out with people who have known each other for a long time when I've only just barely met them, but also I'm psychic in the voice of Bob Saget. A strange mental state, for a casual fan.
But to devoted watcher, HIMYM was like a ready made clique of funny, thoughtful, self-deprecating friends they got to hang out with every week. While some shows with devoted fan bases draw from material that sometimes seems to kind of hate its viewers, or at least has no qualms about being kind of cruel to them (Game of Thrones), the people behind How I Met Your Mother created a show that loved its audience right back, and its conclusion means an end to something that, in fans' eyes, treated them like a part of the group. Here's one recapper lamenting the highly anticipated meeting that will send the show packing.
[O]nce Ted meets the Mother that's it, folks. Porky Pig might as well pop out of a drum, because the show will be over. It'll be a fleeting moment that Ted, the Mother, and the series' dedicated fans will remember always. We'll talk about the episodes that led up to this moment, and about how many hours we spent waiting and preparing for her arrival in Ted's life and in ours. But at the end of the day, it's still just that single moment. It might be the most important one in the show's narrative, but that doesn't change all of the things that happened before it, nor does it devalue them.
People unfamiliar with the unique relationship between the show and its fans might think of that attitude as a bit much. But it's pretty widespread. Here's Entertainment Weekly on last night's episode:
Even with one more hour of the show left for us to see, I felt like his words were a parting letter to the fans: "It was a twisting, turning road that led to the end of the aisle. Not everything everything along the way was perfect. To be honest, not everything to follow would be perfect, either. But what is? Here's the secret, kids: None of us can vow to be perfect. In the end, all we can do is promise to love each other with everything we've got. Because love's the best thing we do."
And Twitter isn't happy about the show's ending, either.
So while many questions about Ted Mosby's romantic fate remain unanswered for the time being, one plot point in the finale is abundantly clear: people are going to miss the hell out of this show. And that one of the unbroken rules of TV is that weddings can't just happen without some kind of ensuing fuckery.