When it was first announced that How I Met Your Mother season 9 would be making the shift to an enclosed seasonal storyline focusing on Robin and Barney’s wedding weekend, fans were appropriately concerned about what this could mean for the final season of CBS’ longtime television staple. But after just two episodes, one point has absolutely been made clear: it is (thankfully) the same show it has always been.
How I Met Your Mother has been on the air for 9 years now, and throughout, the long-promised coupling of Ted (Josh Radnor) and the Mother (Cristin Milioti) have somewhat tempered audiences to expect the unexpected - or at the very least, to be somewhat unaware of what’s to come. Sure, there are significant plot points - like Marshall’s (not so) secret judicial appointment (among others), which help connect the seasons with a coherent storyline - but as far knowing what’s going to happen – or which moment in time it will happen in – this is something How I Met Your Mother has never been known for, and is likely the cause of all the initial concern.
Like the future children of Ted, television audiences are merely witnessing the exorbitant tale of true love unfold before their eyes, and since the focus of the story is love – not time – knowing when a particular storyline is going to conclude has never been all that important - until now. Typically, Ted’s continuous tale of love is introduced with some semblance of a time, but not much; other times the timeline is ambiguous and can jump back and forth many years. In the final season, however, a timeline was set and the show’s endgame began. This, as it turns out, was a blessing in disguise.
Over the course of How I Met Your Mother, fans have often complained about the lack of actual structure to the show’s tales, many of which include numerous nods to the ever-absent Mother. In season 9, however, Robin and Barney’s wedding has allowed the series to tell a more structured tale about the actual meeting between Ted and the Mother - or as other some may call it, the plot of the show. On top of Ted and the soon-to-be wife being given an appropriate amount of time to be brought together, the defined timeline of the final season lets the show sidestep its familiar sporadic timeline, allowing for Lilly (Alyson Hannigan), Marshall (Jason Segel), Robin (Cobie Smulders) - and, more importantly, Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) - to tackle their own storylines in a surprisingly succinct manner.
As Ted inches ever closer to meeting the love of his life, all the many questions about his feelings for Robin, as well as his potential future, are being brought to the forefront; and because the series is set in such an enclosed timeline, the typical interruptions from “older Ted” (Bob Saget), which are used to help move things along, are replaced by the characters actually dealing with the issues at hand, across multiple episodes. It seems, in part that, in this final season, fans will finally get to see friendships and relationships be put to test in a more earnest way.
Still, as Dexter unfortunately proved not two weeks ago, no matter how successful a seasonal story-arc is it doesn’t mean that an appropriate finale will also accompany it. That said, How I Met Your Mother has been under the control of creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas as well producer/director Pamela Fryman, so if one were to take bets on how the series may end, a better comparison might be Vince Gilligan and Breaking Bad, because like Bays, Thomas and Fryman, it was Gilligan’s vision that served as the driving force of the series throughout. And when it comes to TV shows, there’s a good rule of thumb to follow: never bet against a creator who is personally crafting their show’s story until end.
_____How I Met Your Mother airs Mondays @8pm on CBS