(warning! spoilers!)

I didn’t like the HIMYM finale because it compressed too much into one hour and didn’t let us deal emotionally with all these things happening: divorce, death, birth, etc., bam bam bam. In my head, this is how the final season should have gone (actual events are basically unchanged, just rearranged and we don’t spend so much time on the wedding, because damn):

Episodes 1 & 2: Hour-long season premiere. At Robin & Barney’s wedding, the messed up family stuff with Robin’s parents intersects with Barney’s doubts about everything. Marshall & Lily fighting over moving to Italy/lies over judgeship. “And that’s how Lily met your mother” (cookie scene).

Episode 3: How Your Mother Met Me, pretty much as aired (also in this episode, she meets Marshall picking him up on his way to the Inn).

Episode 4: Resolution to Lily & Marshall’s fight over Italy/judgeship, and “and that’s how Barney met your mother.”

Episode 5: The locket. Robin’s doubts about Barney resolved. “And that’s how Robin met your mother” (breathing scene). Round-robin (ha) of everybody beaming as Robin & Barney get married, and the final slap.

Episode 6: Barney tries to keep everything going at the wedding reception until the early hours so he doesn’t have to feel tied down by marriage, including scene with him wanting Ted to meet the Mom. Stuff about Barney’s anxiety about growing old with lots of time-jumping (including stuff from finale with him being so tired, but without explaining whose baby he is referring to). Ends with Ted seeing the Mom on the train platform.

Episode 7: How everybody found out Ted is moving to Chicago. Goodbye high-five at the end of the wedding (and it’s clearer that the wedding is winding down at that point, instead of seeming to happen in the middle of everything, so Ted doesn’t seem like so much of a douche bailing on his friends’ wedding). After the credits, Ted telling Marshall and Lily he’s not moving to Chicago because he’s met this girl.

Episode 8: Ted and the Mom’s first date.

Episode 9: Something with Ted interacting with the Mom’s friends. Meanwhile in Italy, hijinks with funyuns.

Episode 10: At McLaren’s, celebrating Marshall & Lily’s return from Italy. Robin & Barney seem happy though they bicker a little about always travelling. (It’s great, really. It’s just great.) Some kind of conflict between the Mom and Lily. Marshall gets a job he hates and is determined to be positive about it.

Episode 11: Oh yeah, I never told you the story of the second-to-last slap. (No training montage.)

Episode 12: Marshall is miserable at work while Lily is a ridiculous success at her painting. The Mom is shown integrated into the group at the bar. (Robin is missing from these scenes.) Meanwhile, Robin & Barney fight over travel/work issues. Ends with “I love you, and I promised I’d always tell you the truth” and their break-up.

Episode 13: Barney regresses to his usual bro-ishness, disgusting Lily, who tries and fails to fix him. Robin & Lily talk on the phone long-distance and Lily can’t get Robin to comment on Barney. Future Ted talks about accepting people as they are. Marshall becomes Judge Fudge.

Episode 14: The Mom meets her own doppelganger. Lily decides to stick with tradition and get pregnant again. The Wedding Bride becomes a major Broadway hit, prompting Ted to ask the Mom to move in with him.

Episode 15: Barney’s perfect month. Meanwhile, Sandy Rivers briefly dates Kelly (the Mom’s friend from How Your Mother Met Me) and we find out he is jealous of Robin’s success.

Episode 16: Lily and Robin struggle with their friendship when they never see each other. Time-jumps galore. Something with the Mom and her friends dealing with the introduction of Ted into their lives. Lots of stuff about the way friendships change over time. Ends with Lily alone in the empty apartment in her whale suit.

Episode 17: Barney gets #31 pregnant and we find out at Robots v Wrestlers. We get a scene showing #31 freaked-out saying she can’t raise a baby; Barney tells her he’ll raise the baby, talks about how he’s always loved his nephew and besides babies get you chicks, just kidding, I love babies. Ends with the “you are the love of my life” speech.

Episode 18: Entirely set at the Farhampton Inn, but jumps around in time between three times Ted & the Mom are there (Ted proposing to the Mom at the lighthouse, Ted & the Mom’s vacation weekend trying to pretend everything is normal, with “What mother would miss her daughter’s… oh” moment, Mom going into labor with Penny). Audience realizes the Mom is dying.

Episode 19: Marshall becomes Fudge Supreme, and he and Lily fight over who has to do childcare stuff since they are both so busy now with their careers; the parents swoop in to help. Meanwhile in flash-forwards: Barney adjusting to life as a Dad, getting advice from Lily and Marshall and from Ted and the Mom. Carl the bartender and his kid make a brief appearance to teach Barney an important lesson.

Episode 20: Why it took them 7 years to get married. Something about Ted learning that he was approaching romance as a big-gestures thing and he learned it’s actually the little day-to-day moments that matter. Ends with Ted’s second proposal & their wedding.

Episode 21 & 22 (the finale): The mother & Ted deal with her illness. All their friends rally around them. Robin takes an anchor job in New York to be close to Ted and help him and his family. She tells him that after more than a decade of travel, she’s at the top of her field and can work anywhere she wants, and she misses New York and her “family” (she means the group). We see Lily & Marshall’s kids helping to babysit young Penny and Luke (and so we get a sense of the six years in between them and the present-day kids being told the story) and Barney’s daughter. The mother dies. Ted realizes he never told the kids about meeting her for the first time. In flashbacks, Ted talks to the Mom on the train platform. It goes exactly as filmed because that was fucking perfect. “And that’s how I met your mother…” The credits roll. Epilogue: exactly as in the actual finale, the kids observe that the story was more about Aunt Robin and encourage him to see her, it’s been 6 years, etc. Ends with the blue French horn scene.

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