Ho-hum. While How I Met Your Mother Season 8 has given us some of the series’ best moments, it's also suffered from buzzkill episodes at the most unfortunate times. “Romeward Bound” was one such episode, and it really halted the momentum of the show.
Obviously, not every episode of HIMYM can be a mythology-advancing installment. No series can deliver game-changing episode after game-changing episode. When Lost was on the air, fans were constantly driven mad by the table-setting episodes that broke up the action. But HIMYM has served up more than its fair share of table-setting episodes this season, and pretty much the entire middle of Season 8 was lost (no pun intended) to episodes that neither revealed new pieces of the gang’s story nor were very funny.
Before HIMYM took a multi-week break, the show delivered one of its most powerful moments ever at the end of “The Time Travelers.” Ted's Extra 45 Days speech ratcheted up the emotional stakes and even caused fans to question whether the Mother or Ted might be dead in 2030. Granted, it would've been hard to follow that episode with another big piece of the story, but “Romeward Bound” flopped completely.
Stop me if you’ve heard these plotlines at least once in Season 8. Lily questions whether or not she’s made the right life choices. Marshall struggles at his job as a lawyer. Barney does something that causes Robin to question whether he’s really ready for marriage. HIMYM recycled all of those elements in “Romeward Bound,” an episode that must have been pieced together to fill space after HIMYM got a Season 9 pickup.
I can already hear some of you protesting: "But Marshall and Lily decided to move to Rome at the end of the episode! That’s a huge deal! How could that just be a random storyline thrown together to pad out the season? You don’t know what you’re talking about!"
Hold on—let’s talk logic for a moment. In “Romeward Bound,” the Captain informed Lily that he was moving to Rome, Italy, and he wanted her to come with him, so she could be his international art expert. After refusing the offer twice, Lily and Marshall agreed to venture outside of New York City to go to Italy for a year. But that leaves one big problem: With next season being HIMYM’s last, there’s zero chance that Lily and Marshall won't be in New York to watch Ted finally meet his wife. Yes, the showrunners have promised that Season 9 will “look and feel much different,” but I don't believe for a second that Marshall and Lily will be spending it in Italy. This episode may have ended with the couple deciding to make the jump across the pond, but that’s not going to happen. So everything that happened with them this week is basically moot.
But while Marshall and Lily’s plotline didn’t have any real impact, I do have to question what Barney’s story was hinting at. With his and Robin’s wedding only a few weeks away, Barney is still showing signs that his bachelor ways haven’t completely disappeared. When Liddy, Robin and Barney’s wedding planner, met the group at MacLaren’s and showed up in a giant coat that covered up her “redonkulous” body (Ted’s words, not mine), Barney became obsessed with getting her to take off the outerwear. Ted’s warning to Barney to be careful about how he was acting around Robin was met with harsh words. “You’re not getting married in three weeks, Ted. I am. Robin’s marrying me, not you,” Barney said to his best man. Cold.
And that type of moment is possibly why “Is Barney Wearing a Wedding Ring in HIMYM Flashforwards?” has become a popular game for fans to play. Based on Barney’s behavior and Ted’s cautionary words, should we take this game a bit more seriously? We’ve been promised a wedding this season, but we haven't necessarily been promised a marriage. If you’re a supporter of the "Ted and the Mother Get Divorced and Ted Eventually Marries Robin" theory, "Romeward Bound" probably threw some fuel on your fire.
HIMYM is off next week, but we’ll get the final three episodes over three consecutive weeks after that. It’s go-time now, right?
NOTES & QUOTES
– The Captain (Kyle MacLachlan) got a haircut. I think this changes his potential to be frightening.
– Ted described Liddy’s body as “redonkulous,” a term he only used once before, when describing Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol. Great movie, Ted, but if it’s redonkulous, how would you describe Star Wars?
– Marshall’s black-and-white Italian girlfriend promised to move to Minnesota with him and learn his mother’s ham casserole recipe. Wouldn’t Mrs. Eriksen’s seven-layer dip recipe be more enticing? I mean, it has gummy bears in it.
– Barney describing to Ted why it’s okay for him to look at other women: “It’s like birdwatching. And right now, I’m watching a double-breasted... ROBIN!”
– When Ted tried to ask Liddy out, her redonkulous body stunned him. ”Indiana Jones wouldn’t look at this body. This is a body that would melt a Nazi's face.” Barney: “Aw man, I want my face to melt.”
– “Come on, bro. Don’t bogart all the Funyuns.” The only Italian phrase Marshall knows, yet depending on how he says it, it can mean almost anything.