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How I Met Your Mother S09E22: "The End of the Aisle


The decision to set the final season of How I Met Your Mother entirely at Robin and Barney's wedding has been a strange and often challenging adventure. Some episodes have been better than others. Sometimes the flashbacks and flash-forwards have worked, and sometimes they haven't. But I've definitely come away with the impression that the journey is sometimes more important than the destination itself. This is a point I made a few weeks ago when discussing "Vesuvius," but this week, as Robin and Barney finally said their vows, it became blatantly obvious that we were witnessing a monumental moment in these characters' lives, and we've spent months hanging out with them as they prepared for it, and then it was over in the span of a few minutes. 

That's not a complaint, by the way; it's merely an observation of the situation. And it's an observation about life itself. We can spend months and weeks and hours preparing ourselves for the biggest moments of our lives, but at the end of the day they're still just fleeting moments, stories we'll later tell our friends (or children). It takes more time to nuke a burrito than it did for Robin and Barney to pledge their love to one another. It doesn't make that moment any less important or special, it just means that before it occurred, they weren't married, and now they are. This wedding has been dictating the path of the show for years now, ever since we saw the flash-forward to Robin in a wedding dress, and again when it was revealed that Barney was the groom. This was a moment many fans have been waiting for; It signaled the end of Robin and Ted, it signaled the beginning of a new chapter for both Robin and Barney, and it also meant that dammit, Ted's about to meet the Mother!


This is both an exciting moment and a very sad moment for How I Met Your Mother, because once 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. Because all of those stories were necessary for Ted to be able to turn Robin down as she panicked about marrying Barney. She wasn't wrong when she told Ted that her relationship with Barney has been built on lies, but she also wasn't wrong in marrying him either, because if I may quote another famous character played by Alyson Hannigan, "Love makes you do the wacky." 

It's true that love is a nonsensical thing, but Ted was right in that it's kind of all we've got. "Love's the best thing we do," he said. Ted's a great guy, but was he the right guy for Robin? He stole her a blue french horn, and he went through hell to find her locket, but she loved Barney and nothing was going to change that. Knowing that the horrible incident of Robin floating away happened weeks ago in our timeline, but less than 24 hours ago in Ted's, it did feel a bit hollow to have him say he doesn't love her like that anymore, but at the same time, it makes complete sense. Robin has been Ted's idea of a perfect woman for years now, but that's all she ever was: an idea. She was a representation of everything Ted thought he wanted, but we've known all along she wasn't the Mother. In a way, that's what's made Ted's journey so frustrating all these years: We've had the privilege of watching this story unfold, already knowing the truth about Ted's relationship with Robin. But Ted never knew. He'd yet to live it.


There's a reason people warn us to be careful what we wish for. Wishes and dreams are built and can only exist in a perfect world, which is clearly not where we live or where the gang lives. Marshall and Lily pledged their vows to each other in 2007 and broke some of them within the span of a month or two (the bearded Wonder Woman incident!). Vows aren't necessarily made to be broken, but they can, and probably should, change over time as we also change. Ted evolved over the course of nine years, only he was the last person to realize it. And it took Robin wondering if she was making the wrong decision marrying Barney that in turn made Ted realize Robin's not who he wants anymore. Maybe 2005 Ted thought she was the perfect woman, but she's not—at least not for Ted—and it took him staring down the possibility of being with Robin and hearing those words to fully realize that. For a guy who fancies himself a detective, he's really pretty bad at figuring out the mystery of his life and his heart. But now that he can say he really has moved on from Robin, he'll be ready when he meets the Mother on the train platform.


Robin and Barney finally tied the knot this week, just as we all knew they would, and this episode that afforded us a sweet, lovely ceremony that included a ring bear, a cut-at-the-last-second flower gorilla, and an instrumental version of "Sandcastles in the Sand" as Robin walked down the aisle. But more importantly, it included the final slap. It made sense that there was no build-up to it, that Marshall used it to snap Barney out of his own panic attack. Much like the actual wedding, it was but a small moment in the larger overarching narrative of How I Met Your Mother. So much has been made of the slaps, and of the Mother, and of the really big moments, that I liked that it just... happened. That's basically what life is—a collection of happenings, like Robin meeting the Mother during her dash away from the wedding. And now Ted's the only one who hasn't met her, which I suppose is a good thing since the series finale airs next week. I guess it's about time to wrap this thing up, eh?



NOTES


– You should know that CBS's official caption for the above photo is simply, "A wedding guest." 

– <3 Patrice

– I'd high-five Marshall for each and every one of those "vow" puns. I've got your back, Marshmallow.

– There's a lot to be said about how far Ted is willing to go for his friends. I kind of believe that while the locket was an isolated incident, and could've only happened with Robin, Ted would have done similar things for each of his friends, because that's what friends do when they love and care about you. 

– I know that a lot of people dislike Barney and the Robin and Barney relationship, but Barney has actually changed quite a bit from the man we first met in the How I Met Your Mother pilot. He was a horn dog, and in a way, he still is, but he does love and care about Robin, and I think they're a good match for each other.


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Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 3/31/2014

Season 9 : Episode 24

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