(Courtney is unfortunately preoccupied today, so I will be discussing the penultimate episode of How I Met Your Mother. Courtney is also probably going to hate this post.)
In last night’s final episode before next week’s hour-long finale, Barney and Robin finally said ‘I do,’ complete with ring bearer and the delivery of the final payment on Marshall’s slap bet with Barney. But here’s the thing about last night’s episode that I found troubling: It was less about the celebration of Barney and Robin’s wedding, and more about what a perfect couple Lily and Marshall are, and more troubling, it was more about Ted and Robin. Again.
I think that Barney’s one wedding vow was sadly telling: It wasn’t, “I will always love you,” and it wasn’t, “I will always be there for you,’ and it wasn’t a promise to stay together forever. It was a promise to always be honest. It’s a sweet vow, but not a particularly romantic one, and my concern in looking ahead to next week’s finale is that Barney’s vow of honesty will lead him ultimately away from Robin and toward his own nature. Barney Stinson cannot be tamed.
How I Met Your Mother may be a nine-season story about how Ted met the mother of his children, but I think that ultimately, it’s the story of how Ted and Robin finally ended up together. The central focus of Ted’s romantic life has always revolved around Robin. He’s either been in a relationship with Robin, or he’s wanted to be in a relationship with Robin, or his best friend has been in the way of his relationship with Robin. But it’s always been about Robin.
Ted found the locket. Barney didn’t even look. That has to mean something. The fact that Robin was even considering marrying Ted minutes before she was set to walk down the aisle with Barney should probably suggest also that Barney and Robin weren’t ultimately meant to be, whether it’s what the audience wants or not. How many episodes have been devoted to Ted trying to get over Robin and failing? How many girlfriends has Ted lost because of Robin?
Ted’s going to meet the Mother, of course. And they’re going to have a happy life together for 10 or 15 years. They’re going to have two children. And their story will be a beautiful one, but it won’t be the epic love story of Ted and Robin, who managed an on-again, off-again relationship for a decade, two marriages, a divorce, and the death of a spouse before they finally find each other in their middle-aged years. It may not be the ending we want, but I think it’s the ending we’re going to get. I also think that somehow, Carter Bays and Craig Thomas are going to make it work in a way that’s honest and respectful of the characters and in a way that respects the allocation of time spent on Ted and Robin throughout the course of nine seasons. Accepting it now will make the finale much easier to swallow.
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