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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

How I Met Your Mother 9x22: The End of the Aisle


What's worse: a narrative blithely ignoring a flaw in its structure, trundling along, refusing to give voice to the problem, or a narrative which at least acknowledges an issue, but then attempts to resolve it in a relatively slapdash way?

The main thrust of this episode, which returns us to the "Robin freak out" part of the wedding weekend to which we flashforwarded last season (which prompted Ted to tell us the tale of breaking Victoria out of the same church at her wedding), has Robin finally putting to words what anyone watching the show realized long ago: Barney lies a lot, and even his biggest romantic gestures to Robin were built around hideously elaborate lies. It's good to know that Robin has realized this, and it's good to see the show's writers acknowledge it as well.

This prompts Robin to run off, right into the Mother. To her (and the show's credit), the Mother doesn't miraculously talk Robin out of fleeing her wedding: she just tells her to at least stop and take some deep breaths before making a big decision (it's the kind of advice you could plausibly get from a stranger at your wedding whom you just ran into, and not the kind of advice you get from your best friend's future wife, so I appreciate the restraint). This allows Barney the time to catch up with her and and unknowingly tell her exactly what she needs to hear: that he will never lie to her again.

So to the show's credit, they're addressing this big flaw in the relationship of the two characters around whom this season is built, and they're offering up a means to move past it. I can't chide them that. How well it works, well, your mileage will vary. It certainly works better in-story then out: I can buy Robin buying it, being she's invested in buying it. Of course, I find it hard to believe Barney won't ever lie again, but that's the beauty of having him make that declaration one episode from the end of the series: we won't ever be able to know for sure. And having him immediately follow it up by coming clean about the locket, without knowing that Robin already knows the truth, was an effective way to sell the idea in the moment.

You may argue that it's too little, too late, and I'd be hard pressed to disagree, but I at least appreciate the show making the effort. Acknowledging within the narrative the fact that Barney and Robin's relationship is built on some pretty heinous lies is good; that it comes far too long after we've repeatedly been told how deep and meaningful and awesome that relationship is despite much evidence to the contrary is more a fault of the series as a whole than this episode in particular.

Other Thoughts
Also to the show's credit, they stuck to the idea that Ted has let go of Robin, even in the face of an opening to run off with her (and his refusal to do so was specifically because he didn't love her like that anymore, not because he couldn't do that to Barney, etc.). Again, it's pretty ludicrous that Ted let her go only hours before both Robin's wedding and meeting the love of his life, but that's not this episode's problem.

But seriously though, Ted, you jumped into the lake for that locket? Ridiculous.

I really didn't like the fact that Barney initially lied to Robin about finding the locket - I immediately thought, "great, the only reason their wedding is even going to happen is because of another lie" - so I'm glad the episode made a point of having him come clean about it of his own volition.

I found most of the Marshall/Lily/Barney vow stuff pretty funny, particularly Marshall's refusal to let the vow puns die. The bed-in-breakfast sequence cracked me and Mrs. Teebore the hell up, as did flashback Lily asserting that her "deuces are wild".

And the scene in which Lily and Marshall renewed their vows was a nice reminder that, as much as the plot of this series involves Ted finding The One and that the final season is built around Barney and Robin's wedding, Lily and Marshall have always been the heart of the series. I also appreciated that their whole "new vow" thing was just something they did, and not an actual ceremony with an officiant, guests, etc. 

As much as I love The Mosby Boys as a recurring bit, the fact that the Mother fancied herself something of a detective as a child is one of the more egregious "oh my god, Ted and the Mother are just like each other" bits. 

I was a little surprised we actually got to the wedding in this episode; I figured they'd hold that for the finale. And hey, as sitcom weddings go, ring bear aside, that was a pleasantly straightforward ceremony. I mean, the run-up to it couldn't have been more sitcom-y, but the actual wedding was nicely restrained.

I've never been as invested in the slap bet as some, but the doling out of the final slap worked for me.  

So the Mother has now met everyone except Ted. I'm still curious how Ted will avoid meeting her at the reception, unless Bays and Thomas tighten their literal definition of "meet" enough to at least allow him to see her (and perhaps be intrigued by her) at the reception, even if he doesn't formally meet her until the train station.

5 comments:

  1. This episode had its moment, but the whole Barney/Robin relationship is so flawed that trying to fix it in the third-to-last episode of the series (and 30 minutes until the wedding in-series) is just too much to ask. I do appreciate the effort...I guess.

    "The main thrust of this episode, which returns us to the "Robin freak out" part of the wedding"

    I understand people get cold feet before a wedding. But there's a difference between "Is this absolutely the right decisions" and "I want to marry my on-again-off-again boyfriend who is right in front of me and I was once in love with instead of the groom." At that point, you really need to reevaluate everything and probably shouldn't be getting married.

    "This allows Barney the time to catch up with her and and unknowingly tell her exactly what she needs to hear: that he will never lie to her again."

    Listen, one thing I know is that it's always always a wise decision to marry someone and expect them to change post wedding.

    I mean, I suppose, he vowed to change 30 minutes before the wedding but the world has been filled with people who sincerely vow to change and don't. One truth wouldn't be enough to convince me a person is suddenly completely trustworthy. Seriously, my advice to anyone who will listen, make sure you're prepared to marry the person your fiance is at that moment. Don't marry them for the person you're expecting them to be in the future. Marriage doesn't fix or change anything. It just solidifies it.

    "Again, it's pretty ludicrous that Ted let her go only hours before both Robin's wedding and meeting the love of his life, but that's not this episode's problem."

    I do have a problem with Ted's speech to Robin. I know it's standard sitcom/RomCom/what-have-you fare and it's certainly not unique to How I Met Your Mother but the whole, "Love is crazy. Love doesn't have to make sense. Love conquers all!" stuff tends to get on my nerves (depending on the situation).

    We're not talking about a Red Sox fan marrying a Yankees fan here. Barney has a serious issue that could seriously inhibit Robin's ability to trust in him. Trust is the foundation of any good relationship.

    It is possible for someone to love the wrong person. It is possible for someone to love someone who is flat out bad for them. Sometimes, it's for the best to not be with someone even if the love is there. To quote Patty Smith, sometimes love just ain't enough.

    "I found most of the Marshall/Lily/Barney vow stuff pretty funny."

    I did too, for the most part. But I'm surprised nobody came up with only real vow you need, "I promise to love you for the rest of my life." I mean, I suppose it's a vow as capable of being broken as any other vow, but at least you know if that vow goes then the marriage should probably go too.

    "But seriously though, Ted, you jumped into the lake for that locket? Ridiculous."

    Are you surprised?


    "To her (and the show's credit), the Mother doesn't miraculously talk Robin out of fleeing her wedding"

    I will give the show credit there. She didn't convince Robin she loved Barney despite not knowing either of them. Her advice was realistic.

    "As much as I love The Mosby Boys as a recurring bit, the fact that the Mother fancied herself something of a detective as a child is one of the more egregious "oh my god, Ted and the Mother are just like each other" bits."

    Agreed.

    "I was a little surprised we actually got to the wedding in this episode"

    I am too, but I suppose the reception is the finale and this enables them to focus the final two episodes completely on Ted.

    Oh, and I still am unsure how Robin didn't know who the ringer bearer at her own wedding was going to be.

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  2. @Dr. Bitz: But there's a difference between "Is this absolutely the right decisions" and "I want to marry my on-again-off-again boyfriend who is right in front of me and I was once in love with instead of the groom."

    Or, to put it another way, Barney's seemed more like the usual (if exaggerated for TV) pre-wedding jitters, stressing about vows, worried he's making the right choice, etc. Whereas Robin's jitters speak more to the core of the person she's marrying, and are a little bit more serious.

    Listen, one thing I know is that it's always always a wise decision to marry someone and expect them to change post wedding.

    Hey, after the wedding is when you get in most of the prime person-changing time!

    We're not talking about a Red Sox fan marrying a Yankees fan here.

    Duh. I mean, that's just not possible. :)

    To quote Patty Smith, sometimes love just ain't enough.

    True. *This* show has always taken the more traditional "love is all you need" approach, and at least it's been consistent in that, but there's certainly a good chunk of pop culture out there that argues the opposite. Just not on this show, for better and worse.

    Are you surprised?

    Not at all. It was still ridiculous, though.

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  3. Just watched this last night. After readint this post and comments, I startet thinking -- unless we've been told otherwise -- it would be kind of funny (in a "black comedy" way, of course) if future Ted offhandedly noted in the finale that Robin and Barney divorced a few years later.

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  4. @Matt: it would be kind of funny (in a "black comedy" way, of course) if future Ted offhandedly noted in the finale that Robin and Barney divorced a few years later.

    Ha! There's probably a contingent of the audience that would hate that idea, but it would certainly be more realistic.

    And while we've seen glimpses of Robin and Barney in the future, I'm not sure it's even been made explicit that they COULDN'T have divorced at some point.

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  5. I agree with a lot of what Teebore said and a lot of what Dr. Bitz said. Since the finale is on in 15 minutes, I'll leave it at that, except for this: I kind-of like that Barney and Robin never would've met if not for Ted and that in turn Ted never would've met the Mother if not for Robin and Barney, or at least, given how paths intertwine on this show and how the notion of fate is dangled particularly where the Mother is concerned, I like that it did work out this way.

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