HIMYM Episode Review: S9E22 “The End of the Aisle”

32minutes

Well that was quite the jam-packed episode, eh? We begin a mere 32 minutes away from the wedding. Even though they’ve been advertising this week as the actual wedding I still didn’t think we would see it. But they made it down the aisle, and a whole plethora of lingering issues have been dealt with.

Let’s get this party started… Robin is freaking out, finally. Freaking out for real. This is important because we needed to see her address obvious concerns about Barney as a husband in order to accept their marriage as a real, well deserved ending that rings true.

Robin does what she always does when she panics – she returns (re-returns, really) to Ted. Ted is her unchallenging safety net, and this is the perfect time for her to desperately want exactly that. Ted won’t help her, explaining that he refuses to be a part of a third runaway bride scenario. Good call, Ted. But then Robin brings up the locket. That effing locket has been bothering me all season and I imagine it’s been burning a proverbial hole in Ted’s pocket also. Robin says, “I want to be with the guy that comes through for me”, and Ted had his perfect chance to sweep her off her feet. He could have tried to swoop in and save the day, turning the odds in his favor, but he didn’t.

Did we really expect him to? Not really, because at this point we know that he has to get over Robin in order to be in the right mental/emotional/life place to meet The Mother. But if this were a movie, with no The Mother, this is when leading man Ted would have rescued leading lady Robin from the charming villain she’s about to incorrectly marry. Obviously this show isn’t following that movie format, but they’ve dangled that remote possibility over our heads for a looong time now. Luckily, Ted dashes out to give Barney the locket, thus doing the right thing.

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Really at this point there’s no way for Ted to do the actual right thing, because the right thing is NOT putting all that time and energy into finding a hugely symbolic piece of jewelry for his best friend’s fiancé. (I know Marshall is technically Ted’s best friend, but let’s let The Barnacle have this on his special day, okay? I mean, just be cool for once, okay?) Through his own machinations Ted has ended up at a weird place where he can only do the least wrong thing. Unlike past times, however, Ted actually did just that. He sees Barney give Robin the locket, and all should be well. The day is seemingly saved!

Next we see Lily and Marshall interrupting Barney as he writes his wedding vows. Apparently he’s been working on them for weeks, which is sweet and (once we hear some of the vows) a bit disturbing. Lily suggests that Barney get help from them, because her and Marshall are “two expert vow consultants”. Too bad that’s not accurate – we learned in “The Best Burger in New York” (S4E2) that Marshall got his wedding vows off the internet. I guess we have to let that little discrepancy slide though.

Generally I enjoy puns, but Marshall’s in-vow-luntary set of vow puns was a bit much. That being said, I will be saving “Vowza!” for my own wedding, whenever it may be. Sometimes we see really authentic chemistry between Aly and Jason in scenes where they bicker a little, and this was one of them. Lily saying “We’re just not enjoying them, honey” was one little sentence that felt especially real.

When we jump back to Robin, there’s a problem. Ted has come to check on her, but the locket plan has gone awry. Robin knows these guys too well, and she knows that Barney should have a legendary story that explains how he managed to find the locket. Ted tries to bluff with a pretty decently Barneyish explanation about wrestling the necklace from baby birds (who he still feeds every day) but Robin ain’t buying it. She’s always been a better detective than Ted and today is no exception. She reveals that Barney said he found it in Lily and Marshall’s basement, but the damage is done. Also I think the only basement that those two ever had was at the house in the suburbs and there may still be a fully active colony of bees in there, so that’s another point against Barney’s lie.

Robin demands something of Ted that she doesn’t often want from him – the truth. He plays the whole necklace hunt off as fun jaunt that had him home in time for Jeopardy – “ease to the pease, happy wedding”, but again, Robin isn’t buying it. Barney’s initials may be B.S. but Ted was laying it on pretty thick there. She shuts the door so it’s just her and Ted in the room, and the scene ends.

Next up is Barney challenging Lily and Marshall’s wedding vows. He targets standard wedding vows like “in sickness and in health” with funny stories from their past. Can anyone confirm for me if those L & M wedding vow scenes were actually filmed way back in season 2? They both looked young, and Alyson’s teeth weren’t as straight. She had those invisible braces for a while and her teeth have looked different ever since, but in these scenes they seemed to be the old way. She (Alyson Hannigan) turned 40 the day that this episode aired, so really good for her either way. She looks good!

When we cut back to Ted and Robin, they’re gearing up for the most important conversation of their entire relationship. Robin tells Ted “You always go big for me”, and in many ways that’s true. Ted reminds her of Barney’s epic proposal, and his surprise Canadian ice rink rehearsal dinner. The rest of the conversation is so big that I couldn’t do it justice by just including a couple quotes. I’ve transcribed the whole thing and copied it below, along with my thoughts:

Robin: Those are the most loving things that Barney has ever done for me, and they’re all based on lies. Right down to taking credit for this locket. Everything’s legendary, but you know what legendary means? Not. Real.

Well, yes, Robin, they are based on lies. This is not new information about Barney, but it’s understandable that she’s focusing on it right now. I disagree with her assertion that legendary means “not real”. Barney has used legendary as a phrase for everything he’s trying to make real – all of his best memories and greatest adventures carry that title. But we have seen how Robin has changed him from someone who is always legend….waiting for it, to someone that is legendary, period. Robin has opened him up to experiencing what is legendary about real life, and that’s a huge component of their relationship. Barney’s life is legendary, but only with Robin in it.

Robin: You’re the one who always comes through for me, Ted. The one who’s there for me. Maybe I’m making a mistake.

Ted: Wait – what are you saying?

The agony on Ted’s face here is subtle but well played. This is all he has wanted to hear for so long, but suddenly it’s the last thing he wants to hear. This pivotal moment was a necessary challenge for him to overcome, so that he – and we – can believe that he is ready to meet The Mother. Not just ready to meet her, but ready to deserve her.

Robin: Maybe I should be marrying you.

-cut to commercial, we all die inside temporarily-

Robin: Ted, I should be with you.

Narrator: There it was. The words that some deep dark part of me always wanted to hear. But it’s funny. Once you actually hear the words out loud…

Ted: I don’t want to hear that.

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Robin panics here, and wants to run away, but Ted knows that she is just scared. He also knows that this has nothing to do with him, and everything to do with Robin and Barney. So good job keeping things on track here Ted!

Ted: I am not your future – Barney is.

Robin: Shouldn’t I be with the guy who finds me my locket? The guy who steals me the blue French horn? I mean, look me in eye and tell me why I shouldn’t be with that guy?

We know the answer to this question just as well as Robin does. Ted was utterly sincere in each of his grand gestures, but they are just that – gestures. His big romantic moves for the women in his life are essentially gimmicks. I know that he doesn’t feel that way, and his intentions were always just to express his love. But I think these were really just ways for Ted to feel like he was the perfect guy, doing everything right. The gestures were great, but romance forges a false sense of intimacy when it isn’t grounded in true love, commitment, chemistry, and hard work. Ted is good at the big moves, but Barney is the one that is good for Robin’s real life.

Ted: Because I’m not that guy anymore.

Since when, Ted? Since yesterday? Let’s be real here!

Robin: Then why did you work so hard to find me my locket?

Ted: It was a wedding gift – Robin: Ted, stop it – I know you better than that. This is more than a wedding gift!

Ted: Maybe it started out that way. Maybe some part of me thought…

Robin: That you still loved me.

Ted: Maybe. But the truth is, I don’t love you like that anymore. And you don’t love me. You love Barney. And if you think that I would ever be a part of screwing that up then maybe you don’t know me at all.

Okay Ted, slow your roll. That’s high and mighty and all but again, let’s be real here. Recently – real recently, as in less than a week ago, in your universe – you went out of your way to acquire this locket for a woman that is not your fiancé. I’m sorry but that is really clearly Ted being “a part of screwing that up”. So yeah, Ted’s in denial still. We probably are too. It’s hard to believe Ted this time, when we have had So. Many. Other. Times when he was over Robin. Since we’ve pretty much run out of time, though, I guess we can trust that this one is legit.

Robin: I can’t shake it. I can’t shake this feeling that nothing about me and Barney makes any sense.

Ted: But love doesn’t make sense. You can’t logic your way into or out of it. Love is totally nonsensical. But we have to keep doing it, or else we’re lost and love is dead and humanity should just pack it in. Because love is the best thing we do. I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s just true. You love Barney and he loves you and that doesn’t have to make sense to make sense.

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FYI I heard those last few lines to the tune of REO Speedwagon “Keep On Loving You” :)

Heavy stuff, huh? It felt odd jumping back over to Lily and Marshall after such an intense moment. Those two are lamenting the loss of their halcyon days past, when there was mystery and romance in their relationship and not just an open bathroom door and Sunday breakfast being flung across the house. Back then it was somewhat like Robin suggested in “3 Days of Snow” (S4E13) – Lily and Marshall were basically playing house. They were still in their honeymoon phase, but now they’ve emerged on the other side of conflict as a stronger couple.

Okay, so Ted thinks he has gotten through to Robin. Crisis averted! Major relief. (Major relief – salute) But Robin is still tripping out. She shows off her Agent of SHIELD skills in this scene. She fakes like she’s going to sit down, then dodges right past Ted and grabs the key to the room. She whirls out of the room, whips her veil out of the way and locks Ted in behind her, all in one smooth motion. She sprints away and it seems like she’s gonna make it – she even has her heels in her hand. That’s pro status runaway bride stuff there. But then fate intervenes, and she (literally) runs into The Mother. Finally, they’ve met!

We take a break from that action to check in on Lily and Marshall. Marshall has brought Lily to the church early, so they can exchange new vows before the actual wedding begins. The new set of vows is an excellent idea and I was definitely crying when Marshall said:

I vow to keep updating them as we go. Because one set of vows, it can’t cover a lifetime of growing, and changing with you, and raising children with you…and falling more and more in love with you every day, Lily Aldrin, which is what I vow to do for the rest of my life.

We fans needed this just as much as they did. This was the writer’s way of confirming that they will be okay. They will end up together, of course, but they will also end up happy. There was a big risk of them ending up in a strained marriage, full of resentment, but they just missed it. “Daisy” (S9E22) set all of this up, but this episode was necessary to really secure it together.

We finally get to the much advertised scene where Robin and The Mother actually converse with one another. The Mother asks if something is wrong, because she can see that a bride running away is usually not good, and also “as a kid I was a bit of a detective”. Groan. I get that we need to see how Ted and The Mother are a perfect match but it’s getting a bit silly when they perfectly quote each other prior to ever meeting. I guess maybe they are just that couple that is so annoyingly in synch you can’t really be annoyed with them for too long. This next conversation was lovely and so I forgive them for the whole kid detective thing…

Robin: To be honest, I’m wondering if this whole getting married thing is something I can go through with.

The Mother: Oh. Wow.

Robin: That’s it? Aren’t you supposed to talk me out of it? Tell me it’s just cold feet, and I’m being crazy?

The Mother: Okay, during that fall we did kinda get to second base together, and we’ll always share that. But I don’t really know you. So, here’s all I’ll say. When I’m overwhelmed, I force myself to do one simple thing before I have to make a decision: Close my eyes and take three deep breaths.

Robin: Three deep breaths?

The Mother: Sometimes even three deep breaths can change everything.

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What I liked about this conversation is that The Mother didn’t have all the answers. It is one thing for her to dispense wisdom to the douchey guy that hits on her in the mini-mart, but it’s quite another to act all-knowing when the stakes are this high. This scene demonstrates that The Mother has tact and empathy and isn’t that much all up in the business of strangers.

Anyway, Robin takes her deep breaths, and when she opens her eyes – there’s Barney! He says the perfect thing to reassure her and us…

I know it’s bad luck to see the bride right before the ceremony, but I realized something. Marshall and Lily have broken most of their wedding vows, but they’re still the best couple I know. I think their biggest problem was that Marshall didn’t tell Lily the truth. So I’ve decided to make only one vow to you, because it’s the only one that really counts. Robin Scherbatsky, from this day forward, I am always going to be honest with you. Because I love you. I’ll see you up there. Oh – Ted got that locket for you – he’s the one you should thank.

And there we truly see Barney’s redemption.

Barney steps away, but Robin calls him back, and they kiss. This scene was beautifully done, and it echoed Lily and Marshall’s wedding in the best way. Their first ceremony (technically it was the 2nd ceremony for those two, since they had that brief boat marriage in Atlantic City, but whatever) outside was the one that really counted. It was the one that had heart, and their very closest friends made it happen. Here, Robin and Barney have a similar moment, complete with vows and a kiss, made possible by their closest friends.

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I was annoyed that we didn’t get to see the entire wedding, but that pre-ceremony moment was the important part that we didn’t even know we actually needed. What little we did see of the wedding was great – adorable ring bear (You mean ring bearer? Yeah, ring bear), flower gorilla off in the wings, and best of all, the bride walking down the aisle to an instrumental version of Sandcastles in the Sand. The song they first kissed to! I might be crying again just thinking about it. I would have loved to hear every word, but alas, it wasn’t in the cards.

I can’t close this out without addressing the ridiculousness that has been season 9. There have been some A. Ma. Zing. episodes this season, don’t get me wrong. But we have dealt with some real doozies, too, and the ratio hasn’t been favorable. They spread a bunch of unimportant, marginally funny stuff throughout the season and then saved all of this important, relevant, actually interesting stuff – stuff with real heart – to jam pack into the very last few episodes.

(Speaking of jam, what’s the difference between peanut butter and jam? If anyone doesn’t know the answer to that by now I’m sure some of the fellas in the peanut gallery would be happy to explain. We sure did have some fun with that whole tattoo/birthday sex position discussion, didn’t we?)

So it’s annoying that this episode had a million important things in it that perhaps could be have been better utilized elsewhere. I understand that many of these things apparently needed to happen right before the wedding – for example, the whole business with the locket – but this whole season is right before the wedding! It’s not like partially resolving the locket a month ago would have actually impacted the timeline that much. So Robin freaks out about her necklace 3 hours before the wedding versus 30 minutes before, does it really matter?

Point being that I would have liked to have seen much more time devoted to these big picture issues, and less time devoted to Barney crawling through air ducts, or Robin in a purple unitard, or Ted dragging around that horrible Cassie girl, or Ranjit kidnapping Barney’s stepmom. Know what I mean? If eliminating stuff like that meant that we could see (and hear!) the whole wedding I would have gladly made that trade.

Narrator Ted’s closing statement to the kids is everything you hoped and expected:

It was a twisting, turning road that led to the end of the aisle, and not everything along the was perfect. To be honest, not everything to follow would be perfect either. But what is? Here’s the secret, kids: None of us can vow to be perfect. In the end, all we can do is promise to love each other with everything we’ve got. Because love is the best thing we do. And on that lovely spring evening, that’s exactly what Barney and Robin vowed to each other. And it was legendary.

This further proves that Robin was incorrect about “legendary”. The wedding ended up being authentic, and that’s what made it legendary. Robin and Barney each went into this Friday Night Lights style – clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose. What could be more legendary than that? (Hopefully Ted and The Mother’s wedding, which we hopefully see next week or else I will cut a bitch out of pure fury) (Sorry for that rant I promise I won’t actually cut anyone)

Reposted with permission from Ted-Mosby.com

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14 thoughts on “HIMYM Episode Review: S9E22 “The End of the Aisle”

  1. Corina-love your review, you did an amazing job. I enjoyed reliving the episode through your summary. You really made me laugh and touched on some key points that I appreciate:) I have been thinking that maybe Ted is telling this story because Penny and Luke just picked up on the fact that he and the mother were not married until after Penny was born. And he wants to explain how it all happened. Just a thought. (Or maybe I am still looking for answers on that whole timeline). Anyhow really looking forward tomorrow night!

    • I’m still pretty stuck on that being why Ted told the story. It makes a lot of sense and it clears up so much confusion that we now only have one hour (less commercials) to deal with. That’s a good reason to tell your kids why you got married, you know? Because otherwise they would assume it was out of necessity, but really it’s this grand love story they never even realized. We shall see!

      • It does make sense! But like you said, we shall see! Going to take some time to read your latest post this afternoon & I am preparing mentally for tonight! I can’t believe how much I will miss this show but also how excited I am for tonight!! Looking forward to your review. Have a blast watching!!!!

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