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HIMYM: Thoughts on Romeward Bound


Let’s get down to “Romeward Bound” (S8E21). Spoilers abound here! My initial reaction to the Lily and Marshall part of this episode was negative, until I realized that was more about me than them. I personally do not like show endings where characters all go their separate ways. I want them all to stay in the same place, stay best friends forever, and stay involved in one another’s lives. I like to be able to pretend that they are still existing in their original universe, I guess.

So the idea of Lily and Marshall moving to Rome is not appealing to me at all. Especially if it was planned as their final destination once the show ended. Others have guessed that season 9 will begin with them returning from Rome, which I suppose I’m alright with. My personal priorities also impact why I want them to stay in New York. My first thought was, well, if I were Lily, I wouldn’t want to take Marv so far away from his grandparents and godparents. A year is a long time in the life of a baby, and I wouldn’t want to miss sharing those moments with my family. But Lily obviously needs a fulfilling career, so I can’t fault this particular plotline.

Marshall playing Godfather II in Little Italy was pretty glorious. And his one Italian phrase was masterfully used to demonstrate the Lily and Marshall connection. It may be their psychic link, or their soulmate status, but it’s always nice when they show how totally in sync those two are with each other.

Okay, let’s move on the puffy-coat wearing elephant in the room. Major Barney and Ted friction last night! I don’t want to recap the whole scenario here, but essentially Ted observes/participates as Barney exercises his right to look but not touch other women. When Robin arrives, she is seemingly comfortable with the situation, but Ted has his doubts. Here’s the most important dialogue of the evening:

Ted: Okay, can I just say something as your best man? Be careful.

Barney: What do you mean?

Ted: You just…you haven’t been acting like a guy who’s about to get married. And I know think it’s okay, because Robins so cool, but I’m telling you – she’s not as cool as you think she is.

Barney: Oh, I see… and you’d know this because you know Robin better than I do? You know what she appreciates  better than her own fiance?

Ted: I’m just saying, if I was getting married in three weeks…

Barney: But you’re not getting married in three weeks Ted. I am. Robins marrying me, not you.

Ted: You’re right, not my place. Why don’t I get the next round?

First of all – that was way harsh, Tai. Barney might as well have called Ted a virgin that can’t drive. Second, it seems that there are two ways that people are perceiving this scene – as Ted being a douche, or as Barney being a jerk.

I lean more towards Barney being a jerk in this instance. I think that Ted is over Robin – or at least on his way there. I don’t think he wants to be with her so much as the general idea of her. Like how I wish I had a husband just like my best friend’s husband, because he’s awesome, but I don’t actually want HIM at all. I’m not sure that Ted even realizes it yet, but I think he is clinging to the idea of Robin as comfort while he’s single.

Like they say, sometimes you have to get under someone else (multiple someone elses, even) to get over someone else. And when you’re single and hopeless, your mind naturally goes back to the one that you thought was “the one” – because the pain of having lost them is somehow more tolerable than the pain of knowing you will be alone forever because there’s no one out there for you. (See: this poem I wrote) :)

Even if Ted does still have feelings for her, I don’t see him with nefarious intentions. Ted may dramatically suffer through his perceived loss of a potential soulmate, but he wouldn’t try to ruin Barney and Robin’s relationship. If anything, he would help their relationship as much as possible, so he can later feel that he did the right and noble thing. Just like he did when he told Robin about Barney proposing to Patrice.

What is very likely, however, is Barney being jealous. We know that Barney is 100% confident in his looks, his humor, his ability to pick up ladies, etc. But there’s one area that Barney KNOWS he isn’t proficient in, and that’s being a good boyfriend. His only other relationships – including his past with Robin – have not ended well. Beyond that, Barney isn’t even necessarily the resident expert on Robin. Barney hasn’t forgotten that Ted had to teach him how to be Robin’s boyfriend. Of course Barney still feels the sting of that now.

Plus, Barney has never had a stable adult relationship that he can learn from. So I think that Barney is well aware of his deficiencies in this one area that Ted happens to excel at. Plus, Ted had Robin first, and that’s always going to be a thorn in Barney’s side. Beyond that, Barney is always in competition with someone over something. He’s not a very good winner, either, as he tends to lord his success over others. He even said (when he thought that Robin had hired the wedding planner as the 3rd party for a threesome) that he wanted to rub Ted’s face in it when he won the belt.

So I get the impression that Barney is passive aggressively lashing out at Ted in any way he can, just to make himself feel better. If he can stomp Ted down far enough, maybe Ted won’t be a threat to Barney’s happiness with Robin. It doesn’t matter that Robin isn’t into Ted – it isn’t really about Robin at all, in my opinion. It’s about Barney feeling insecure because he has let himself be vulnerable, let this woman into his heart – all while his best friend seemingly has everything that is required to be a successful husband.

So Barney is (in my opinion) afraid of losing Robin, because he loves her so much, but he doesn’t know if he is actually capable of being a good husband. And he is afraid that Robin will look back and compare him to Ted, the only other man who she’s ever even talked about marrying. So when Ted calls him out on the one insecurity he has – his inability to be what Robin deserves – Barney overreacts. Barney isn’t so much mad at Ted as he is mad at himself.

Ted wasn’t out of line – had Marshall or Lily said the exact same thing, Barney probably would have been able to process it better. As the best man, Ted’s job is to make sure the wedding happens…and the wedding might not happen if Barney can’t get past this phase. So Ted offered up a suggestion that would have been applicable if Barney was marrying any woman, not just Robin. I think Robin has accepted Barney for who he is, but that doesn’t mean she always wants to hear about it. We saw how painful it was for her to hear about his post-breakup conquests the first time around – she isn’t immune to feelings at all. Plus, she’s letting herself become extremely vulnerable to Barney by marrying him. The onus isn’t on her to “be cool”; it’s on Barney to prove that he can man up and be a husband.

Now, that being said, I think Robin and Barney’s sex life is particularly important. We see Robin surprise Barney when he comes home and finds her clad in only a puffy coat. Robin and Barney are absolutely freakier in the bedroom – and out of the bedroom – than Robin and Ted ever were. So while Ted perhaps cannot fathom this encounter being okay with Robin, Robin can see it as inspiration for intimacy with Barney. In that respect, Ted does not know Robin better than Barney does.

Some have said that Robin was rewarding Barney for looking but not touching. I don’t think it’s even that complicated. I think Robin is a smart woman with a strong sex drive. I’m not an expert, but this seems like the exact right way to handle such a situation. Don’t give him a reason to stray, because he’s getting his fantasies fulfilled with you. And I bet Robin thoroughly enjoyed the sexy scenario right along with Barney. It’s part of why they’re so well matched!

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