9/05 Right after the end of S1E2 “Purple Giraffe”
The ending begins with a trip back to the beginning, or at least the second episode of the beginning. When S9E2 “Purple Giraffe” left off, Robin was trying to wingman for Ted with Barney’s classic “haaaave you met Ted?” method. She scores him a conversation, but not much else. She also earns indignance from Barney, who can’t believe she is using his own move in his own bar when he’s not there.
When Robin confesses to having no friends, the gang is quick to correct her. Marshall looks downright incredulous as he tells her, no, she has them now. Lily declares that Robin is officially in the gang. “Once you’re in, you’re in for life”
When Robin goes to buy a round, Lily tells Ted and Barney that they can’t bang her unless they marry her. Barney declares her “too rich for my blood”, but the next scene brings us to their wedding reception. Awww.
5/13 Right after S9E22 “The End of the Aisle”
Now we’re back in chronological order, at least for a moment. Ted sees TM and she takes his breath away, but he’s still planning on leaving for Chicago. Barney recognizes TM also, and reminds her of the huge, random role she played in him finally getting the girl. Barney is seriously overwhelmed with excitement when he hears that TM is single. He finally connects that she haaaaaasn’t met Ted yet! But Ted says he has to leave right then, and Barney makes them go outside for last goodbyes.
Ted tells Robin is has been a major pleasure (salute) knowing her, and they share a hug. Marshall jokingly tells Ted that he’s jealous, because Ted can visit Gazola’s Pizza whenever he wants now. The fact that Marshall is going to Rome does not comfort him, pizza-wise. Lily can’t handle the goodbye at first, but then her and Ted have their moment. A hug just isn’t enough, so they share an ET goodbye instead. It ends up being a little creepy, but still sweet.
Ted tries to reconnect with Barney over the infamous licking the Liberty Bell incident, but Barney has plumb forgotten the whole thing. He does a lot of awesome stuff, it has to be hard to keep track. But then Barney panics – who will he high five? This is a pressing issue that Ted and Barney (geniuses they are not) decide to solve with an “Infinity Five”. One high five to capture all of the high fives that ever were and ever could be…it’s a great idea until not one, but both of them hurt their hands. I guess that whole running start wasn’t the smartest plan.
This brings us chronologically up to the Farhampton train station (train platform?), where Ted is relaying the whole wedding story to the random old lady waiting on the bench. She is but one of many random old ladies that have preceded Ted connecting with a potential love match. Old lady wants Ted to go back and get that bass player, but Ted is still set on going to Chicago. So the lady asks, if he got a sign that she was his destiny, would have change his mind? Just like that, TM is right there, yellow umbrella in hand.
24 Hours Later – The evening of Monday, 5/27/14
Lily and Marshall head to MacLaren’s, and reflect on how there’s a whole different vibe without Ted there. But then – surprise! – Ted is still there, just sitting in the booth like nothing ever happened. He casually explains that he met a girl, and that whole Chicago thing is off. Marshall is pissed that Ted has jerked their emotions around, and worried that this is going to be the same old Ted situation again. He and Lily both disapprove of this girl, until they find out it’s the bass player for the wedding. Suddenly they’re back on board, because everyone knows just how awesome that particular girl is.
So Ted doesn’t wait three days, he just calls her right then, 24 hours after meeting her. He asks her out for dinner “tomorrow night”, which should mean their first date is Tuesday but in S9E21 “Gary Blauman” their first date is said to be on the Wednesday 3 days after the wedding. This was the first of many incidents throughout the episode that demonstrated how they don’t really care that much about sticking to their established timelines. That was frustrating, but I’ll put a pin in that topic for a moment.
Marshall assumes the worst when Ted calls too soon, telling Lily:
Why does he keep doing this? He meets ‘em, he likes ‘em way too much, he goes way too big too soon, and he ends up blowing it. I can’t take this anymore. He’s fallen in love so many times now.
Marshall is speaking for all of us now, saying what fans have been saying for years and years. It’s a nice confirmation that yes, this journey has been ridiculous in so many ways.
But Lily sees Ted’s face (and the fact that his phone conversation seems to be going pretty well) and she knows the truth.
Not like this. This is different.
Back to the Farhampton Train Station
Old lady is still pushing Ted to talk to the bass player, and she’s got dreams of singing at his wedding. Ted says he thinks big weddings are a young man’s game, and thinks if he does end up getting married, it will be low-key.
Then we cut straight to Ted planning the most extravagant wedding ever. Barney and Robin arrive at the booth, and there’s obvious tension between them. When Robin steps away, Barney says that things are “great…great, just great”. He uses great a few too many times, which is HIMYM shorthand for not great at all. Robin travels all over the world for her job, and Barney explains “it makes things super difficult for us but it’s great…”
Then TM shows up, and tells Ted sorry, she hasn’t wired the deposit for the castle yet. She further explains that they can’t get married in September, because when she gets married, she wants to fit into her dress. Again, the timeline is totally screwy, but by this point in the episode I’ve given up hope of things making actual sense. I guess we can assume that this scene is set in early 2015, because they haven’t even secured their venue for a wedding happening at the latest nine months away.
So the lighthouse proposal scene did occur before they knew they were pregnant. I guess when the writers said “two years later” from May of 2015 – and later in the scene when Ted says “not two years ago”, again referencing May of 2015, it doesn’t actually mean two years at all. So that’s annoying, but I’m officially giving a point to everyone that I thought was thinking all wrong about the timeline. And minus one point to me for interpreting that literally when it was apparently just something that happened sometime between 1-2 years laterish from May of 2015.
May of 2016
We jump ahead to the whole gang, gathered at the Mosby residence in May of 2016. The whole gang is there, with baby Penny asleep in the other room. We learn that Marshall has gone back to corporate law and he’s beyond miserable, but trying to stay positive. He’s only saying good things about his work, but this is nearly impossible based on how horrible his day to day life sounds. Lily is convinced that he will be offered the judgeship again as a sort of karmic certainty since he turned it down once for her. Marshall doesn’t look like he believes her, but he doesn’t object. He’s really making the effort to be a good sport and appreciate what he has, but the poor guy deserves better than this.
When Barney and Robin are questioned about their recent trip to Argentina, there are again too many “greats” for us to believe it went well. We see the couple fighting in their hotel room, and Robin asks if he would be interested in taking the 3 year exist ramp. This callback to S2E12 “First Time in New York” was a nice touch. Before he responds to that, Barney suggests they go on a sex and drinking bender. That’s how they end up in the wrong hotel room, holding a stranger’s baby. At one point fans thought Barney and Robin had an ease with the baby that implied they had their own child. Now we know they were just comfortable with Penny and Daisy, but they never made a baby together.
When they’re finally (somewhat) sober again, Robin poses the same question. Barney responds “I love you, Robin. And when we got married, I made a vow that I would always tell you the truth.
Back to the Mosby living room, May of 2016
We got divorced.
Oh, hell. I didn’t want to hear that. Not one bit. It’s realistic, sure, but this show has put a whole lot of time and energy into Barney and Robin being a thing. They got me hooked on these two as a couple and now they’re over. It makes the season being set at their wedding weekend even more frustrating, because now that wedding doesn’t even feel like it mattered that much. I mean, yes, it was important in the grand scheme of things. But it wasn’t important the way they made it seem like it would be, and that really bothered me.
Everyone (myself included) is worried that the Barney and Robin divorce will ruin the group, and they won’t hang out anymore. Barney points out that they barely hang as is, what with the Mosby’s in the suburbs and Lily and Marshall working on their third baby. Surprise! Lily is pregnant again. That’s a good thing, because her and Marshall both wanted lots of kids throughout the entire show. Everyone is excited for them, but Lily brings them back to reality:
See, this, this right here. This is why we can’t fall out of each other’s lives. We have to be here for the big moments. Just promise me, no matter what, we will always be there for the big moments.
Robin promises, along with everyone else, and it’s time to do the time warp again…
October 2016, the apartment
Lily is super pregnant, and Marshall returns home from work totally exhausted. They question whether the living situation is working, with Marvin and Daisy sharing a bedroom. Marshall proposes that “when the next one arrives we’ll just put her crib in the shower”. So it’s another girl for Marshmallow and Lilypad! I’m happy for them but also for Judy Eriksen, who had like 47 grandsons before Daisy arrived. And now she gets another granddaughter! I bet Lily is officially her favorite daughter-in-law now. Anyway, Lily and Marshall decide they need to move to a bigger place, and a surprise appearance by the cockamouse validates their decision.
Halloween 2016, rooftop farewell to the apartment party
Robin arrives without costume, but that’s to be expected. She only wore costumes when she was with Barney. L That makes me sad again. She finds Marshall first, and he reveals that his and Lily’s costumes were not his idea. That’s because he is Captain Ahab, and extremely pregnant Lily is in a white whale costume. Barney pops up after scoring a number while in a David Lee Roth costume, and then Robin sees Ted. He’s wearing that horrible, wonderful hanging chad costume again! Marshall speaks for all of us yet again when he says:
It’s gone from played out, to charmingly retro, and back again six or seven times now.
This time, though, the hanging chad has an elderly (I think that’s what she was going for with her costume?) Gore/Lieberman supporter with him. TM is a part of the gang and she doesn’t even mind Ted’s odd Halloween tradition. Then things get weird, because Robin gets A Look. Not just a normal look, see, but A Look. A Look that says longing and regret and sadness. A Look we only see for a second, because then she’s upset and has to leave.
Lily runs into Robin as she makes her getaway, and says Robin has to stay. The whole gang is there! Robin’s response was raw and painful and a long time coming:
Robin: The gang? Do you know who the gang is to me, Lily? Here’s what the gang is: the gang is a married couple who I never see anymore, about to have their third kid. It’s my ex-husband hitting on slutty cops right in front of me. And it’s the guy I probably should have ended up with, with the beautiful mother of his child. Who in their right mind would call that group of people the gang?
Lily: Oh. Oh. So what…this is all just over then? Our whole friendship is just…over?
Robin: No, of course not. We’ll always be friends. It’s just never gonna be how it was. It can’t be, and that doesn’t have to be a sad thing. There’s so much wonderful stuff happening in all of our lives right now. More than enough to be grateful for. But the five of us, hanging out at MacLaren’s, being you and stupid, it’s just not one of those things. That part’s over.
Then Robin leaves, and Lily is all alone, a beached whale in this deserted island of an empty apartment. At this point I’m just hating the show and everything it stands for, because this hurts. This isn’t how I wanted to see them go. It’s too real, and I want a little fake right now. I want them to be the group that stays friends, because that group is so hard to find in real life. A group of friends that drifts apart, doesn’t talk anymore…there’s nothing special about that.
It’s a big night, but just because the crew is getting back together and hanging out like old times. Only half of them are there, though. Lily and Ted are bemoaning how tired they are as parents, and Barney is trying to get them to rally and go big til the early hours of the morning. I guess TM was at home, maybe babysitting all of the Mosby and Eriksen kids? And Robin was MIA, because she’s never around anymore. Marshall shows up and explains that this night is actually more special than they realized. He’s been offered another judgeship! Karma works in his favor and I am temporarily distracted from my frustration, because Marshall deserves this, damnit.
Barney says that the night is all about celebrating their friendship – their family, really – but then he gets distracted by a hot girl. Sounds about right. Lily tries to reel him back in (literally, using his tie as the reel) and asks if he has changed even a little. Barney basically says, no, I haven’t.
If it wasn’t gonna happen with Robin, then it’s just not gonna happen with anyone. I’m never gonna be the guy who meets a girl, and the first time I see her, I’m like (grabs random girl) ‘You are the love of my life. Everything I have and everything I am is yours, forever.’ That’s not me. I’m the guy who straightens his tie, says something dirty, high fives himself and then goes and talks to that girl over there. That’s me. Can I please just be me?
Judge Fudge makes his first official ruling, and says that he’ll allow Barney to proceed.
2019, Robots versus Wrestlers
Ted, TM, Marshall, and Lily are all attending the annual Robots vs. Wrestlers events, just like they said they would. Ted and TM are still not married. Marshall asks if they’re ever going to do it, or if they’re happy just living in sin. Ted explains that life, kids, jobs got in the way, but they’ll get around to it. He jokes that “this one” (TM) insists on getting married in a French castle. TM retorts that she would get married in a White Castle, tomorrow, but Ted says there has to be a wow factor. Sounds about right for these two. Then Barney arrives, looking downright distraught.
Barney reflects on the glory that was his (S5E14) “Perfect Week”, when he scored seven chicks in seven nights. He has decided to up the ante by creating The Playbook II, and going for the Perfect Month. Gross. And sad, as Lily immediately points out. But Barney says he hasn’t gotten to the sad part yet. It turns out that girl #31 is pregnant! Really it was only a matter of time before Barney knocked someone up. The sheer odds were ever in his favor, you know?
2020, New York, by the Goliath National Bank building
Ted is pointing out GNB building fun facts to little Penny, who takes his architectural thoughts very seriously. Out of nowhere, there’s Robin! Penny recognizes her from the bus ad that passes by, but not as an actual friend of the family. Then we jump to a hospital waiting room, where Ted has just finished telling Lily and Marshall about his Robin spotting. Lily is sad that Robin isn’t here for this big event, but Marshall explains that it might be weird if she arrived for the birth of her ex-husband’s love child.
Barney emerges, and you think he’s witnessed the joy of childbirth, but really he was just throwing up in the bathroom. Then the nurse comes out and congratulates him. He is still pushing for the baby to not be his, but she says no, congratulations, it’s a girl. Barney Stinson has a daughter, how crazy is that? It’s crazy and somehow perfect. He’s not all too interested in meeting her, but the nurse puts the baby in Barney’s arms and says, “This is Ellie”. He looks down into her little face and just totally melts. He starts to cry as he tells his baby girl:
You are the love of my life. Everything I have and everything I am is yours, forever.
Then he kisses her forehead, and in that moment we have witnessed the true transformation of Barney. No other woman could do what his own daughter did for him. She pretty much saved his soul, and I love that he had was able to experience that. Barney as a dad is pretty much amazing, and it made me so, so happy.
The Mosby home
Ted comes into the living room and demands that TM give him back her engagement ring. The five year statute of limitations on proposals has passed, and as such he must re-propose. Seven years and two kids later, Ted gets down on one knee and asks her again. She cuts him off, again, so of course we STILL don’t know her name. This time Ted doesn’t just say “will you marry me?” He says “will you marry me on Thursday?”, assigning a wedding date to their grand love story.
It’s Ted’s wedding day! He’s in the booth with Marshall, Lily, and Barney, but now the tables have turned. Barney is the sleepy dad, all worn out from his little one, and the rest of the gang wants to party. Lily thinks Barney really has changed, until he spots some hotties and takes off after them. Same old Barney, right? Wrong. They ask him to do shots, and he responds:
Shots? Before lunch on a Thursday? It’s like you’re trying to make bad decisions! You young ladies need to go home, put on some decent clothes, and take a good, hard look at your lives. Get! And call you parents, they’re probably worried sick.
Lily thinks she’s seen it all, but Marshall points out that there’s one more thing to see – Robin, coming through the door. She’s made it for the wedding! Now in the episode we have ten minutes left and it cut to commercial. I was getting really frustrated, because there was still SO MUCH to delve into, and time was basically gone. Again, I’m just so glad we spent so much time on this unnecessary wedding weekend and no time on all of this. (End sarcasm)
Robin says “I know I’ve missed a couple lately, but we said we’d always be there for the big moments.” Lily gives her a hug, and for a second all is right with the world. When Robin sees Barney, she says “hey daddy”, in reference to his new status as a proud papa. Barney breaks my heart again by saying “whoa, look, Robin, I’m really happy to see you, but I don’t think of you that way anymore”. Robin explains she meant because of the kid, and Barney says yeah, “she’s awesome. Daddy’s home.”
I really really really wanted Barney and Robin to get back together right here. I knew it was a long shot, but it felt so perfect for a minute. Robin could have been a stepmom to Ellie, and they could have settled down and been so happy together. I guess that’s not how it was supposed to work out, but this was a disappointment for me. It also left me feeling uncomfortable, because single Robin plus Mother issues we haven’t dealt with made it clear how things were going to unfold.
Then we have a distraction, because Marshall announces he will be running for New York Supreme Court Judge. So in a couple of months, if all goes well, they can officially address him as Fudge Supreme. Ted talks to Robin, and mentions that she RSVPed “No” to the wedding. These two and the RSVPs and the weddings, am I right? Robin admits that she wasn’t planning on coming, but TM convinced her. Then TM shows up, camera in hand, and says she can’t resist getting a picture of the group. This isn’t a private outdoors ceremony with a guitar playing, and it isn’t a heartfelt exchange of vows before the wedding, but this is still their equivalent to the pre-wedding ceremony that both Marshall and Lily and Barney and Robin had together.
The picture that TM takes is almost exactly the same as the picture from the opening credits, and from the very beginning of their friendship with Robin. Marshall’s face has exactly the same expression! Then, when the picture has been taken, Marshall pays up to Lily for the bet. They’ve kept it going all these years, but Ted marrying TM means that Marshall officially lost, and Ted and Robin did not end up together…right?
Lily proposes a toast, and it’s just how we all feel:
To Ted Evelyn Mosby. A man with more emotional endurance than anyone I know. It was a long, difficult road. Thank God we finally got here.
I’m going to let narrator Ted take over from her for a minute:
Lily wasn’t wrong. It was at times a long, difficult road. But I’m glad it was long and difficult, because if I hadn’t gone through hell to get there, the lesson might not have been as clear.
See kids, right from the moment I met your mom, I knew. I have to love this woman as much as I can, for as long as I can, and never stop loving her, not even for a second. I carried that lesson with me through every stupid fight we ever had, every 5 am Christmas morning, every sleepy Sunday afternoon. Through every speed bump, every pang of jealousy or boredom or uncertainty that came our way, I carried that lesson with me. And I carried it with me when she got sick.
Even then, in what can only be called the worst of times, all I could do was thank God. Thank every god there is, or was, or ever will be, and the whole universe and anyone else I could possibly thank, that I saw that beautiful girl on that train platform. And that I had the guts to stand up, walk over to her, tap her on the shoulder, open my mouth, and speak.
NOOOOOO. I did not want this sick mother business. I did not want TM to die! The signs were all there but I was in denial and I’m still in denial and maybe always will be. We barely got to know this incredible character, this amazing actress, but they expected us to buy her as the love of Ted’s life. And then, against all odds, it worked. She was perfect. We fell for her, hard, and were so excited to see their life together. But instead of giving us that, they gave us a few flashes of scrapbook photos and a horribly sad ending for such a happy couple. Maybe it’s all supposed to reflect how Ted’s time with her just flew by, I don’t know. But I don’t like it. My heart hurts.
May 26, 2013, Farhampton Train Station
Ted finally says hello. He finally meets The Mother. This is the moment we’ve been waiting for, but it feels hollow now to me. This feels like it was all a game but it was our emotions that were played with. I love these two together and this mere glimpse of their short future together is simply not enough. Somewhere in the back of my head I realized we must be about to find out her name, but at this point, what does it matter?
Ted and TM already recognize one another – she’s the bass player and Cindy’s ex-roommate, while he’s the best man and the professor from Econ 305. Ted is embarrassed until he notices that she has his umbrella and therefore must have stolen it from him. It doesn’t really count as stealing if you just leave your crap in someone’s house, but we get the idea. The Mother counters that no, this is and always has been her umbrella. Ted points out that his initials, TM, are right their on the handle, so the umbrella belongs to him, Ted Mosby. The Mother counters that those are her initials, too.
The Mother’s name is Tracy McConnell. TM has been TM for real this whole time, and the legendary Tracy Theory was correct! That’s another one that I thought for sure was total crap but ended up being actual show canon. Good job, Tracy theorists. Then both TM’s realize the further connections between them and the umbrella, and we see fate falling into place.
2030, Ted and the kids, finally
Ted: And that, kids, is how I met your mother.
Penny: That’s it?
Ted: Yes, that’s it.
Penny: I don’t buy it. That is not the reason you made us listen to this.
Ted: Oh really? Then what’s the reason?
Penny: Let’s look at the facts here. You made us sit down and listen to this story about how you met mom, yet mom’s hardly in the story. No. This is a story about how you’re totally in love with Aunt Robin. And you’re thinking about asking her out, and you want to know if we’re okay with it.
Sigh. The writing was on the wall, like I said, but I didn’t want this ending. Once we knew The Mother (I know we know her name now but it feels so weird to call her Tracy!) was dead, and Barney and Robin were divorced, it was inevitable. Had they given me some more time to feel fulfilled by Ted and The Mother’s relationship, I would be more supportive of this development. But all of this feels…forced, in a way. So Ted’s kids approve, and he heads over to Robin’s apartment, just like in the pilot episode. She has five dogs, just like before, and she sticks her head out the window to see who is there, just like before. Ted is holding the blue French horn, just like before. It’s his Say Anything Dobler moment, except he’s holding an instrument instead of a boom box. It feels right, but a little off.
Maybe it’s just because I’m not a Ted and Robin shipper. I loved them as a couple SO MUCH in the beginning, but forced myself to get over them because I was the naive viewer still waiting to meet the titular mother. As it turns out, The Mother didn’t matter all that much. This was always a Robin and Ted story, and there is a beauty in that which I can’t deny. It just doesn’t feel right in my heart. I feel a little duped, I guess. I put aside my own ideas about what seemed right in the very start and embraced these new relationships wholeheartedly. Barney and Robin? Yes please. Ted and The Mother? But of course! And yet none of that matters now.
It’s a show, so obviously, none of it ever really mattered. Never will. But for those of us that have been living inside this show for so many half hour increments, it feels confusing. I have more of an issue with Ted dating Aunt Robin than his own kids do! Ultimately they will all be happy, and on the front porch, and Robin will get her chance to do mom stuff for Ted’s kids. And I think The Mother would have wanted that. She never wanted Penny to get married without a mother figure present, and she certainly never wanted Ted to mourn her forever. The Mother learned to live after loss, and that’s the greatest lesson Ted would have ever learned from her. But we didn’t get those years with Ted and The Mother. We got a couple episodes of that magic and then we went right back to that Ted and Robin place. I guess it proves the show’s whole point, that it’s all about being in the right place at the right time. Now Ted and Robin are finally in that right place at the right time together, and he can steal her an entire orchestra.