Screen: CBS

How I Ruined An Episode By Not Connecting The Narrative Dots Well Enough Before Meeting Your Mother

How Mother-y was the (for real this time) wedding of Robin and Barney?

And there it is. There's the trainwreck-y breakage of the final season we worried might happen.

After a recent string of pretty good-to-great final episodes, the high-wire act of marrying (…sorry) the show's sizeable narrative baggage to what it's lately been trying to say about Ted's future life and the lives of his friends finally broke down and things took a spill. Most notably, the idea that both Barney and Robin are trying to bail on their wedding 32 minutes before it happens is just bad and wrong and doesn't at all jibe with the second half of this last season and all that's happened at Farhampton. That story, that Robin was ready to head out the window and leave Barney at the altar and that Barney was having a nervous breakdown over a tie color, belongs to past seasons, not what's been built up to in Season Nine. It's sloppy and feels like puzzle pieces that don't quite match. It doesn't serve anything but to repeat stuff we've heard about a million times (the locket; Robin's worry that Barney's not honest enough; Ted's insistence that he's no longer in love with Robin) and to bridge the continuity gap.

How bad does it get? It turns the wedding of Robin and Barney, which should be a huge deal on this show, into filler to get us to the real finale, presumably taking place in the one-hour last episode at the wedding reception where Ted will meet The Mother.

Robin uncharacteristically freaks out because she doesn't have her locket, and thinks Barney should have somehow found it for her if he's to be the guy for her. (Robin, the most pragmatic person in the group, should be way, way past this by now. We all thought she was.) Ted has the locket in his pocket and worriedly gives it to Barney rather than wrecking the wedding by giving it to Robin himself, as he was planning to do later. (And by the way; enough with the fucking locket already!) The plan backfires. Robin figures out that Ted was the one who tracked down the locket for her, and suddenly Robin is ready to abandon the wedding and move to Chicago with Ted to start a new life. (Shake your head along with me.) Ted gives a flowery speech about the nature of love and how he's outgrown Robin and it's just sappy and painful, and not in the magical, truthful way this show can sometimes spin that.

Bottom line is that Ted tells Robin, "No, go get married," and she does, after running into The Mother on her way out. Again, it seems insulting to Robin's intelligence that it takes Ted's rejection and bumping into a stranger to make her realize she should marry Barney. If you're being lectured about love by pre-Mother Ted Mosby, your life has taken a serious wrong turn.

Barney, meanwhile, is being talked down from his necktie freak-out and a crisis over wedding vows he's trying to write by Marshall and Lily. Barney reminds Lily and Marshall that they've broken a few vows of their own, and this leads them to make up some new ones at the altar where apparently nobody knows there's a wedding about to happen.

Before Robin can leave, Barney rushes to her and tells her he wants to be honest, wisely ditches his lame vows, and wins Robin back. The wedding happens with guest stars seemingly Photoshopped into the scenes and a Ring Bear present. No one gets mauled.

Next week's finale might have lots of great surprises and a perfect tone to wrap up nine years of this, but this episode, even with a well-timed Slap Bet, did not connect the dots well enough.

But isn't that typical of latter-day HIMYM? How Mother-y were the elements of this week's How I Met Your Mother?

Mother-y Element Present?
Ted Still Pines For Robin...Or Does He? Ted makes a bold stand against getting back together with Robin even when she offers to run off with him, but it doesn't change the fact that he was carrying Robin's locket in his pocket and planning to keep it there for the whole wedding.
Robin And/Or Barney Shows Signs Of Cold Feet Before The Wedding Very much so, as a callback to previous episodes showing them both about to bail on the wedding. It doesn't line up so well with the episodes leading up to this one, but that's what happens when you paint yourself into narrative corners.
Guest Star From A Past Season Pops Up (Ex-Boyfriend, Old Boss, Ranjit The Cab Driver) The wedding chapel is filled with guest stars, mostly from this season, but some from the past. Too many to list here, but at least there weren't any exes of Ted's (except in flashbacks).
Baby Marvin Does Something Cute And/Or Disruptive Marvin was apparently not invited to the wedding ceremony.
Gay Jokes About Barney’s Brother James Stinson (Wayne Brady)? James appears, but his gayness doesn't really come up.
Ted Moves A Tiny Step Closer To Meeting The Mother (Cristin Milioti) The Mother stops Robin long enough to keep her from bailing on her own wedding, thus ensuring Ted will later meet her.
Humor Involving Wacky Relatives Doing Wacky Relative Stuff At A Wedding No, the relatives just stay in their seats and watch the wedding when it finally happens.
Ted Is An Insufferable, Pretentious Prick About Architecture, Wedding Etiquette, English Literature, Or Any Other Pedantic Bullshit Ted is suddenly the world's foremost expert on love and why we should use it.
Public Transportation High Jinks A flashback of Lily vomiting on a plane and Marshall not doing anything to help her.
Flashback To Ted, Lily, And Marshall In College No, but that Pearl Jam song sure reminds us that these folks went to school in the '90s.
Pop Song Montage Or Episode Outro Pearl Jam's "Future Days" plays over Robin and Barney's wedding ceremony.
Barney Says Something Inappropriately Dirty About A Hot Woman Because, Come On, Barney No, but his first-draft wedding vows, the ones he was thinking up beforehand, were pretty selfish and crass.
"Legend…ary!", "Wait For It…," Or Any Pun On The Word "Bro" Robin figures out that "legendary" usually means "made-up," but Ted uses it later to describe the wedding. No, that's not a conspiracy theory. Marshall also makes a long run of puns on the word "Vow" and they are not great.
Retro Video, Instructional Tape, Book, Or Other Multimedia Project Starring Or Created By One Of The Main Characters (Robin Sparkles, Barney As A Fake Astronaut, Etc.) Marshall and Lily create their own updated vows at the altar before the wedding (the room is unrealistically empty). You guys had half the weekend to do that. Way to wait 'til the last minute.
Slap Bet Yes! Marshall delivers the final slap right before Robin walks down the aisle to calm Barney's freak-out about his tie. Now Barney is free from Slap Debt. They hug it out.
Unanticipated Wedding Hookup Ted avoids that by not agreeing to run off with Robin.
10 / 16
62.5 percent run-of-the-mill Mother-y relationship claptrap, but with a soft landing in the end.
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