by Grace Crawford

Images courtesy of Bay & Thomas Productions and 20th Century Fox.

Images courtesy of Bay & Thomas Productions and 20th Century Fox.

9×08: “The Lighthouse”

Being single is discouraging. As someone who didn’t start dating until I was in my twenties, I know. It’s hard. It’s lonely. And it’s so, so easy to look for the first available person who’ll make that empty feeling go away, to fill a little bit of that hole in your heart that just won’t go away. But that person’s not right, and deep down you know it. That’s why those relationships never last long.

For Ted, it didn’t last much longer than it took him to blow chunks off a lighthouse.

In this episode, Lily smashes a lot of glasses anytime she hears words pertaining to the judicial process (judge, gavel, court, etc.) because they remind her of what Marshall did. Daphne and Marshall are having conflict resolution issues, in part because Daphne is wildly inconsiderate and because she “threw a live grenade into [Marshall’s] marriage” (which I won’t even get into because false, Marshall did that first).

More excitingly, we see the escalating hostilities between Robin and Loretta, while Barney is caught in the middle. It starts with Robin covering Loretta’s blouse (which she won in poker) with food, continues when Barney says Loretta makes the best scrambled eggs ever (which is actually a super lame reason for a battle royale, but whatever), and ends with a scramble-off. It turns out Loretta does, in fact, make the best scrambled eggs ever, and Robin has no idea how to. Loretta slides in a little dig about feeding the grandchildren, which hurts Robin deeply, and Barney reveals to his mother that children won’t be a part of their future.

Following a heart-to-heart conversation with Barney, Loretta decides to be civil to Robin—at least, until she finds out that Robin’s mother won’t be coming to the wedding, as she’s afraid of flying. Civil flies out the window and turns to true affection, and Loretta insists that Robin call her “Mom” and gives her… just the sweetest hug ever. So despite the lame lead-up and my enormously disappointed hopes as far as the war goes, it’s somewhat alleviated by that genuinely lovely moment between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law.

And now we get to Ted. He’s growing tired of waiting for the right person, and following Lily’s drunken advice to “settle,” he brings Crying Blonde Chick (Callie? Cassie?) to the titular lighthouse. (Don’t get me started on why he wasn’t allowed to go alone; the desk clerk should be fired with great prejudice and malice aforethought.) Ted realizes there was a reason all along why he never just settled for whatever girl came along. He knows there’s a right person out there for him, and no matter how much it hurts him, he’s going to wait for her.

And that works out great for him, because two years later he proposes to her on the top of the lighthouse. And she says yes.

The Lighthouse

Woo.

And I have nothing else in terms of plot. So let’s wax philosophical.

I’ve recently discovered the main reason How I Met Your Mother has been bothering me so much lately. And no, it’s not the dipping quality of the writing, the systematic running into the ground of my favourite characters, or even the fact that it’s gone on for about three years more than it rightfully should’ve. It’s the fact that this show preaches the idea of one true love, of a soulmate, of the one—both with Marshall and Lily and with Ted and the Mother.

I’ve never been a cynic. I’ve always been a romantic. I prefer Disney movies to action movies, musicals to horror, sweeping period romances to boorish comedies. I like love. I like the idea of love. But I don’t like the idea of one true love for everyone, even if I do kind of believe in it, because that suggests that everyone gets only one shot to get it right. And if you choose wrong, if you miss the mark, even just by a tiny bit, you’ve failed. Your life will never be where it was supposed to be. And that takes free will out of the equation.

I’ve been thinking a lot over the last couple years, ever since I started writing my book, about free will and predestination. And you know what I’ve settled on? It’s easy to believe in true love—when there’s a writer controlling it. See, I know how it is: you keep your characters apart juuuust long enough that they doubt they’ll ever meet. Then you throw them together, toss some obstacles in their path, clear them away, and they magically end up together. But I don’t think life is like that. Regardless of what you believe about God or the universe or destiny or what have you, I think most people, if they’re really honest with themselves, believe in meeting the “right person.” Which suggests that, if a person doesn’t match up with the checklist in your head, they’re wrong.

You can be picky—absolutely, you should be picky. Don’t just settle for the first person who comes along. Wait for it. Give it time. When you know, you know—whether that it’s your soulmate, someone you care for deeply, or even just someone you can be best friends with for the next fifty years—and that’s what real-life romance looks like.

Ted has it easy. There’s a team of writers controlling every aspect of his life, bringing him to the moment he’s been waiting for, the moment he meets the woman of his dreams. For real people, it’s harder. I’m not saying you need another person to make you happy, and I’m absolutely not saying you should settle for someone who’s not the right fit for you. I’m saying, if you’re committed enough, if you care enough, if you love that other person enough, any two people can make it work.

That’s why I love Robin and Barney so much—because amidst all this contrived romance and deliberately planned storytelling, they went for it, and they made it work.

And Ted? He’s still waiting for his true love to show up.

Final Grade: B-


Items of Note:

  • Robin says “Zed Zed Top.” So understated, yet so perfect. BECAUSE WE SAY “ZED” HERE, THAT’S WHY.
  • I totally didn’t realize that we didn’t know a damn thing about Robin’s mom. BUT WE REALLY DON’T.
  • The dress Lily wears in this episode is darling.
  • The lovely hug between Barney and Robin when he finds out she can’t have kids. Sniff.
  • That underground club is stupendous. I actually hope it doesn’t come back at all ever because I want it to remain a mystery. Knowing these guys, though, it’ll come back and be the focal point of an entire episode. Sigh.
  • Zitchdog is back!
  • SO IS “I’m Gonna Be“!
  • I love how the Mother says “bonkers beautiful.” I really, really love her. That is all.

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