9×22: “The End of the Aisle”
Friggin’ finally, man. After an entire season and the longest weekend ever, Barney and Robin tie the knot–but not before Robin digs deep, pulls out her inner crazy, and decides she wants to marry Ted instead.
Barney’s still freaking out about his tie and the vows he still hasn’t written, and he’s only distracted by poking holes in Marshall and Lily’s wedding vows, which they’ve broken repeatedly over the six years.
So all of this makes me ask, “Why on earth would anyone ever want to get married?”
Marshall and Lily, despite being the world’s cutest couple, have let the spark of romance die. And it’s no wonder–they’ve been together for, what, sixteen years now? That’s just about half their lives. So it’s not surprising that they yell across the apartment at each other while Marshall trims his nose hair and Lily drops a deuce; that’s just married life.
But this doesn’t live up to the vows they made on their wedding day, which were full of hope and optimism and sappy promises to do adorable things for each other. But they come to realize that as they’ve changed, so has their marriage (“As we mat-oore, the relationship mat-oores with us”), and it stands to reason that they need to update their vows.
As fundamentally flawed as that idea is (you can’t just change lifelong promises like that, but maybe I’m just a traditionalist), it’s kind of sweet in its execution. Marshall and Lily borrow the altar (seriously, what aren’t they borrowing this weekend?) to renew their vows with more realistic subject matter: crying less during the pregnancy, not interrupting each other, allowing the other to drop a deuce in peace… and that’s where Barney realizes that his vows don’t matter as much as he thought they did.
After Robin freaks out about her missing locket, Ted gives it to Barney (is anyone surprised that he found it? Because of course he did) and tells him to take the credit. But this gesture backfires, as Robin decides that she can’t marry a man who lies all the time. So she pulls a Victoria and tries to run off with Ted. But Ted has finally let go of the idea of “Ted and Robin,” because he sees how happy Barney and Robin are together. So Robin just runs off by herself–slamming right into The Mother.
As she does, The Mother gives Robin some sage advice: take three deep breaths, and everything will work out. Sure enough, Barney appears and makes one vow to Robin, the only vow that matters: that he will always be honest with her. Fast forward to the end of the aisle, where the happy couple laugh and fumble their way through their vows until they finally kiss, and that’s it. After all this time, Barney and Robin are married.
That’s the finish line, right? I mean, Marshall and Lily are having another baby. They’re moving to Italy. They’re still going strong after all these years, and you know they’ll be together forever. Compare that with Barney and Robin, who are just starting out. They’re not as conventional or as adorable as Marshmallow and Lilypad, but they’re just as happy and just as in love.
And that’s why people get married.
Roughly paraphrasing, Ted said something along the lines of, “All we can do is love each other and do it as hard as we can, because that’s what we do best.” We live in a crazy world full of even crazier things. Life goes wrong, and we meet the wrong people, and we do the wrong thing, and there are days when it’s all so terrible that we just want to curl up in bed and forget there’s anything else to the world.
But when we have someone, whether it’s a parent or a friend or someone we’ve chosen to spend the rest of our lives with, it makes everything so much easier. I don’t think people are meant to be alone. Some people like it that way, yes, but for the most part, we need each other. We need to be loved. So when you find a person whose love you need, and who you love in return, it makes sense for the two of you to promise to stay together.
I don’t know why the actual wedding needs to be a part of it; honestly, it’d be much easier if we could just say, “Want to get married? Sweet, I’ve got half an hour; let’s do it.” But I guess that’s part of needing other people: when you make that promise, you do it in front of everyone else that you love, too. And that’s the kind of thing I think about when I see an episode like this: the nature of love. Why we do what we do when it comes to relationships. Why we go through the intricacies and pitfalls of planning a huge party around a ten-minute ceremony. Because we love. And when we love, we do it hard.
Honestly, if it weren’t for the fact that Ted still needs to meet The Mother, this would have been an amazing way to end the series: everyone’s happy, everyone’s grown up, everyone’s ready to start a new chapter in their lives. But even though this series has been an ensemble piece–honestly, I wouldn’t have lasted this long if I had to put up with Ted by himself–it’s not about the group. It really is about Ted.
Everyone else has their happy ending, but Ted is still alone. But it’s not a sad thing anymore, like it’s always been with Sad Sack Ted: he’s really and truly let go of Robin. He had the opportunity to run away with the girl he always wanted, but he turned it down, because he doesn’t love her like he did eight years ago. There was no moment of sadness at the altar, no sigh of regret. He’s ready to move on. He’s ready to love as completely and wholeheartedly as his friends do and to find his happy ending.
And next episode, he’s going to meet her.
And I am so, so excited.
Final Grade: A
- Oh, Marshall. Nobody appreciates your vow-related puns.
- I didn’t realize it until just this second, but I have a resolute and unyielding need to hear Weird Al Yankovic parody “Live and Let Die” with “Chicken Pot Pie.”
- Even on her wedding day, Robin still has to get in one more dig at Patrice. I like that they toned it down, though; funny as it was, “Nobody asked you, Patrice” was a major hole in Robin’s character writing.
- That was a bit of a letdown on the “ring bear” front; I was expecting something… well, less adorable and more man-eating.
- I love that The Mother was “a bit of a detective” when she was a kid. She really is perfect for Ted. That is all.