Some of you may consider the following to contain mild spoilers.
How I Met Your Mother is in its final home stretch, rounding up loose ends, tying off hanging story lines, getting us closer and closer to the inevitable moment that will change Ted Mosby’s life, the moment he meets the Mother. Naturally, some of the episodes are going to feel undercooked, and this week’s “The End of the Aisle” is one of those raw dishes. Finally dealing once and for all with the will-they-won’t-they tension between Ted and Robin that has permeated the show since the pilot episode, teasing us constantly even though we know from the start that Robin is not Ted’s future wife, this week focused on the overcomplicated story of Robin’s necklace. Remember that story? Me neither, but it sure does seem important to her.
Robin’s necklace of course represents her ability to find love, for some reason, and she somehow has convinced herself that if the man who would return it to her after it goes missing (in a very confusing way that only HIMYM can not-quite pull off) should be the man she marries. Apparently she’s been spending too much time around Ted. Granted, Ted’s speech about how love doesn’t make sense was touching, and a heartfelt reminder of why we watch this show every week, but the storyline doesn’t really work. Ted has the locket, obviously, the final holdout for the Ted and Robin shippers out there, but he gives it to Barney after learning the way Robin feels, trying to assuage her panic. Thing is, Barney lies and tells Robin that he found the locket.
Granted, Ted told Barney to say that, but how many red flags does Robin need from the universe that the man she is about to marry has zero interest in honesty? Over the last couple seasons Barney has been downright cruel to Robin, lying and manipulating her like a puppet to get what he wants, which is… what, exactly? Love? Does anyone really think Barney loves Robin? They have some sweet moments, it’s true, but I don’t buy it. So when this episode finally ended with Barney promising to remain truthful, although the moment is nice to see, the show didn’t earn it.
In the B story, Barney harasses Marshal and Lily for not keeping their wedding vows, pointing out all the ways they’ve quote lied to each other unquote, prompting them to realize that as they keep changing they should keep renewing their vows. Marshal and Lily are a great onscreen couple but this plot goes nowhere other than to provide Ted with fodder for his closing Voice Over. Although strangely enough, I did really enjoy Marshal’s “vow” puns, unusual since I normally hate puns.
Maybe I’m being too harsh. After all, the show’s greatest strength has always been managing to remain hopeful about love in the face of unwavering cynicism and the difficulties that life presents. Ted’s story to his kids is equally full of “dad lectures” and humorous anecdotes that inspire as much as they teach. This particular story just didn’t do it for me. It feels like a hasty attempt to sort of tie up the loose ends that had to be left out of the finale so they can pack more appropriately fitting plots into the final farewell. That’s fair, and I understand why it had to be done, but I wish there had been more development leading up to it, or rather I wish they hadn’t spent so much time stringing along the necklace subplot that ultimately ended up falling flat.
We have one double-episode left before we say goodbye forever to these characters. I hope the finale ties everything together, not because I need things to come to a close, but after nine years of listening to Ted ramble on, it’d be nice to get some catharsis. Good luck, Mosby, not that you really need it at this point.