A few thoughts on the penultimate episode of “How I Met Your Mother” coming up just as soon as I take part in the bearded Wonder Woman incident of 2007…
Even with a one-hour series finale still to come, and even with last week's episode having resolved the fates of most of the notable recurring characters, “The End of the Aisle” still had a lot of business it had to take care of. Since we still have to have the actual meeting of Ted and the Mother, and have to get some closure on their future, Robin and Barney's and Ted and Lily's, this one had to first give us the actual wedding we've been hanging around all season for, and it had to conclude some other bits of business as well, like the slap bet and the ring bear.
And at times the parts about resolution felt that obligatory. The final slap, for instance, played almost as an afterthought, though perhaps if I was actually eager to see Barney marry Robin, I'd have felt differently. And some of the early scenes about Robin and Barney's respective cases of cold feet felt almost like a clip show version of the episode, or Bays and Thomas trying to get out from under some cliffhanger material they wrote a couple of years ago without thinking through how they would deal with it.
But then the episode slowed down to deal with Ted's feelings for Robin, and vice versa, and her fears about Barney and almost none of that worked for me. Robin taking it as a bad sign that Barney never found the locket, for instance, doesn't ring especially true given that she had a much more obvious sign in the fact that she and Barney spent their entire wedding weekend fighting with each other. And Ted's insistence that he doesn't love Robin that way anymore ran into the problem that he literally changed his mind on the subject that morning. Again, I think most of the mistakes in the Robin/Barney relationship, and in the attempts to bring Ted into it for a love triangle, were made a long time ago and wouldn't be easily fixable now, but this final season did that entire part of the show no favors.
On the other hand, Lily and Marshall's revised vows, and the glimpses of how they've changed as a couple since the events of “Something Borrowed,” were really sweet and nice and true to who they've always been as characters. And the Mother remained funny and charming in her brief appearance, and ultimately didn't play a bigger role in Barney and Robin's path to the altar than she should have as a complete stranger.
I spent a good chunk of today working on some retrospective material about the series that should be on the site Thursday night or Friday, and it was a good reminder of how great “HIMYM” could be back in the day. We've gotten occasional reminders of that this season, usually but not limited to when Cristin Milioti is on screen, and my hope is that now that all the other business has been dealt with and Bays and Thomas are at the end point they've had in their heads for years, something really good will happen next week. And if not? We'll always have the early repeats, and the odd moment that evoked them like Marshall and Lily reciting new vows to each other tonight.
What did everybody else think?