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Friday, March 28, 2014

HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER Reaches "The End of the Aisle"

Article first published as HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER Reaches "The End of the Aisle" on TheTVKing.

CBS's How I Met Your Mother finally gets us up to, and through, Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) and Robin's (Cobie Smulders) wedding this week in "The End of the Aisle." When it was announced that this last season of the show would take place entirely on the wedding weekend, I assumed a great many episodes would occur at the reception after the wedding. This turns out not to be the case, with only next week's hour-long series finale left, an installment that has to focus on so much more than a party. But after watching this episode, it seems the perfect way to end the regular season before going into the big conclusion.

Half an hour before the ceremony, Robin begins to have serious doubts. She knows Barney, with his initials B.S., is a big liar, and how can she trust someone like that? Besides, he didn't do the big romantic gesture of finding her missing locket. Does he really care?

Robin confides these things to her buddy, Ted (Josh Radnor), someone she has a very strong bond with, then, after some locket-resolving scenes, says that she and Ted should run away together. This is the moment Ted wanted going into this weekend, and for fans who have held a torch for the couple all these years, despite being told right at the beginning that they wouldn't end up together, this turn validates those feelings.

Of course Ted refuses. It's taken this long weekend, but he now knows he isn't in love with Robin any more, nor is she in love with him. Sure, they could be happy for awhile, but they aren't meant to be together, and it would eventually fall apart. With Barney, on the other hand, Robin has a future, a partner in crime, and someone who will make her life great. Ted is wise enough to advise this and take a step back, thus ending a major story arc in the perfect way.

This isn't enough to assuage Robin's doubts, however, and she flees, only to bump into The Mother (Cristin Milioti), then Barney. It's with her fiance that she finally calms down, seeing the love in his eyes and words, and assuring herself that she's making the right decision.

Barney, meanwhile, has been having his own crisis. Fretting over his vows, he points out to a would-be-helpful Marshall (Jason Segel) and Lily (Alyson Hannigan) that they are the best couple he knows, and even they can't keep the promises they made on their wedding day. If they cannot, how can he be expected to?

But that's just it. Despite breaking their words, they are still the best couple he knows. The only major trouble they run into is when Marshall lies to Lily. Lying may be a major part of Barney's character up 'til now, but he will gratefully give it up for Robin. She's worth everything to him. When he bumps into her, he tells her this (and soon after about the ring bear), and this fixes them. Though, minor gripe, he does lie about the flower gorilla, even if Robin may never know.

Then we're up on the altar, Marshall delivering the final slap bet slap, Robin walking down the aisle to strains of "Sandcastles in the Sand," and a final dig at Patrice (Ellen D. Williams). It's a wonderfully crafted moment, all five main characters having been given their due in "The End of the Aisle," reaffirming not only who they are, but who they will be. While next week will likely jump around, showing us what happens after this point, the ceremony itself feels like the official tie up of the show's threads, and it does it very effectively, redeeming many of the bad years of story when the series floundered.

The only real complaint I have about the entire episode involves the shots of the guests smiling up at the happy couple during the wedding. It's not that not enough characters are included; many familiar faces are likely seen for the last time, as they should be. But it's very clear in the wide shots that none of these people are in the room. I understand that, with so many actors, it would be nearly impossible to schedule such a shoot. However, it does feel hollow to realize that all the cameos are added in later, not part of the wedding scene itself, and it's obvious this is the case. How disappointing.

Overall, though, "The End of the Aisle" is a terrific entry, serving the purpose it needs to serve beautifully, and setting up a heck of a series finale. If next week is as good as this one, viewers should be left very satisfied.

How I Met Your Mother's series finale airs next Monday at 8 p.m. ET.

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