'How I Met Your Mother' Review: "The End of the Aisle"

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How I Met Your Mother’ season 9 recalls its 22nd and penultimate episode of the final year in “The End of the Aisle,” as Ted reveals a surprising secret in his attempt to calm Robin down before the wedding, while Barney turns to Marshall and Lily for inspiration in writing his last-minute vows.

Last week's ‘How I Met Your Mother’ installment “Gary Blauman” saw Barney, Marshall, Lily and the other guests arguing over whether or not to kick out the titular wedding latecomer ('SNL' Star Taran Killam), each remembering their own past experiences with the man. So how does the latest episode keep the final season rolling down the aisle?

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘How I Met Your Mother’ season 9 episode 22, penultimate series installment “The End of the Aisle”!

32 minutes before the wedding, Robin admits to Ted that she can’t go through with the ceremony, having somewhat unfairly expected Barney to have found her long-lost locket, and wanting to be with someone who comes through for her. Outside, Ted removes the necklace from his pocket, and quickly returns it to Barney, telling him that Robin needs it to come from him. Shortly thereafter, Ted watches as Barney returns the locket to an overjoyed Robin.

Later, Marshall and Lily find Barney still furiously writing his vows, having failed for weeks to get them right. Marshall and Lily offer their expertise in the matter, but Barney recalls that the two have broken every single vow made at their actual wedding in the six years that followed. Meanwhile, Robin again summons Ted to her room, asking how he found the locket. Ted attempts to cover for Barney at first, before admitting how he’d tracked it from Stella, to Victoria, to Jeanette, and ultimately fished it out of the Central Park waters.

Barney backs up his claims by pointing out that Marshall ignored Lily’s sickness on their honeymoon flight, while Lily similarly disrespected her husband weeks later in allowing Barney and Ted to upload a photo of drunk Marshall dressed as Wonder Woman. Meanwhile, Robin reminds Ted that he always performs such grand romantic gestures for her, while even Barney’s biggest gestures have some basis in deception, indicative of his true nature. Robin wonders if she’s made the right decision, or should perhaps be marrying Ted.

Ted tells Robin he doesn’t want to hear it, and that he’d never dream of interfering with hers and Barney’s wedding, even if his intent to track down the locket might potentially have started out that way. Ted passionately presses that love doesn’t necessarily have to make sense, but remains the thing humanity does best. Robin admits to having overreacted a bit, but changes her mind from running away with Ted to running away altogether, and locking Ted in her bridal suite. On her way out of the inn, Robin accidentally knocks over the Mother on the dance floor.

Marshall and Lily visit the chapel before the ceremony to craft more realistic vows, having realized from Barney’s words that generic wedding vows don’t cover the full spectrum of their lives together. Unaware that Barney is watching from the door, the pair make specific, less flowery promises about the more disgusting aspects of their lives together, vowing to keep updating said vows as they grow and change together.  Meanwhile, Robin expects the Mother will give her the usual reasons not to run away from the wedding, but not knowing Robin well enough, the Mother instead suggests Robin simply take three deep breaths to avoid feeling overwhelmed. At the end of the second breath, Robin sees Barney standing before her on the dance floor.

Moved by Marshall and Lily’s vows, Barney discards his old vows and explains that Marshall and Lily are the best couple he’s ever known, even if they occasionally break their promises to one another. Barney instead offers to make only one vow, that he’ll always be honest with her, as he admits that Ted found the locket, and not him. Later, Barney and his groomsmen stand at the altar awaiting Robin, before Barney has one final panic attack about his tie, and Marshall uses his last slap of the slap bet to calm Barney down.

Robin finally reaches the end of the aisle, as Barney explains that his commitment to honesty brings one last revelation: they really do have a ring bear, though one too young and cuddly to endanger anyone. Future Ted reminisces about the long wedding weekend full of ups and downs that was Barney and Robin’s nuptials, remembering how it taught him love needn’t always be perfect. After all, love is the best thing we do, and their wedding was all the more legendary for it.

OUR REVIEW:

The (somewhat) unexpected ninth, and final season of ‘How I Met Your Mother’  has been a year full of ups and downs, wrapped up inside a challenging -- but ultimately hampered -- format whose only real upside was to gradually reveal the mother we’d often heard so much about. Nine full seasons of convoluted mythology make the series difficult enough to take stock of (we briefly forgot that last week’s “Gary Blauman” had actually appeared multiple times throughout the series), let alone to look back on season 9 as we stand on the precipice of the finale. Thankfully, “Gary Blauman" put things back on a much more even keel than the “Daisy” before it, and given how well Carter Bays and Craig Thomas tend to nail the important episodes, it shouldn’t surprise that “The End of the Aisle” lands almost perfectly.

We won’t bother to question the logistics of Ted fishing out Robin’s locket from the Central Park pond, or the impact it might have on any of this season’s previous realizations about his unrequited love, but above all, we were glad to see the thread finally addressed, with explicit confirmation that Ted would never stoop so low as to interfere with the wedding. The series might have begun on their courtship, while later seasons would leave viewers questioning if the Barney-Robin pairing felt truly earned, and we can almost hear the creators’ voices in Ted’s words about love not having to make sense to "make sense." Still, Ted rejecting a golden ticket to win Robin back speaks volumes about how far we’ve come in just a few seasons, neatly challenging any viewer complaints about Ted and Robin or Robin and Barney’s relationships along the way.

Not only that, but “The End of the Aisle” took a somewhat less on-the-nose route to wrapping up a number of lingering threads through the season, paying off Barney’s adorable ring bear in spades, and surprising us all with Marshall’s final slap. They’re small moments, especially in light of an episode so monumental as to see Barney and Robin finally wed, but important reminders of the gang’s outlandish behavior never out-stepping the bounds of sweetness.

Clearly, we’re in for some major events with next week’s hour-long finale, given that Barney and Robin have already made it down the aisle with plenty of time to spare, but speculation won’t do us any good, at least for the moment. In the meantime, “The End of the Aisle” gave us exactly what we wanted from a near-final installment of the series; a thought-provoking and honest take on all things love, marriage and time, with the perfect amount of sentiment and callback to prime us for the series finale next Monday.

Well, what say you? Did ‘How I Met Your Mother’’s penultimate installment, “The End of the Aisle” warm your heart to the final season? Did Robin and Barney's jitters about the wedding strengthen its actual sweetness in the end? Give us your thoughts in the comments, and join us again next Monday for another all-new recap of ‘How I Met Your Mother’’s closing episode, series finale “Last Forever” on CBS!

Filed Under: CBS, How I Met Your Mother
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