Eight hundred fifty-five days ago, Lost ended. I know, you’re here to read about How I Met Your Mother — we’ll get to that, but just like both shows in question, it will take a little time. We’ve got to earn it. See, the past two years and four months (more appropriately measured as 11,400 intervals of 108-minute periods), the world has sought a replacement for Lost. Something with as dazzling a world, as compelling a cast of characters, as engrossing a mystery. But as pure a fan as I am of ABC’s island majesty, there is an element of Lost that we, in seeking a new show to fill its void, seem to be overlooking: the frustration. As wholly satisfying and life affirming as it was, Lost was damn frustrating to watch. In the apparent proximity of one mystery’s solution, Lost would instead choose to ensnare fans with another set of questions. Every time it seemed like something was about to be wrapped up, another monkey wrench was thrown into the woodworks. Before we could get an answer to one question, we’d be faced with another question entirely. Kind of like with How I Met Your Mother.
The CBS sitcom launches its eighth, and potentially final, season with the address of the two cliffhangers with which audiences were left in May: on the one hand, Ted and Victoria were running off together on the latter’s wedding day. But we know that they can’t feasibly end up with one another, because that would contradict the words of Future Ted — the all-powerful. Secondly, “a ways down the road,” we saw another wedding day: that of Barney Stinson and Robin Scherbatsky, mere scenes after Barney had proposed marriage to Quinn. While the Season 8 premiere, set on Victoria’s wedding day (which happened “a ways” prior to Barney’s/Robin’s… ugh, it’s like those damn Season 5 time jumps) does shed light on a few of the elements that might lead up to the various conclusions. We’ll begin with the Barney/Robin story.
Barney, Robin, and Quinn join overtired new parents Marshall and Lily in their apartment; the latter pair’s inability to compose themselves leads to an unintentional revelation of the secret that Barney and Robin were previously romantically involved. Quinn is unsurprisingly upset, despite Barney’s laugh-out-loud hilarious (not a phrase this show has warranted much in recent seasons, but it is truly applicable here) attempt to win her favor by regurgitating every single How I Met Your Mother plot point from the moment Ted spotted Robin in a bar in 2005 right up to the present, following Quinn’s demand to know everything about Barney’s and Robin’s past together — all in under a minute. Bravo, NPH.
In any event, Quinn maintains her displeasure up until Robin convinces her there is nothing to worry about — this is achieved by Robin’s introduction of Quinn and Barney to her new, abdominally gifted boyfriend Nick. But of course, there is something to worry about. Barney’s revelation to Robin that he has kept every bit of memorabilia from their relationship, all stored safely in a storage unit, seems to incite an acknowledgement of both parties’ lingering feelings. But for now (now-now), Barney and Quinn/Robin and Nick are still together. But later-now, Barney and Robin will have their wedding… of course, as we see this week, that might not go so smoothly — both Barney and Robin are shown to be uncertain about the marriage, and the episode’s frames show Ted sitting alone in the rain on the wedding day, lamenting the events to have just transpired. We won’t find out what happened later-now until later-later… but we know that they will lead Ted to cross paths with (or at least sit idly beside unknowingly) a woman with a yellow umbrella. They’re just feet away from one another, sitting at a train station in the Long Island town of Farhampton (not a place), in the rain at nighttime following the events of Barney’s and Robin’s possible wedding. They have to meet this time! … But we’ve been burned before.
We get a clearer idea of how Ted and Victoria come to end things. Himself a victim of Leftatthealtaria, Ted insists that Victoria go back and leave her fiancé Klaus a note. Getting the note into her bridal suite is itself a challenge, as Victoria cannot bear to head back into the chapel, and Klaus’ statuesque sister is guarding the door. But a few wacky hijinks ensue, and Ted manages to get in, leave Victoria’s note, get out… and bump into Klaus on the way. He himself is running away from the wedding. Klaus explains to Ted that he loves Victoria, but that he knows that she isn't perfect for him, but simply very, very close… a declaration that seems to offset a similar concern in Ted. He isn’t sure if she’s his own perfect woman, and this uncertainty, as Klaus explains, is proof enough that she isn’t. So, soon enough, she’ll be kaput. All because Thomas Lennon with an accent felt like waxing poetic on the indefinable entity of fated love.
The big question presently is whether Barney and Robin will actually get married — and another is whether or not we want them to. Fans of their union are not few, but knowing the importance of children to Barney and the fact that Robin will never have any (as confirmed by the infallible Future Ted), you can’t help but hope he holds out for a path that makes him a father. But who else might Barney end up with, then? Obviously his relationship with Quinn isn’t permanent, and it’s not likely that she’ll return into his life following his decision to break up and get married to his ex.
So, just like back on the island, we're left with more questions than answers. Hopefully, things will wind down toward the meeting of the mother, the union (or at least the confirmed disunion) of Barney and Robin, and maybe some better use for Marshall and Lily than jokes about them being tired. You've got Segel and Hannigan at your disposal, guys! Make 'em fight vampires, or dance with Muppets! They love that stuff!
[Photo Credit: CBS]