Ron P. Jaffe/Fox
In the very final moments of its seventh season finale, How I Met Your Mother revealed that Barney Stinson’s bride would turn out to be Robin Scherbatsky. And it was the moments immediately thereafter when a tidal wave of skepticism erupted from inside the souls of the viewing public. Critics, message boarders, and my roommate Matt (a longtime fan) all decried the possibility that Barney and Robin could really end up together. And now, just a merer few hours from their turn at the altar, some of us hold fast to that belief. And I think How I Met Your Mother knows that.
This week’s hangover-themed episode “Rally” introduces a handful of scenes from the post-series timeline: we see Marshall get regrettably plastered during the last legs of his judgeship race (circa 2020), Lily get remorsefully hammered moments after dropping a teenaged Marvin off at college (circa 2030), and Robin wake up dead-faced in a Buenos Aires apartment building, beside an equally waffled Barney and what turns out to be someone else’s baby (circa 2016). That last one seems to insinuate that the couple is still together two years after the wedding in question, as we’re meant to believe that they would be. To the skeptic, the immediate sight of Barney and Robin waking up together seems like a buzzkill — “Well, there goes that theory!” — but as How I Met Your Mother has played the misdirection game so, so, so many times before, we’re prompted to look at the clues.
One clue, anyway, and not a particularly subtle one: as she rises from her alcohol-induced mini-coma, Robin turns to Barney and asks, “Did last night really happen?” To which he mutters, “I think so.” This is played off as a hat tip to the wild evening of hard partying the Stinson-Scherbatsky duo clearly endured… but if we’re holding fast to our theory that Barney and Robin do not, in fact, get married at the end of our current Season 9, then we might be inclined to chalk this up to an un expected, perhaps regretted (and probably not unique) post-breakup drunken tryst. Hell, maybe Robin does love Barney, but she is simply chemically designed to spend her life as a lone wolf, having oddball adventures and focusing on her career as a journalist. And maybe Barney, who loves children, is meant to end up with a woman who wants them too (which he might, down the line… hopefully post-2016, if this is an indicator).
Of course, maybe it’s actually not a trick, they do get married, the Buenos Aires trip is just some kind of weekend getaway, and our skepticism is all just nonsense. All possible. We just don’t believe we can take anything from How I Met Your Mother at face value.