When it comes to How I Met Your Mother, I’m a Swarkles fan all the way. From the first season they’ve been a startlingly good match that came from left field (which is my favorite way for any OTP to begin). Yet I’ve seen enough reruns to realize where Team Ted gets its steam, and even I wasn’t thrilled with the rushed rekindling for BRotp at the end of last season. With only two seasons remaining, the writers are promising to wrap up their story once and for all. I suspect we’ll see a Robin-Barney happy ending, but even I’m not sure if it will be the right one.
Ted VS Barney
Originally I was not a fan of the Ted/Robin relationship because, as the show stated, they want completely different things. Ted’s this mushy, lovestruck type, while Robin is more independent and somewhat anti-status-quo. His grand romantic gestures seem a bit pushy and awkward towards a chick who isn’t looking for a picket fence scenario. The impression I got was one of those relationships where the guy is with a reluctant girl and therefore becomes determined to have the unattainable and the girl is afraid to reject the rare perfect-boyfriend type…even if she knows the timing is all wrong. Compare that with Barney, a character with a more similar lifestyle and self-interest. That’s what makes them match, but the idea of commitment-phobes falling in love with each other is where it got interesting.
Except they break the relationship not long after it begins. Both characters move on, though only Robin seems to mourn the loss. Meanwhile, Robin’s character has changed so much that it’s no longer clear that she isn’t a good match for Ted. Several times she mentions that she still hopes Ted will be available when she’s ready to marry (the episode where he almost married Stella, their “if we’re single at forty” pact, and most recently in False Positive, when Robin asks if Ted will be her best man “if I ever get married and you’re not the guy I’m marrying”). They have a deeply romantic past (which wouldn’t be as uncomfortable for the newer, softer Robin) and when she thinks of marriage she thinks of Ted, though they’ve been apart for years. Suddenly their connection seems to have a lot more depth, while her relationship with Barney seems a bit less appealing. As she becomes more romantic, his single antics seem to frustrate her even as Ted’s reliability remains attractive.
So what about Barney? Season six the character does seem to be thinking romantically about Robin as he comes to terms with his abandonment issues, though nothing as overt as his crush in season 4. Robin shows impatience with Barney’s inability to commit to Nora, which doesn’t suggest that she wants him for herself. Actually she supports him throughout the season, more than the other characters, but is this a hint of lingering feelings or just residual closeness since they are so alike? I wasn’t sure. Yet the two of them become inspired to be together during the very last episode. Since I couldn’t recall any prior hints for Robin’s feelings, it felt thrown together; more like a weak moment between vulnerable exes than any realization of a romantic story arc.
Why am I bothering with this? Obviously “Aunt Robin” can’t marry Ted, and I wouldn’t want her to. I’m trying to point out that if the writers really want fans to be satisfied with a Barney-Robin End Game, they might have to step up their storyline.
Admission time: I started this post after the last season ended, and now the new series has premiered. Based on the Swarkles-centric first episode, I feel that at least some of my doubts have been addressed. If Robin showed a friendly interest last season, she certainly nurses deeper feelings now. It seems as though it’s her turn to suffer the pangs of unrequited love. The couple was the most fun to watch when Barney was pining away, so this seems like a good move. And though I still think Barney will marry Robin, I don’t think Robin is the bride at that wedding.
At least not initially. That might be a surprising thing to say, but come on, the whole “did I pick the right tie?” thing? Like many fans, I’ve had my doubts about a traditional wedding being appropriate for Barney. Craig Thomas has said that Barney will end the day married. If it happens in that church, I suppose I can rationalize that he has shown some potential for it. Pre-Shannon Barney was even more sappy than Ted and there’s that sentimental side that we still see occasionally.
However, if he does choose Robin, I’d believe second thoughts about marriage itself before second thoughts about her versus another girl, which is what the tie question suggests. I just assume that Robin is the one he inspiring those second thoughts. Besides, a character like proper Nora would require a conventional ceremony, but I’m less certain that Robin would.
This is a lot of conjecture that might amount to thin air. Spoilers indicate that there will be more options for both Barney and Robin to consider, so it isn’t as if I have all the information. I still believe that Barney and Robin = End Game. I just want to enjoy the road that takes us there—not just the destination.