By Sandra Gonzalez
April 01, 2014 at 12:00 PM EDT

WARNING: If you haven’t seen tonight’s series finale of How I Met Your Mother, you’ve probably already been spoiled by Twitter. But in case you haven’t, there are spoilers in this article. So don’t read if you don’t want to know what happens.

Friends, we’ve been told an incredible, nine-year story — the story of how Ted Mosby met the Mother of his children…

then the Mother died and he ended up with Robin because she divorced Barney three years after they got married. Seriously.

Look, I would have slap bet on the fact that the series finale of How I Met Your Mother was going to have twists and turns and reveals. But I feel like I was just hit by a bus, Barney-style.

It will take me days, weeks, and possibly years to sort through the this finale properly. Maybe I’ll write a book called How I Met My Manic Depression. Until then, let’s get on with with this recap business.

Fittingly, we began the episode with a flashback to September 2005, when some girl from the third-world banana republic called Canada (literally never heard of that place…) tried to steal Barney Stinson’s wingman, Ted Mosby. This Canadian was named Roxanne Robin. She was fresh to New York, fresh to the art of wingmandom (it’s a word) and looking for some friends. Luckily, she had found herself in the right booth, in the right bar, in the best city in the world. “Once you’re in, you’re in for life,” Lily told her with a smile. Only rule, warned Lily to her dudes: “Robin’s my new best friend. Nobody bangs her…There’s only one way I’d let one of you have sex with her…The only way you’re allowed to hook up with her is if you marry her.”

Flash-forward to the wedding, where Barney and Robin were freshly hitched, and Ted was trying to make a clean getaway because his move to Chicago was still a thing. But making a clean break from Barney wasn’t easy. For one, Barney was convinced that he had a great girl for Ted to meet. One last game of Haaaaaave You Met Ted?, he said. But Ted had to go, so Barney decided they had to say goodbye properly.

They stepped outside for one last gathering of the bar gang. It’s been a “major pleasure,” said Ted to Robin, with a salute. (Of course.) Lily bawled her eyes out. Heck, I bawled my eyes out. And Barney? He shared with Ted a high-five that would echo throughout eternity. A high-five that contained all the high-fives from the past and all the high-fives that could ever possibly take place. One epic, hand-injuring high-five called a High Infinity. It was worth it.

With that, Ted set off for the train, where we know his journey took a major turn. Only the actual moment — Ted’s first conversation with the Mother — was not something we’d see right away. In fact, we’d really have to…waitforit.

Instead, we jumped to 2015, where Ted was discussing with Robin and Barney his plans for his wedding to the Mother. It involved a hot air balloon. And a castle. Because, Ted. All extravagant affairs were put on hold, however, when the Mother barged into the bar with urgent news. She couldn’t marry Ted in September, she said — by then, she clarified, she wouldn’t fit into her dress. Yup, she was getting a boob job she was pregnant.

At this point, Barney and Robin were well into their married life, and, we learned everything was great. Really, great. No, honestly, it was great. Except not at all. Much of their troubles stemmed from the fact that Robin was traveling a lot for her job and Barney was struggling with the distance. Part of me wanted Barney to man up and deal with his wife’s success. Another part of me…no. I’m lying. There was only that part. Barney had evolved or should have. Their issues were simply a bump in the road. They turned out, however, to be a tire-popping pot hole.

Months later,  the gang gathered to meet Ted’s new daughter and update each other on their lives. Marshall was once again working in corporate law and miserable, Lily was pregnant again (Barney was the first to notice) and, oh yeah, Barney and Robin were divorced. Not getting divorced. Already divorced. Done. For good. I’ll admit it: I was crushed. But more on that later.

Plot-wise, this divorce changed everything, and what followed were easily some of the hardest minutes of How I Met Your Mother I’ve ever watched.

You see, after Barney and Robin divorced, despite their promise to stay in touch and be there for the “big moments,” as Lily described them, things changed.

Newly single-again Barney reverted to his playboy ways, but to those around him, the old tricks had loss their charm. Additionally, seeing Barney hitting on women and Ted with his beautiful wife proved too much for Robin. In a confrontation with a very pregnant Lily in the empty apartment during a Halloween/Farewell Apartment party (yes, she and Marshall decided they had to move), Robin admitted that the “gang” was no longer a “gang” she could be around. “Do you know who the gang is to me, Lily? Here’s what the gang is: The gang is a married couple who I never see anymore about to have a third kid, it’s my ex-husband hitting on slutty cops right in front of me and it’s the guy I probably should have ended up with with the beautiful mother of his child. Who in their right mind would call that group of people ‘the gang’?”

Lily took that statement exactly how I did in the moment — friendship over. But that wasn’t the case, Robin swore. “We’ll always be friends, it’s just never going to be how it was. It can’t be. And that doesn’t have to be a sad thing.”

Except it is. And Robin just Daggered my heart. (Pun intended.)

Lily stood in her white whale costume in the empty apartment, stunned, with tears streaming down her face. Dead mother included, this was the worst gut-punch of the hour.

But here’s where, in reflection, I’ll admit that Robin was right: Things can’t stay the same forever. They aren’t meant to stay the same.

Credit: Everett Collection
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Ted, Robin, Barney, Marshall, and Lilly remind us all of the joy of slap bets
  • TV Show
  • 7
  • 09/19/05
  • Off Air
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