And after all that, we've arrived back at the scene we saw at the top of the Season 8 premiere (and, technically, the end of the Season 7 finale): Ted venturing into Robin's bridal chambers an hour before she gets hitched to Barney. Seems like only yesterday doesn't it? (Actually, it was almost two full years and many terrible episodes ago.) If you recall, Ted's responsibility is to calm the bride, but she's not much in the mood for that, freaking out over the suddenly very real fact that she's about to wed a serial philanderer with serious commitment issues and a no-longer cute catchphrase. She's particularly put out that he never found that heart locket she buried in Central Park, the one that Ted not-so-conveniently tracked down by bothering his many exes. In the interest of being Robin's white knight one last time, Ted gives the locket to Barney and prompts him to hand it over to his spouse-to-be under the pretense that he really had located it and was just waiting for the right moment to pass it along.
Because she's not a total idiot (even though the writers have been penning her that way for awhile now), Robin immediately sees through Barney's lame cover story and realizes Ted came to her rescue again. This, in turn, leads her to realize that maybe Ted is the one she should be marrying, which, if this were Season 1 or Season 2, would be a sentiment we'd heartily agree with. Now, though, NSM. Fortunately, Ted feels the same way and in one of the best, most honest scenes Josh Radnor has gotten the chance to play in far too long, he tells Robin, "I'm not that guy anymore," and launches into a soliloquy detailing the hows and whys of love being "the best thing we do." It's all a little too Aaron Sorkin-level mansplainy -- like, "Listen closely girl, because I, a man, am going to tell you how you should feel" -- to be honest, but it's a speech that's been a long time coming for Ted and Radnor nails it. So good job on giving that relationship some closure, Show. At least until next week when you reveal that the mother is dead in 2030 and Ted's about to wrap up his long-winded story by informing his kids that he's going to be marrying Aunt Robin. It's a real theory… look it up.
Meanwhile, down the hall, Marshall, Lily and Barney have been assigned comic relief duty, a task that requires Barney to run down the list of wedding vows the duo have broken during their marriage. Apart from a quick shot of Marshall throwing a pat of cream cheese on their bedroom wall (the better to schmear the morning bagel he tossed her way earlier), none of this is all that funny. But it does set the stage for two nice emotional payoffs: Lily and Marshall "revising" their vows in an empty chapel to have them conform to wedded bliss as it is rather than how they imagined it might be and Barney cornering Robin (who was prevented from fleeing the place altogether by a bit of full body contact with the elusive Mother) and revealing that his only vow is that he'll always be honest with her. And while we're dubious about that vow lasting longer than, say, the runtime of Empire Strikes Back, it's a nice sentiment.
And then Barney and Robin get married! Finally! No last minute diversions, no "And then this happened," digressions and no stampede of ring-bears. Just one final slap and then this pair of crazy-in-love kids gets hitched while their digitally composited family and friends look on happily from whichever greenscreen they're filming their reaction shots in front of. Frankly, we'd be perfectly happy if this was the finale, but there's still one more hour to go. Plenty of time to harsh our mellow.