After Ted told Robin he loves her in last week’s episode I think we all groaned out loud in fear that How I Met Your Mother was going down that path again. But then I reminded everyone that the show needed to confront the Ted-Robin-Barney love triangle. It could have taken weeks for the writers to get around to the three of them figuring out who loves whom. Or…they could have jumped right into it.
“No Pressure” starts immediately after Ted tells Robin he loves her, but she has to head to Russia immediately, and everything seems like it’s going to work out. No one really wants to see them together anymore except a small fraction of fans and Marshall, and even we all know they won’t and can’t end up together. Luckily, the episode doesn’t go down that rabbit hole and provides a poignant closing of the Ted and Robin saga.
Even though it is such a heavy topic in HIMYM-lore, the episode surprisingly splits the saga up with the revelation that Marshall and Lily have been making bets on the rest of the gang for a decade. A lot of them are witty and allow for flashbacks to memorable episodes, and some of them even deal with the future of Ted and Robin.
I’m not a fan of all of the bets they made—particularly the most important one regarding whether or not Ted and Robin will get married. It’s beautiful to see Marshall staying by Ted’s side even though he knows in his heart of hearts that it most likely will never happen. But Lily’s bet against them made her look really bad. We know she sort of broke them up when she planted the “where do you see yourself in five years” question in their heads, but to see her adamantly against them and even trying to sabotage Ted was pathetic. Hopefully she’ll rebound and make up for her lack of compassion soon.
The weight of the subject matter, as serious as it can be in a romantic comedy, is weaved in and out of the episode and doesn’t turn into a bummerfest. It’s something the writers have done so well over the years, and it’s pleasant to see that they still have the ability to pull our emotional strings and offset them with someone, primarily Barney, doing something ridiculous enough to remind us about the humor in life.
While it would have been easy to focus on the love triangle head on, the episode’s roundabout way allowed for Barney to search for something he’s always wanted to find: Marshall and Lily’s sex tape. His obsession leads to a lot of the revelations in this episode. Regardless that he was used as a living plot device, his silliness gave the story much needed breathing room. It was also great seeing Conan O’Brien in his much-anticipated non-speaking, only in the background cameo at MacLaren’s.
In the end Ted realizes what the future holds not only for him, but for Robin and Barney as well. It’s the lowest we’ve seen him in quite some time. It’s hard watching someone come to terms with the fact that he’ll never be with the woman he thought was the one. The writers have tried to close this chapter time and time again, but this time they slammed the door shut.
But we must have hope for Ted finding his future wife sometime soon. As Florence + the Machine reminds us as Ted heads out of his apartment with his head held high, “It’s always darkest before the dawn.”