In the How I Met Your Mother (HIMYM) universe, every great romance needs two things; chemistry and timing. Barney and Robin have the undeniable chemistry, but the timing, well, not so much. With the current season billed as “Robin-centric” and the promise of Barney actually tying the knot a little ways down the road, viewers know to expect something big from the February sweeps episodes, but does big necessarily mean good?
*******MAJOR EPISODE SPOILERS*******
On a Valentine’s Day weekend away, Kevin stuns Robin, and HIMYM’s viewers, with a romantic proposal of marriage. Things get awkward, and Robin asks him to put the ring away. Later, Robin confesses her infertility to Marshall and Lily, then admits she loves Kevin and wants to accept his proposal. She decides to come clean about her infertility, and asks Kevin if he still wants to propose. He still does, and Robin, for reasons we are not privy to, accepts.
Meanwhile, back in New York, Barney serves as wingman for Ted and encounters Quinn, a lovely young woman who doesn’t fall for his schemes. Is she Nora 2.0 or is working from her own playbook? In either event, the guys move on to greener pastures, the sure pickings of the last train out to Long Island, dubbed the Drunk Train. Even there, Barney and Ted strike out. Ted suspects that Quinn has shaken Barney’s game and encourages Barney to pursue her.
When Kevin tells Robin that his family has already gone ahead and started wedding preparations, Robin reminds him that they won’t be having children. Kevin doesn’t mind that Robin can’t have biological children and offers the alternatives of adoption or surrogacy. Robin cuts him off. That’s not the issue. Not only can she not have children, but she doesn’t want any, by any means. If Kevin marries Robin, then Kevin will never have children, period. Kevin offers his proposal yet again.
Later that evening, Barney, en route to an assignation with another woman, stops the cab and informs his companion they won’t be going forward with their plans. Does Barney have a girlfriend or something, she asks? Or something, Barney admits, on a cryptic note.
Cut to a distraught Robin, smoking a cigarette, on the roof of her building. Ted approaches her, ready to give comfort, and she’s going to need it. Robin tearfully confesses that Kevin un-proposed, unable to look past the issue of a life without children. She asks Ted who could look past something that important, and the answer brings the second big shock of the night for Robin. Ted could. He loves her.
The last scene of the episode reveals Quinn and another woman discussing Quinn’s involvement with Barney. Sure, Quinn likes Barney’s apartment and his money, but not the man himself. Quinn’s friend is surprised that Barney doesn’t remember Quinn, but there the conversation is cut short. Quinn has to go to work…as a stripper named Karma. Uh oh. Barney knew a stripper named Karma, referenced in season three’s “The Bracket,” who would have motive to get revenge on him, but wasn’t she stripping in Vegas?
While many Barney/Robin shippers have expressed displeasure over this episode, the romance-savvy among us know that it’s always darkest before the dawn, even when riding the drunk train. There’s too much story left untold to take this episode at face value. What could have changed Kevin’s mind that drastically in that short a time? Did Robin confess to sleeping with Barney? To loving Barney? Is it Quinn or Robin who is Barney’s “something"? Ted may love Robin, but is that romantic or something else? Stay tuned, HIMYM fans, because this is far from the end of the story.
Anna C. Bowling considers writing historical romance the best way to travel through time and make the voices in her head pay rent. She welcomes visitors to her blog, Typing With Wet Nails and to follow her at Twitter.