How I Met Your Mother recap: Lessons in Pole Vaulting

Robin gets some devastating news and Ted wins us over once again
Ep. 12 | Aired Dec 5, 2011

<p><p><p><p>HOW I MET YOUR FATHER? Not so much...</p></p></p></p>

I thought Robin was going to lose the baby.

After talking with Carter Bays last week, I was totally convinced that was the sad, horrible fate that awaited Robin and Barney, who I predicted would be the father. I was correct on one account -- Barney would have been the father. If there had been a baby. But there wasn't. Bullet dodged? Not so much. More like, bullet through the unsuspecting heart.

We were all eagerly anticipating the conclusion to last week’s episode, which left us on a doozy of a cliffhanger -- Robin told Barney she was preggo. This week opened with what we thought was the answer to all we’d been wondering. And it was the answer some of us had been wanting.

Robin, heard only in voice-over, was sitting in front of a couch talking to two teenagers, Ted-style. “Kids, have I ever told you about how I met your father? Well, I’ll just skip ahead to the moment I told him I was pregnant,” she told them. I smiled. And not just any smile -- one of those big, dorky smiles that usually precedes the words, "…and then they lived happily ever after." Spoiler alert: Barney and Robin wouldn't. (At least, by the end of the episode.)

Back in our present-day timeline, we returned to the bathroom immediately following the news. Barney was on the floor. Had he passed out? No. His face just met Robin's Canuck-le after a choice comment. ("Barney, I'm pregnant." "Are you sure you're not just getting fat?") Um, twice. ("So you're pregnant… looks like nobody told your boobs.")

Once the violence stopped (make love, not… oh, wait, they did!), they got a moment to chat: Robin wasn't sure she was pregnant but took pride in her punctual uterus and claimed pregnancy was the only explanation. "That's… wonderful," Barney said. Then it was Robin's turn to kiss the bathrug.

Later, at the bar, Robin asked Barney to keep their secret, well, a secret. She didn't want kids. Never in a million years. ("Sorry, kids," future Robin told the teens, one of whom, by the way, was blond and suited up. Ha!) A trip to We B Babies didn't even help melt the icy exterior of Robin's reservations. "I want to show you that kids are nothing to be afraid of," Barney said of their field trip. But his positive thinking and encouragement was no match for Lily's dark tails of nipple butter and… other things. Sorry, even I don't want to think about the rest of it. It's more disturbing than Ted's memory of a gender-confused, yet-non-commercialized Santa.

So Barney was holding the flag for parenthood… until he ran into Insane Duane, his former BFF and wingman-turned-overworked-father. Suddenly, Barney jumped off the Parent Express and joined Robin in Doubtsville. At the doctor's office the next day, they got good news: There was no baby on board. Naturally, they held a impromptu dance party to celebrate!!

But Robin's cigar-filled, liquor-drowned gloat-fest was short-lived. An unexpected follow-up call came days later as she sat alone at home watching Teen Mom. It was the doctor: the tests revealed not only was she not pregnant, but that she never would be.

And just like that, everything Robin thought she didn't want held a different value. That changed things. Babies became "cute as crap" and she became unable to fend off the charms of giant rosy cheeks and tiny maple-leafed onesies. She saw everything she could never have -- biologically speaking. (Part of me thinks all she needed to do was spend 30 seconds with ding-dong-photographing Scotty, the awful neighborhood boy who trapped Marshall on the roof of his new house, to change her mind yet again. We'll never know…)

When prompted, she simply told her friends that she was upset after learning that she'd never be a "pole vaulter." (In this case, we had to apply the special HIMYM rule of suspended disbelief because, in the real world, absolutely no one would have believed this excuse.) Everyone's reaction to her shattered pole-vaulting dreams varied, as she predicted. Ted tried to stuff her face, Lily cried, Barney told awkward jokes, and Marshall tried problem solving.

It was sweet watching them all rally around her. I will always maintain that the best moments are the ones that display how much they care about each other (which is also why I loved the ending, more on that in a bit). And it was clear, once again, that they cared deeply for their friend, no matter how far-fetched or unreasonably her "pole-vaulting dreams" had been.

While all this bad news was going on, I, as a viewer, held on to the fact that she would eventually have children. After all, we saw her talking to them at the beginning of the episode. During last night's most wrenching movements, I remembered chatting with executive producers Carter Bays and Craig Thomas last season after Marshall's dad's death, and them telling me that they didn't feel scared about taking the characters on a sometimes-sad journey because, since we're being told the story from the future, we know they all get through the tough times. That, they said, was comforting. And I agreed. So during this episode, I held on to that. Robin's fine. She has kids. It's sad now, but she's happy later. It'll be fine. I'll be fine. This will all be fine.

But then the rug was pulled out from under us and onto our faces we fell: The end of the episode revealed Robin was only imagining her future children -- and that she never had any.

NEXT: Upsetting.

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