'How I Met Your Mother' recap: The Wildcard

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Image Credit: Richard Cartwright/CBS

We’re officially on the road to the end of How I Met Your Mother. And after Monday’s season premiere, I can say with more conviction than ever that I hope this is a journey that goes slower than a roadtrip with Lady Tedwina Slowsby. Because I’m not ready to say goodbye. Not yet.

Luckily, there’s an entire season ahead of us, and, as you might have guessed when the show announced that the season would take place in the 55 hours leading up to Robin and Barney’s wedding, we’ll be making lots of small stops along the way.

Spoilers ahead!

In this two-episode season opener, for example, we started off with the stories of the gang’s respective journeys to Barney and Robin’s wedding. Ted put on his driving gloves and planned to drive Lily; Marshall — who was returning from a trip to Minnesota with Marvin — was scheduled to fly into town (more on that in a bit); and Barney and Robin were driven by Ranjit. (RANJIT!) Simple as the set-up may seem, things soon got complicated.

Most entertaining was Lily’s refusal to entertain Ted’s desire to use their roadtrip as a chance to have “Lil and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.” She — like any normal human being — didn’t think a trip to the house of Florian Von Otterloo was a great use of their time. Ted successfully drove Lily so mad with his quirks — among them his refusal to “kick it up to 50″ while driving — that she opted to take the train to Farhampton.

Later, we learned that Ted intended for Lily to take the train so that he would have an opportunity to give Robin The Locket. Yes, that Locket, which he’d retrieved from Stella’s Los Angeles storage unit and brought with him to the wedding. When Lily thought he was going to do it, he faked her out by giving Robin a photo of the gang. He assured Lily that he didn’t plan to give Robin the locket — but we know Ted better than that.

Taking the train ended up not being so bad for Lily. In fact, it turned out to be the best decision ever — for us, especially. Because Lily got to meet The Mother on the train.

This was by far the night’s biggest treat because it was our first glimpse of one of Our Gang with The Mother — and it lived up to expectations in a way that was fun to watch and, honestly, a total relief. I mean, we’ve built up this woman so much, can you imagine the disappointment had the characters not had chemistry? Thankfully, that was not the case. They shared jokes and some otherwordly morsels called Sumbitch cookies and Lily even tried to bite her. Touching.

(Sidebar: I also liked the pauses Ted took to explain how he and The Mother are alike. (They both have driving gloves!) That’s not a new thing — Ted has made pauses like that in the past. But I didn’t realize until that scene that some of our favorite HIMYM gags are actually going to help us get to know The Mother faster than I anticipated. I love that.)

Meanwhile, Marshall spent both episodes on his own adventure that was far from excellent. In the first half  hour, he got kicked off a plane after getting into an altercation with a woman on the plane named Daphne, played by Sherri Shepherd. It wasn’t my favorite storyline — mainly because I hate plane travel as much as I hate annoying people on planes. So this hit a nerve. I will say that the plotline was tolerable/almost charming by the end of the second episode, when Marshall and Daphne decided they’d rent a car together so they could get to their respective New York destinations.

I’m shocked it’s taken me this long to get to Barney and Robin but there was so much action here. The first episode found the pair worried they were related by blood after realizing they shared a crazy cousin. (Damn you, Canada!) In the end, they realized they shared no DNA (phew!) but this plotline was less about an Are We Related?! scare and more about wedding wildcards. Barney and Robin discovered they shared a cousin when they were talking about people who had the potential to ruin their wedding. And once the scare was over, they both rested easy, deciding that no matter what their crazy families did, they’d have a great wedding. (Later, they had another scare, when James revealed he and his husband — the one couple who Barney claims makes him believe in love — were getting a divorce. But Barney actually took the news better than anticipated.) The real problem? Future Ted indicated that it wasn’t Robin and Barney’s families who were going to turn the wedding upside-down — it was him.

So where does this leave us? For one, wondering what the heck Ted is going to do that makes him The Wildcard. Also, wondering how Ted goes from a pining fool to a man who one year later is deeply in love with the future mother of his children. If that flash forward scene between Ted and The Mother is any indication, it’s going to be a wonderful ride. Put on your driving gloves!

In the Things I Have To See Files: A ‘ring bear’ and Lily’s next tackle

Quotes of the night:
Barney: Our wedding is going to be legendary
Robin: No waitforit?
Barney: I’ve got you. I don’t have to wait for it anymore…

One Year Later Ted: I’ll be right back.
The Mother: I’ll be right here.

Favorite Easter Egg: That Ted gave Robin a photo of the gang from the first season.

Guest star MVP: Roger Bart, who played the hotel clerk.

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