09/24/2013 12:42 am ET Updated Nov 23, 2013

'How I Met Your Mother' Season Premiere Recap: Ted Finally Meets The Mother (Kind Of)

Spoiler Alert: Do not read on if you have not yet seen Season 9, Episodes 1 and 2 of CBS' "How I Met Your Mother," titled "The Locket" and "Coming Back."

Finally, it's time for Ted to meet the Mother. The search to meet her has always revolved around the intimate moments in all of Ted's relationships and the complicated coincidences it takes to get to those moments.

So now, we've made it. But not until the last three minutes of the two-episode premiere of the show's ninth and final season.

Show creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas braced fans for the extended goodbye by warning them that the entire arc would take place in the 55 hours leading up to the wedding, but that it would include flashbacks, rewinds and maybe one last trip down Robin Sparkles' Canadian Lane (we can dream, can't we?).

When we last saw the gang, Ted was moving/running away to Chicago the day after Robin and Barney's wedding. Lily and Marshall were moving to Rome a week after the nuptials -- until they possibly weren't anymore due to Marshall's new judgeship -- and the married-couple-to-be were about to live happily ever after in their own twisted version of wedded bliss, even without Robin's lost locket. Now, everyone's on their own journey to get to Farhampton in time to say "I do."

Robin and Barney take a limo with Ranjit only to discover that they could possibly be cousins -- they're not -- a minor plot point that only seems to exist to throw an incredible "Game of Thrones" reference into the show. Of course Barney thinks King Joffrey is a fair and wise leader!

Classic "HIMYM" plotlines turn what you thought were molehills into mountains, and when Lily just cannot stand being in Ted's super slow car ride for "Lil and Ted's Excellent Adventure" to Long Island, she bolts to the nearest train, only to become the first member of the gang to meet Ted's future wife. Naturally, they hit it off over Sumbitch cookies (coming to your neighborhood bakery soon). The as-yet-unnamed Mother talks Lily down from opening a photo that would reveal Marshall's still-secret desire to stay in New York and become a judge.

The journey to find Ted's wife has grown into the entire group's search to fill the empty sixth seat at McLaren's. Now that we know who she is and what she looks like, it's easy to believe that Cristin Milioti will one day be sitting on that big ol' front porch with the rest of the gang, "eating a sandwich" and reminiscing about memories we'll forget she wasn't part of.

Marshall and baby Marvin's whereabouts were the major weak link in the two-episode season premiere. They were stuck in Minnesota, trying to make their way back to New York in time for the wedding, only to have their easy flight plans foiled by Sherri Shepherd, playing the same character she always plays, this time named Daphne. There's no doubt they'll make it there in time, but as Vulture's Margaret Lyons noted, "It's not that interesting to watch Marshall stranded among strangers." It would be much more compelling to watch him count down the slap clock or discuss breakfast food and flatulence with Lily. Sigh.

And then there were the last three minutes of "Coming Home." More than a few viewers shed tears, according to Twitter, as future Ted and the Mother sat at the same table as present-day, lonely Ted. He's finally ... finally! ... truly in love with a woman who shares his love of driving gloves, seven-hour road trip detours and, well, love. It's just enough to give hope that the final season will do justice to the complicated and legen-wait-for-it-dary "HIMYM" world.

Random things we want more of:
  • Wayne Brady singing Kenny Rogers
  • Variations on Lily's "sonofabitch" slogan
  • "Ring bear" build up
  • Monstrosity Sport car commercials
  • Lily saying "lady boners"
  • "Lady Tedweena Slowsby"
  • The Mother's children's book inspired by Lily saying "unicorn" and "lonely" on the train
Moments we can do without:
  • The origin story of the Stinson curse (They have an "unquenchable thirst for booty" because they hit a gypsy? Eh.)
  • "Shucksy Doodles"
  • Marshall's mom's social media inadequacy
  • Emphasis spent on Lily chewing gum for the first time

"How I Met Your Mother" airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

Now that we're well on our way to solving every bit of the Mother of all puzzles, what did you think of these episodes? What's in store for Ted now that we know who the Mother is? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

How I Met Your Mother