After a run of 9 long seasons, How I Met Your Mother had its final season premiere on September 23rd with “The Wildcard,” the first of a two-part opener. Winding down the long road to finally meeting “The Mother,” which happily coincides with Barney and Robin’s wedding, the crew are scattered about in the final 55 hours before the big day. Ted and Lily are making a road trip from Manhattan to Farhampton, where the wedding will take place, but Ted’s crazy antics, which include driving unnervingly under the speed limit, wearing driving gloves, and making frivolous stops at obscure historical sites along the way, drive Lily to madness and she resorts to taking the train instead.
Meanwhile, Barney and Robin are on their way to Farhampton in a limo, using the ride as a opportunity to discuss some of the crazy family members they’ve invited, all the while wondering which of them will be the wildcard to ruin the wedding. Upon describing some of their cooky relations, they realize share a crazy lumberjack cousin and begin to panic about the possibility that they might be related and committing incest. They try to come to terms with this unsettling possibility but can’t fully get passed it. By the end of the episode, Robin’s grandmother thankfully calls to clear up the confusion, confirming that she and Barney share no DNA. Ever the suave gent, Barney diffuses the strain by reassuring Robin, “Our wedding is going to be legendary.” She asks, “No ‘wait for it?'” To which he so smoothly replies, “”I have you. I don’t have to wait for it.” They have another small scare when Robin hesitantly reveals to Barney that James, Barney’s inspiration on true love, is getting divorced.
Not one to be left of out the excitement, Marshall is on a flight from Minnesota to the wedding with baby Marvin when he sees his mother has posted a picture of his son online which reveals the new job offer as a judge he has accepted without Lily’s knowledge. In his panic to get his mother to remove the picture before Lily sees it, Marshall gets himself and another passenger kicked off the flight. He manages to get the photo deleted but must now race to fill the only remaining seat on a flight to New York that will get him to the wedding in time. In the second half, he and the woman he got kicked off the flight share a cab ride to their respective destinations in New York.
On the train, Lily is comforted by a complete (and cute) stranger, who–as Ted’s narrations reveals–is The Mother! Upon complaining about all of Ted’s annoying driving habits (some of which The Mother shares), Lily realizes he deliberately drove her away so that he could go track down a sentimentally valued locket he intends to give to Robin as a wedding gift, with the slim hope of winning her back. Lily rushes to get to Robin before Ted so he doesn’t ruin the wedding, but when he gets there he gives Robin a different gift and Lily is reassured he won’t do anything crazy, even though (unbeknownst to her) he flew out to LA only four days earlier to retrieve the locket from his ex Stella. That leaves us wondering what Ted is really up to.
After building her up for so long, the promise of finally meeting The Mother, and seeing how perfectly matched she is with Ted, drives the excitement and anticipation for this final season as everything else comes full circle for all of these beloved characters.