How I Met Your Mother returned Monday night amid swirling rumors of a renewal for a ninth season.  The episode was slow to build but finished with a bang.

In the last episode Barney asked Robin to marry him.  She said yes, but there’s one problem:  he never asked Mr. Sherbatsky for permission.  Robin’s father (also named Robin and played by the perfectly casted Ray Wise) has always been a rather scary individual, and the Barney was not looking forward to the idea of asking for Robin’s hand in marriage.  However, when they get to the restaurant to meet up with he claims to be “fun now.”  He met a woman named Carol at a Jimmy Buffett concert and it supposedly has lightened him up.  Nevertheless, when Barney gets one on one with Mr. Sherbatsky, he reverts back to his scary self and says permission is denied.

Meanwhile back at the apartment, Lily and Ted were working on planning the wedding.  Lily says Robin wanted to get a band, while Ted was adamant about hiring a DJ.  It was clear that Ted’s strong feelings about the DJ were just a thinly veiled metaphor for his feelings for Robin.  Lily and Ted went up to the roof to talk about it.  Ted was trying to tell himself that he was ok with everything, but when he got the text that Robin and Barney were engaged it really felt like getting kicked in the balls and being mauled by a goat wrapped into one (a hilarious montage of Ted moments ensued). 

When Robin decides to accept a facebook friend request from her dad, she finds out that not only is her father with Carol, he is married to her.  She confronts him about it and is really hurt that he wouldn’t tell her about it.  How could he run off and get married and then disapprove of the engagement to Barney?  Mr. Sherbatsky finally apologizes to Robin and says that he wants to give her away.

Ted finally realizes he needs to let Robin get a band.  It turns out it was the best decision of his life.  They flash forward four months, and the band they hired had cancelled on them.  Ted runs into Cindy (Rachel Bilson) on the subway and is telling her all about it.  Cindy says that she just had brunch with her old roommate, a bass player, and that her band’s gig fell through for that weekend.  Of course, that bass player turns out to be Ted’s future wife.

I predicted in my last article that we would get at least one more close run-in with the mother before finally meeting her.  We got to see her arm clutching the bass guitar in the flash forward to the wedding at the end of the episode.  I have a feeling this may be the last time we see her until Ted finally meets her.  It was generally accepted that would happen in the last episode of this season, presumably the last episode of the series.  With the rumor mill abuzz about a HIMYM season 9, would that change?   CBS’s Nina Tassler said, "It’s funny, we talked the other day, ‘Will people watch the show beyond knowing the mother?’ I bet there are a lot of people that would continue to watch after that. But right now, it’d be the end as designed by (HIMYM co-creators) Carter and Craig, and I wouldn’t want to even attempt to undermine what their creative goal was."  That sure makes it sound like a season 9 could delay the eventual meeting of the mother, which I and millions of other fans were really looking forward to happening this spring.  I’m guessing we’ll know a lot more after the next week.

The legend continues Monday 8/7c on CBS.