Oh, How I Met Your Mother. I have loved you through thick and thin, and yet, this season you've made it so difficult. I know the writer's strike came along and msesed things up, but really, the lack of direction and actual plot development in this season has been inexcusable. When you remember that last season was the entire arc of Ted and Robin's relationship, plus the buildup to Lily and Marshall's wedding, it's ridiculous that the only thing that happened this season was Lily and Marshall attempting (and thus far) failing to move and a last-ditch attempt at the romance between Barney and Robin that deserved much better attention. Oh, and there's Stella, who is hard to get attached to since Sarah Chalke is committed to Scrubs for another season. Oh, and Britney's character comes hand in hand with her, which is even more bad news.

But I'm not really here to hate, even though tonight's episode, the season finale, left me with a bad taste in my mouth. As always, there were some laughs sprinkled in to mask the non-plot, so let's revisit those and try to ignore the lackluster, albeit plot-filled, story.

1. This one's more of a visual gag: Marshall running down the street carrying a Guitar Hero guitar. Guys, Ted was in a car accident! And while Lily and Robin look poised as they rush to Ted's hospital bed, Marshall is zipping up his pants and barely recovering from the fact that he had almost mastered “Livin' on a Prayer” when he got the call from the hospital. It turns out, though, that Ted is fine, snacking on Jello when everyone arrives. What's not fine is Ted's actual disposition, which finds meaning in everything and thinks that everything is about Ted, Ted, Ted. Which I guess is true, given that he's technically the star of the show, but I wish it weren't the case when he's being annoying like he was here. See, right before getting in his death-defying car accident, Ted broke up with Stella in a fit of non-committal panic when she invited him to her sister's wedding six months from now. Yes, this is the same Ted who spent season one on a hunt for a wife. But again, I'm not here to complain. When he gets in his wreck, Ted claims, his whole life flashes before his eyes, and he realizes he needs to be with Stella. She shows up at his bedside, they have sex, but as it turns out Stella didn't get the breakup memo-- because Ted broke up with her in the most pussy way possible! But before we see the resolution of this plot, I promised some jokes.

2. “A drunk jackass called God, and a box of pencils called destiny.” Marshall is convinced that Ted's survival is a miracle, and to prove to Robin that miracles do, in fact, exist, he lists some of his greatest miracle hits. The best is an incident back when Marshall, Ted and Barney were friends, and throwing pencils into the ceiling at McLaren's. Ted's pencil stuck, but soon fell down... and went straight up Barney's nose! Again, maybe more of a sight gag. The second best miracle was Marshall returning from a trip to Amsterdam in 1999, and getting paired up with a customs official who, lets just say, was also a friend of the illicit substances Marshall was carrying home.

3. “Yeah, but I'm your best brother, right?” Even though Ted doesn't want anything to do with Barney while he's at the hospital, Lily calls him, and Barney rushes to be there. It actually winds up being lucky that Barney gets hit by a bus right outside the hospital, since Ted is his emergency contact, and Ted then gets to rush to Barney's side. Thanks to Ted's newfound sappiness due to the accident, he and Barney immediately make up, and decide that they, plus Marshall, are all brothers. Grown-up Ted then says it got really sappy after that, and to skip ahead to later. See, a good HIMYM episode would have fast-forwarded through the sappiness, which hopefully would have included sing-alongs and braiding each others' hair. But again-- not complaining!

4. “A giant boob lactating scotch.” With Ted off to hunt down Stella and win her back, Marshall and Lily ask Barney if his life also flashed before his eyes, showing him everything he loved in this world. Lily and Marshall figure Barney saw boobs, scotch, money, boobs wearing a suit made of money, etc., but we see Barney gazing at an oblivious Robin, and realize that, now that the show is coming back next season, we'll get to see more of where that story goes. If they handle it better than they handled this damn episode, at least, I'll be on board. And now for our resolution...

5. An orange kangaroo. Ted finally tracks down Stella at Kiddie Funland, where she's spending the day with her daughter, and pulls Stella aside to hand her an orange kangaroo he won from a claw machine. Longtime fans of the show may remember an early episode that used a purple giraffe in a similar machine as a metaphor for Ted trying to get with Robin. This time, it turns out, Ted was trying to get her the giant diamond ring in the machine. And with that, he asks Stella to marry him.

So here we are on another summer hiatus, with the knowledge that the show will be back next season but me, at least, wondering whether it will be the same show that I love. Here are my requests for next season: Stella is not the mother. Barney and Robin keep things on a slow boil the way season one Ted and Robin did. And, this might be too much to ask, but let us meet the mother. And let us know it's the mother. It doesn't have to be the end of the show! I'd rather see a developing relationship between Ted and his future wife than meet her in the last-ever episode of the series. Maybe that's a little too Lost-style for a sitcom, flashing to the end before you get there, but it would make things interesting at least.

And that's it for these recaps for the summer! It's been a good, loooooong season, and I admit, I'm ready for a break. I hope you're ready for one too. Happy hiatus!
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