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"How I Met Your Mother" circled around and ended where it began in Monday's hourlong season finale, which was both incredibly annoying and rather satisfying.


Leading up to the finale, "HIMYM" spent the entire ninth season with episodes that took place on the weekend of Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) and Robin's (Cobie Smulders) wedding - 22 episodes in all - we quickly learned that it was all for nothing. With a couple of flash-forwards, it was just 17 minutes into the last episode that we learned that Barney and Robin got divorced three years after they got married.

Really? Seemed like more than a bit of a cheat.

We learned a lot more about the future. That Marshall (Jason Segal) eventually got to be a judge. That Lily (Alyson Hannigan) had a third baby. That Robin became a big TV news star. That Barney finally found a girl he could love forever - a daughter he had with a one-night stand.

That the Mother's name was Tracy McConnell (Cristin Milioti). That Tracy and Ted were together for seven years and had two kids before they got married.

As many suspected, the story of how Ted met Tracy was told posthumously. We didn't get details, but by the time Ted was telling his teenagers the story of how he met their mother, she'd been dead for six years.

And then we came to the close of the circle, because Ted's kids refused to believe that the story (told over nine seasons and 208 episodes) was really about how their father met their mother.

"You made us sit down and listen to this story about how you met Mom, and yet Mom is hardly in the story," said his daughter. "This is a story about how you are totally in love with Aunt Robin."

And, yeah, it was. Not that Ted didn't love Tracy, but he was clearly still carrying a torch for Robin. Not a torch - a blue French horn.

In Episode 1, Ted fell for Robin and stole a blue French horn - a wall decoration - from the restaurant where they had dinner. Robin and her pack of dogs looked down to the street to see Ted with the horn.

In Episode 208, Robin had a new pack of dogs, but the series ended with her looking down at Ted holding the blue French horn.

We're not sure they'll end up together, but that certainly seems likely. Earlier in the episode, Robin referred to Ted as "the guy I probably should have ended up with."

It was a good finale. Not a great finale, but a good one.

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