By Sandra Gonzalez
Updated September 19, 2011 at 12:00 PM EDT

Image Credit: Karen Neal/FoxThe creators of How I Met Your Mother, Carter Bays and Craig Thomas, had promised that this season would once again make us care about Ted’s hunt for love. I honestly wasn’t sure how they were going to do it, considering I had been so invested in everyone except Ted for a few seasons. At the end of last season, I cared more about Barney and Robin; Barney and Nora; and Lily and Marshall than I had cared about Ted in years. It was a tough task ahead. Then I watched tonight’s two new episodes, and, by God, they did it. But before I tell you how, let’s rewind. [Spoilers ahead, y’all! Don’t continue unless you’ve seen the season premiere of How I Met Your Mother.]

The first half hour took us to two weddings: Barney’s and Punchy’s. (In the grand tradition of Ted’s ADD storytelling, he flashed back to Barney’s wedding before flashing back within that flashback to Punchy’s wedding. Still aboard? Good.) For me, the stars of part 1 were Barney and Robin. Robin, for her “truth voice” and that scene where she helped Barney talk to Nora on the phone. And Barney, for his hilarious bad pick-up attempts. (My favorite was the vampire. I’m not sure why, but vampire NPH was completely adorable.) Also, that dance? I will be dancing that in the next EW talent show.* (*This doesn’t exist, but I wish it did.)

Moving on, the second episode found us in the aftermath of Marshall’s drinking binge (=hangover) and worried that a background check for his new job would lead his possible future employers to a video of naked, college-age Marshall as “Beercules.” In this episode, we also welcomed Martin Short to the cast. (He’ll be popping up again soon for a longer appearance.) Meanwhile, Barney confessed many of his schemes to Nora in an attempt to clear the air with her (but it only ended up pushing her away), and Ted attempted to choose between two girls to find a date to an architect ball. Barney’s persistence with Nora eventually paid off in the form of a second date, and it even inspired Ted to abandon the idea of “choosing” a girl. He instead said he’d look for someone who would instantly feel like the one and only choice. It was a sweet sentiment.

But the warm and fuzzies didn’t finish there. In the final minutes, we were thrown a curve ball. At the architect ball, where Robin was Ted’s date, Ted saw, through the parting crowd, pastry chef Victoria (Ashley Williams) from season 1. Yes, Victoria, who I absolutely loved! Frustratingly, the episode ended there. But I can’t wait until next week.

So here are some questions to get the discussion started:

+ How do you feel about Victoria’s reappearance? (Me? I LOVE it!)

+ Did you see that Lenny Kravitz thing coming from a mile away?

+ Which was the better episode 1 highlight: The phone call or the dance?

+ Did you like the peeks of what we have to come, like Marshall at the casino, and the duck tie?

+ And what do you think of the direction the season is headed? Promising? Personally, I think this could be the best season yet.

+ Thank you for reminding me, Matt (in comments)! Was the end of first episode a huge clue about Barney’s bride? Why would the bride want to talk to Ted? She has to know him! Does this mean it’s Robin?

Share more of your thoughts with me on Twitter: @EWSandraG

Episode Recaps

''Um. Why is Jon Cryer in NPH's spot?" says commenter MKS. ''How can the Emmys ignore Barney's tear-jerking yet touchingly funny journey with his reunion…

How I Met Your Mother

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