On How I Met Your Mother, Barney's love for Robin will come to a head, Danny Glover will (sort of) guest star this season, and there will be some progress made on the search for the titular mother.
In his phone interview, HIMYM creator Carter Bays also reveals a thematic change for next season, how Alyson Hannigan and Cobie Smulders' pregnancies affect the show's production and that the yellow umbrella will make an appearance.
And although there are no specifics, Bays confirms that yes, absolutely a third Robin Sparkles video will be in HIMYM's future.
Check out highlights of Bay's HIMYM interview.
Robin & Barney
Will there be a turning point for Barney and Robin in the finale?
Bays: The finale we actually shot it in the beginning of January. It had to do with the pregnancies of a couple of our cast members. So we've written the dramatic climax to their story, so now we're kind of going back and having to write towards it. I'm very excited to eventually get there, but it's also a lot of fun figuring out how to slowly maneuver these characters closer and closer towards the inevitable.
Which is ..?
Bays: Which is they'd be … when one person likes another person, it's just capital "E," [sic] the inevitable. So we'll have to see what that is.
Will we be meeting "the mother" in the finale?
Bays: I'm not going to say one way or the other, just because it's a cool surprise, but the last few episodes will address the title of the show, which is How I Met Your Mother. We will be picking up some storylines that may have been dormant for a little while, and one of those is Ted's romantic life and his search for the woman who eventually is the mother of his kids.
What other storylines?
Bays: I'd almost rather not say because part of the fun of this show is that every now and then we get to reach into the grab bag of the four years of history that we built between the characters and pull things out that you might not have expected to see again or you've been waiting to see and wanting to come back.
Are we going to see the yellow umbrella come back this season?
Bays: We will see the yellow umbrella. The yellow umbrella will continue to be part of the show. That's probably all I should say about it.
What direction are you going next season?
Bays: There's a shift in setting to some degree. There will be a new world that some of the characters will enter that will bring us closer to meeting the mom. It will provide a new dynamic for a couple of the characters.
Guest stars: Danny Glover, et al
What guest stars can we expect to see this season?
Bays: Danny Glover is going to appear on the show in an interesting way. It's not exactly Danny Glover who is coming on our show, but Danny Glover will appear in the episode. I think that's the best way I can say, which I know is completely cryptic, but I'd like to save the joke if we can. That's coming up in a few weeks — March 30.
The obvious assumption would be that Barney and his brother have separate fathers. Is that it?
Bays: Well, that … boy I would have thought of that a month or so ago. It's better than what we came up with. (Read: No.)
Will Britney Spears come back?
Bays: We've made it a policy not to rule out anyone reappearing. I don't know if we can get Britney at this point.
Will we see Victoria again?
Bays: There's no character that you're never going to ever see again. I personally would love to see what happened to Victoria. It's nice knowing that we have that option, and perhaps someday we'd get around to it.
Pregnancies — Alyson Hannigan and Cobie Smulders
Did you consider the possibility that either Robin or Lily could be pregnant and writing that into the show?
Bays: When this opportunity came up, we thought, "Okay this could be interesting." We had the debate that married couples actually have: Would we not have all these great adventures if we had to watch after this kid? Eventually the decision we made was that we're not ready, not yet. We're still having fun. We're going to hold off on that until we've told every last "the gang goes to the bar and gets drunk" story that we can possibly think of.
How did you decide to fast-track production to accommodate pregnancies?
Bays: We didn't change our schedule so much. We got lucky in that both of them made it through most of the season. We only had to put on some flow-y sundresses and put funny things in the foreground and had a hot dog-eating contest [to hide their baby bumps a little]. Alyson shot her last stuff for the season about a week ago, so she's done. We still have four more to shoot. We shot some stuff in advance to get her through the season. There were a few things we had to re-jigger, but for the most part, we just took what we were given and dealt with it.
What did the actresses' pregnancies change in terms of the type of stories you wanted to tell for those characters?
Bays: Some we were able to tell. Like the episode where Lily gets drunk, that was right at the beginning of Alyson's pregnancy and she was only slightly starting to show. There probably would have been more acrobatics in that one, like her running around and falling over and stuff. And Alyson is such a tremendous physical comedian that it's a shame we can't have her out there falling over. I guess there were some stories that we haven't been able to tell, but we've sort of been working under the assumption that we'll be coming back next year and make 24 more of these. So we already have a big stockpile of stories we can't wait to tell once Alyson and Cobie are both back and moms.
Did Cobie's pregnancy alter the pace of what's happening between Robin and Barney?
Bays: No, partly because we shot the finale early so that Alyson could be there. I don't think it's changed the basic structure of the story that we're telling.
HIMYM Mythology: Magical Barney, the Slap Bet and Robin Sparkles
What does such a wacky character like Barney allow you to do on the show?
Bays: We kind of push the envelope with that every week it seems like. There was a while there very early on in the series where we faced a real philosophical question: Is Barney magical? Is he a real person or is he magical? There were weeks of debate over that. I think we've tried to land him on the side of being a real person because he's kind of rooted in real people that Craig [Thomas] and I knew and all of us knew. We always, always, always try to find the relatable way in into any story. Sometimes we give ourselves license and say, "Okay, Barney's magical." We'll often get good stuff out of it, like Barney running a marathon in one day with no training. It's like, "Well no, he shouldn't be able to do that in real life."
How magical could Barney be? What are the limits?
Bays: In the writers' room just yesterday, we talked our way through a story that would actually end with Barney at Yankee Stadium getting called out of the bullpen and walking out to the mound and having to strike a guy out in the ninth inning. We just loved that idea so much — Barney pretends to be a Yankee and through a series of hijinks, he ends up having to pitch for them. We would love to see Neil in the Yankee uniform and doing all that, but at the same time that's never happened to anyone we know and probably never would happen. So much of this job is just going by gut and what you can get away with and what you can't. That is one we eventually decided that okay we couldn't get away with that. Maybe Season Five Barney will pitch for the Yankees.
Any word on the next slap in the Slap Bet?
Bays: We don't forget about that any more than the fans do. As far as the slap goes, it's been a while since we've done a slap. It could happen again at any moment. We have two left, and if the show goes another four years ideally, that's two slaps in four years. We got to take our time with it. Then again, it could happen tomorrow. You never know.
The third slap had a countdown clock, so is there any pressure to do something big for the fourth?
Bays: Yeah, definitely. It's like the next Robin Sparkles song has to be better than the [first] two combined. There's a tremendous amount of pressure. We want to make sure we get it right.
So we can expect a third Robin Sparkles video someday?
Bays: Oh yeah, absolutely. We would never say we're done with Robin Sparkles. It's been too much fun. When it happens, it will happen.
But how can you beat "Let's Go to the Mall"?
Bays: I don't know how we can pull that off. I don't know how that didn't make it onto the charts, frankly. We were convinced that when we made the video that this is going to blow up so much bigger than the show and it's going to be a fun little trivia fact that "Let's Go to the Mall" actually appeared on the sitcom called How I Met Your Mother. We thought Robin Sparkles was going to take over our world and absorb it like a giant paramecium.
Just in case you forgot, check out the giant paramecium below: