'How I Met Your Mother': EP Carter Bays teases 'The Final Page' and talks final-season plans

how-i-met-your-mother-the-final-page1.jpgThe final "How I Met Your Mother" of 2012 promises to bring the Barney-Robin-Patrice story that's been playing out over the past few weeks to a head.

Just how, though, we can't tell you -- because co-creator Carter Bays won't tell us.

Bays does say, however, that "The Final Page," an hour-long episode airing Monday (Dec. 17) will be the "culmination" of that story. "It's a very big, romantic, Christmasy episode," he tells Zap2it.

We spoke with Bays recently about the state of the show, how the writers are dealing with final-season limbo and some upcoming stories.

Zap2it: How did the hour-long episode come together?
Carter Bays: Because of Hurricane Sandy we got pre-empted a week ... and we had episode 12, we knew we wanted it to be our Christmas episode, and we were thinking of creative ways to catch up. ... Episodes 11 and 12 really felt like two halves of the same story, so we thought, let's make this our big hour-long Christmas special. It worked out nicely, because I think one story leads into the other very smoothly. It's going to be a really special hour of TV.

The Robin-Barney story is at the center of it, correct?
Yeah. The [past] few episodes leading up to the Christmas episode are kind of about Robin's [ Cobie Smulders] journey of realizing maybe there is something there for her and Barney, and her figuring out Barney [ Neil Patrick Harris] is the right guy for her. Then Barney's off on his little journey, so it's not going to be as easy as it sounds.

Where do things stand on whether this season will be the last one?
It's something we're very interested in getting resolved. Talks are ongoing. It'll hopefully be resolved very soon. We're carrying on like this is the last season, and until we hear otherwise that's the plan.

You would probably need to know soon, right?
Yeah. We will need to know very soon. So hopefully by Christmas we'll know something.

Ted [Josh Radnor] seems to have stopped dating since his breakup with Victoria. Will he start up again soon?
Right now his focus is his career, and we're going to see the completion of the GNB tower he was commissioned to design. It's a huge feather in his cap professionally, but it will also sort of signal for him a chapter closing and the readiness for a new chapter to begin. That will be the thrust of what the second half of the season is about for him -- realizing some doors have closed and maybe there are some other doors that are open to him that he should explore.

You cast Abby Elliott before the season even started, but we haven't heard about her since. What's her role?
We booked her very early on, but we were trying to figure out the right time to bring out her character. It's a very fun arc that we're working on for her, dating Ted. It's a very interesting story -- I don't know how much I'm allowed to talk about it just yet. ... I think [she'll first appear] around February sweeps.

So it wasn't like you cast her as the Mother and then just snuck it under all our noses.
[Laughs] I won't speak to that one way or the other. And also it wasn't the right time just then -- we had some other stuff we had to get through the first half of the season. ... Yeah -- that would have been pretty sneaky.

The show has a soundtrack out now, as well as the latest "Bro Code" book for parents. How deeply involved are you and Craig Thomas in that stuff?
We're extremely involved. The soundtrack is very dear to hearts, because songwriting is something we love doing, and we love music. I think we're frustrated garage rockers at heart, so it's nice to have an outlet for that stuff. We're really proud of the work we've done over the past eight years. We talked about wanting to do a "HIMYM" soundtrack in Season 2, and it took six years to get done. But it's good that it took that long, because we've amassed such a catalog now. ... There are some nice new recordings of some old classics on there. It's been a real passion project.

And the book is something we're very passionate about, especially Matt Kuhn, who's written all the Barney books. We felt like we wanted to get one more in there before the curtain closes on the show.

Any guest stars you can tell us about for coming episodes?
For the first episode of the new year [airing Jan. 14], we have Ray Wise coming back as Robin's dad for a very funny episode. We've only used him for like one scene an episode, and this is one where we get to know him in a really fun way.

"How I Met Your Mother" airs at 8 p.m. ET Monday on CBS.

Photo/Video credit: CBS
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