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- Alyson Hannigan, Neil Patrick Harris, Josh Radnor, Jason Segel, Cobie Smulders
How I Met Your Mother fans are likely not yet recovered from Monday’s season finale. I’m not, at least. And after you read our Q&A with executive producer Craig Thomas, in which he talks about the finale and what to expect from next season (Robin and Barney!?!), you’ll probably be left wanting new episodes of Mother more than you already do. Sorry in advance. Hey, at least we suffer through this hiatus together.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First, that wedding. You’re pretty cruel leaving it there. But I love that you’re going there with Barney. How did you decide that?
CRAIG THOMAS: Well it was really fun this season to see Barney looking forward a little bit. This is a guy who’s kind of trapped in one mode all his adult life of just being awesome and legendary and a horrible womanizer. It meant a lot to him to reconnect with his father and see another possible future, someone genetically related to him who found contentment in family life. It got under his skin a little bit. That wedding is taking place at an indeterminate time in the future that we are being incredibly and annoyingly vague about — but we can’t quite tell anybody exactly when that’s happening. Barney Stinson, for the first time in his life, is looking into the future and going, “Maybe there is something more out there for me than what I’ve done.” So it’s fun to write, and I will say this: The premiere of season 7 starts off at the same future wedding where we learn a little bit more, though I can’t say exactly what we learn cause that one doesn’t air until September. We just learned one half of the equation in the finale, that it’s Barney, and we don’t know who the other person is, but in season 7 we’ll — I can’t say exactly when or how — but we will obviously learn the other half the that equation in season 7. For sure.
The whole Punchy fake-out that you all planted in there was so incredibly clever. I know you fooled a lot of people.
We wanted to have a couple red herrings in there. Of course, there’s always the possibility that Barney is marrying Punchy. I can’t confirm or deny. But I’ll just say it: It’s true, he is.
[Laughs] No, he’s not marrying Punchy. We wanted to have a couple possibilities, different ways that it could go, and that was definitely a fake-out. Part of the art of series television is faking out the audience a little bit and frustrating them a little bit but also rewarding them. We hope that seeing one half of who’s actually getting married is a reward and that people want to see exactly how Barney got there and who the hell he’s marrying.
And this is where Ted meets the mother, though, right? At Barney’s wedding?
Absolutely. We’re not trying to pull any funny math on that one. That is actually as we set it up in the premiere of [season] 6. That is where Ted meets the mother — at Barney’s wedding. That is the day that he meets her.
The mother fake-out was also funny. But why no more little nuggets there about her in this finale?
You know what’s funny? We shot a little extra piece for our season 6 DVD that won’t come out until next September, and that actually does have an extended scene in it. So in a sense, the episode will have something that’s a little bit of a mother clue, but only on the DVD. The season finale is more about Ted getting closure on season 6 than it was about planting mother clues. But we come right back in season 7 and get much more on that track.
Since you brought up Ted, where are hoping to take him now?
We’re on an earlier writing schedule. Usually this is when we take our hiatus, but we stayed up in business and just kept writing to get into season 7, and later in the summer, we’ll take a little time off before we come back. So we’re already kind of writing it. Basically, at the top of the season, the condition for Ted is that he’s back out there dating, and one thing we’re discovering is how much we miss doing some fun Ted romantic looking-for-love stories because he was very much with Zoey from episode 5 to episode 24. She was there complicating both his professional life and personal life, and that was fun and gave us a love of good material. But it’s nice to have Ted back on track. The way season 7 opens is that Ted is kind of on a hot streak. Ted has been profiled in New York Magazine as the youngest architect to ever design a skyscraper in New York City, because with Zoey gone, Ted will be free and clear to build his building, which is huge for a 33-year-old-architect. It’s unheard of huge to be doing that. So Ted’s on a high and confident and the ladies are liking him and he realizes, “You know what? This is great, but I really miss the feeling of being in love.” So season 7 kind of gets Ted back on that path and back out there and recommitted to that journey, which is nice.
I like single, dating Ted.
I know, and I really liked doing the story we did this season in terms of Ted’s work life and how that got complicated with Barney and Marshall, and his love life and his work life intersecting. It was nice, in a sense, to take a little bit of a detour and do that. But already just putting together the first few episodes of season 7, our show is at its strongest when it’s about Ted dating and this group of friends helping him and supporting him in his journey. So it’s feeling really good writing season 7 so far.
I have to ask about that cab scene between Barney and Robin. That was incredible.
It’s actually one of the best scenes, I think, of season 6. One of my favorites, anyway. There’s such a chemistry between Barney and Robin and a lot of fans were bummed out that Barney and Robin weren’t together longer, and that their relationship ended the way it did. It felt a little abridged to them. The whole time, we knew that that wasn’t the end of the feelings between Barney and Robin. So we were always sort of coy in our responses to answers about that from critics because we knew that it wasn’t the end. I think that the finale sets up that it’s not the end of these feelings between Barney and Robin, and I can say that in season 7, we will see that come up in a very complicated and fun way.
So sneaky. But as a Barney/Robin fan, I can’t tell you how thrilled I am.
You’re gonna like season 7. I don’t want to say exactly how or when any of it comes back up, or if it will go anywhere. But it was really fun shooting the cab scene in the finale cause you’re just reminded that you care so much about the two of them. If you’ve been watching the show all these years, you love the chemistry between the two of them and you care so much. Watching it get shot, I felt like a fan of the show. I felt like, “Oh man, I want to see more of that. I want to see more of that chemistry.” It’s all of a 45-second scene in the back of a cab. Those two are good together. Definitely moved everyone watching it on stage as we shot it.
So that must be fun for you, to have those moments where you can still feel like a fan of the show.
I just think our cast is so great that I find myself watching it as we shoot it sometimes feeling like a fan, which is a great gift. The writers and Carter and I have to think so much about it analytically that it’s great to remember, essentially, that you just have to write it like a fan and try to write what you’d like to see. I know there are a lot of fans who wanted to see more from Barney and Robin, and to them I would say, stay tuned for season 7.
So you were renewed for two years. Are you operating under the assumption that you’re done after two years or are you thinking beyond that?
I don’t know. There’s really no way to tell yet but all our actors are contracted through that time and so are we so for right now we have to write it as though that’s what it is. We know we got two more for sure, but there is something nice to be later in the series to get to speed up where these characters are all going and where they’ll all end up at the end of the series, where ever that may be.
It’s all about progression.
Progression, yeah. We were pitching a show about a narrator looking backwards when we pitched the pilot in the room with the CBS executives. I think we said it’s like The Wonder Years for your late 20s/early 30s, because essentially that is another adolescence when you’re not quite grown up yet and you’re a little bit in between and it is a show about growing up and evolving in that time in your life and I think it would be dishonest not to show the characters all moving ahead. It would be too limiting to leave them all exactly where they started.
And lastly, there’s a baby Lily Pad coming! Or Baby Marshmallow, it could be either. I could hug you for doing that.
When we decided to have Marshall lose his father this season, we knew the only way we could do that is if there was the happiest possible ending to this season and that comes in the form of Lily being pregnant. You know where Lily comes in and tells Marshall that she’s pregnant and they start hugging and crying? Well, I looked around and I saw various people on our crew, all men, I think, crying. And it was such a jubilant moment, and you realize how much you needed that moment to end the season where there’s been a lot of darker moments than we usually play.
You had so many game-changers this season. What’s up your sleeve for season 7?
I think November sweeps of season 7, which we’ve already planned out, I think each episode is gonna end with something utterly mind-blowing, so I’m really excited. That’s one of the things about getting later in the series run, you can start calling some bigger plays and moving the larger story, the larger arc, down the field and at a faster rate, and it’s exciting. I will say that there is some very, very interesting Barney and Robin stuff coming up for the first half of season 7, but I don’t want to say anything more than that.
(Maggie Pehanick contributed to this report)
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