In 2007, ABC gave Lost a multiyear pick-up and set an end date for the series. Last week, CBS renewed How I Met Your Mother for two years, but made no mention of a series finale for the mystery-laden sitcom.Carter Bays told TVGuide.com in the fall that he and co-creator/executive producer Craig Thomas had plotted out the rest of the series beyond its current Season 6. But now that the pick-up is official, will the next two seasons also be its last two?Bays answers our burning questions about the show's future, why he doesn't feel pressure to introduce Mrs. Ted Mosby, and what's in store for the rest of the season.Let me get this out of the way: When will we meet the mother?
Carter Bays: [Laughs] Where is she?! I'm the worst. We can't really reveal anything just because we don't want to give the mystery away until it's time. If the next two years are our last two, then it will be some time in those 48 episodes. Since you have a roadmap, will we meet her and see her and Ted (Josh Radnor) date, or will we meet her and it's cut to black?
Bays: I can't say because that would be a huge spoiler. You can't please everyone, but I hope fans will like our story. We're not going to try to leave people unsatisfied. I appreciate people's antsyness. If I were a viewer, I'd probably be right there with them. I wouldn't say we feel pressure. This is one of those stories that just takes a long time to tell and is hopefully a lot of fun along the way. We have a road map of how we're going to reveal this and we're trying to stick to the plan.Does that plan fit perfectly within a two-year time frame?
Bays: Because we had the actors signed for eight seasons and because eight seasons of a sitcom seems like a great length, if it ends up being eight, that's terrific. We have a plan that ends the series in May 2013. Within that, there's some flexibility. If we find ourselves in a situation where we have more stories to tell and we still love it — no one is feeling like, ugh, enough of this job — we could expand the story beyond where we originally planned to end it if we're lucky enough to have a ninth season. If we have a 10th season, the kids will be born. [Laughs] It'll loop over.
Bays: Pretty early. It's not like we have 48 locked scripts, but still. And certainly no one has had a conversation about this yet because we just got this pick-up and we're enjoying that, but I definitely feel like we need some time. It'll be nice to know when we're going into the last season, but right now, there is no hard end date. We have an endgame, but no end date. A year from now, maybe, we'll start having that conversation.Since Zoey (Jennifer Morrison) isn't the mother, what role does she play in Ted meeting her?
Bays: That's going to unfold with the last five or six episodes. There are going to be some big resolutions to some of the stories we've been telling over the season. There's a conflict and we will see why she's not with him 10 years from now.Will we see Rachel Bilson again this season?
Bays: No, not this season. I think we can officially say that.There is a lot of speculation that Nora (Nazanin Boniadi) is the mother.
Bays: I saw that. I try to let the Internet police itself and let the logic police come in to explain why she is and isn't. She has a very strong point of view where she wants marriage and children as soon as possible. That puts her right in the Ted Mosby strike zone. That's not a story for right now, but I can see why people would see that.The fake-out of Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) not going into the restaurant to get her back was brutal.
Bays: I know! ... He's not there yet. That's his story this season: Can he ever get there? The thing that set Nora off in his mind was her wanting kids and him grappling with, "Could I ever be a father?" He's great with kids in a position of no responsibility. Having come from an environment where his dad was the worst father of all time, it's a big deal. ... That ties in with him meeting his dad [played by John Lithgow in next week's episode]. Jason Segel) and Lily (Alyson Hannigan) have a baby?
Bays: That's sort of off the table for now. The baby was something they wanted before [his dad died]. Now it's about becoming the person he wants to be [an environmental lawyer]. It's him realizing that life is short and that he's not the guy he promised his dad he'd become. ... We're going to see him make good on his talk. A baby would affect this group as it would a group in real life, which is no more bar. It lowers the chance of crazy adventures, which is our bread and butter. That's why we've put it off for as long as we have.I'm glad Robin (Cobie Smulders) finally got a job that isn't ridiculous. Is there anything on the romance front?
Bays: It was nice seeing her grow up that way. There's something we might be teasing in the last five [episodes] that might lead to something much bigger in Season 7. Possibly a long-term relationship. She's due. She had her thing with Don awhile ago, but I think there'll be a big love story for her coming up.The season finale goes back to the wedding in the premiere and it's raining. Will the yellow umbrella make a reappearance?
Bays: I cannot confirm or deny. [Laughs] I can't say whose wedding it is, but ... it explains why everything you saw in Episode 1 and Episode 24 leads up to that moment at the wedding. ... We're going to find something out about that wedding that motions the events of Season 7 and explains how Ted ends up meeting the mother. The cliffhanger is a pretty big one. There is a framing device in Season 7 in the same way the wedding [was the one for Season 6].