Concerned that their show had become too "sitcom-my" last season, lacking the emotional growth of the show's earlier years, How I Met Your Mother creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas have mapped out a pivotal sixth season that, says Bays, will be "more emotionally invested in these characters' lives and tweak the larger mystery of the series in a way that we've never done before."
"We're diving into the heart and soul of this series again in a way that we didn't as much last year," says Thomas. "And we're better writers when we do."
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Does this mean we're finally going to meet the mother after so many close calls? They'll neither confirm nor deny, although said mother's roommate (played last season by Rachel Bilson) will return in the season opener. All they'll say is that in episode one, "We're going to get some glimpses into the future that will actually alter the way we tell the story," according to Thomas.
Bays describes it as "a new framework for the show ... that will cast the mystery [of the mother] in a new light, that will shed some new light on the central mystery and also create a new central mystery that will sort of expand the universe. We will be seeing more of the future."
Just as important, they're finally putting to rest the ongoing tease in which the audience constantly wonders if every new girl Ted meets could be the one. "You're going to learn some stuff in episode one that sort of ends that particular gimmick," says Thomas.
Looking at the entire series as a three-act play, "this is the beginning of act three," says Thomas. "It's us setting a course toward a finish line. We have this great momentum and an inevitable pull starting right now towards where we're going to end the story. And it gives it a great drive and purpose." This doesn't mean they've set an end date a la Lost—in fact, they're hoping to keep telling stories about this group of friends for several more seasons—but now they know where and how it's all going to end and are putting it in motion.
These revelations won't be the only big story next season. Among the other spoilers Bays and Thomas are teasing:
The return of Robin Sparkles! The third installment of these Canadian flashbacks will take Robin back to her tween days, when she starred in an outer-space themed kids' show. "And she had a partner in crime named Glitter, so it's Sparkles and Glitter!" exults Thomas.
Marshall and Lily's desire to make a baby kicks off in the season premiere. "It begins with night one, their first at-bat. We just get right into it right away. It affects the season a lot. It's a season where by the end of the season everyone's lives will change dramatically," says Thomas.
Case in point: The couple's baby drama inspires Barney to go on his own journey, to try to meet his real father. And we're not talking Bob Barker.
In a season-long arc, Ted will be called back to Goliath National Bank to design its new headquarters, which means he'll be working with Barney and Marshall. This "opportunity of a lifetime" comes with a catch. To put up the new building, he'll have to destroy an old New York landmark. "It's a moral dilemma for him," says Thomas, which puts him in direct conflict with a woman whose cause is to protect and preserve the building. "And we meet this great new big significant character in Ted's life who is his nemesis and enemy. And it is giving us so much fun material to write from," says Thomas.
They won't say where the story goes from there, but you get the picture, and for the creators, it's an emotional one.
"Our show has always thrived when it's talking about the big pivotal moments of your life and the gauntlets that you have to go through in your life, and there are things that are very personal [to us and our staff] that we're going to write about," says Bays. "Just looking at the stories we're going to tell, there's going to be six or seven moments we know we're going to be crying on the set."
Are you excited to get out your hankies for Mother's sixth season?