And you thought Barney and Quinn moved fast.
On Monday's How I Met Your Mother, Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) is planning on popping the question to his girlfriend and Robin's office nemesis Patrice (Ellen D. Williams), whom he started dating just two episodes ago. Not if Robin (Cobie Smulders) has anything to do about it, right? The increasingly vindictive Canuck, intervention be damned, is still attempting to do everything she can to derail their relationship. That includes entertaining the idea of possibly getting Patrice fired from the station during a performance review.
The hour-long episode is one of the last few before co-creator/co-executive producer Carter Bays says that they have to know whether there show will return for a Season 9. So when can we expect word? Is Barney actually proposing to Patrice? Bays answers our burning questions below.
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Let's just get it out of the way: What's the latest on doing a Season 9?
Carter Bays: We're going to write through [Episode] 14. We're not quite at the point where we have to diverge paths [to a Season 8 ending or a Season 9 ending]. At least through 2012, what we're working on works either way. I'm hoping we resolve that soon. We're coming up against the edge now.
Do you think you'll know before the New Year or after?
Bays: I'd like it to be resolved before the New Year, but I'm not sure. It's really difficult not knowing, but we're optimistic and confident that we'll know soon. I'm pretty sure we'll be able to have something to say about it in January. It's a weird situation. We'd be happy with either one. We hope it works out for 9 because we love working here and we love this job and we do feel like we have some great stories to tell in Season 9. But if this is the last season, we'd be able to say it was a well-told story.
You're definitely not going to go for 10? Nice round number.
Bays: [Laughs] It's pretty safe to say 9 would be the last.
Things have taken a pretty unexpected turn with Barney and Patrice. Was this the plan for her when you introduced her?
Bays: It was just something that felt like made sense for Barney, coming off dating a stripper in Quinn (Becki Newton), to over-correct and go in the opposite direction with the next person he dates. And we love Ellen Williams. She's fantastic and it also plays into Robin going after Barney — to have this person she hates be dating the guy she wants.
And he's going to propose to Patrice. Is he really or is it all a ploy and he's proposing to Robin?
Bays: Well, Barney's always a sneaky guy. But Barney is moving very quickly with Patrice, and their relationship comes to a boiling point this episode. But we know he won't marry Patrice. We know that the series ends with Barney and Robin getting married. That's the one we can't hide, but we've concocted a windy route of them getting there.
Will they get engaged this season if there's a Season 9?
Bays: I don't think I can say, but Robin's going to be pursuing him for a little while. He's the clueless one now and it's going to be her trying to win his affection.
Robin's teetering on the brink of sanity with her obsession of him and Patrice. Do you think you might have gone too far with that?
Bays: Robin's a tough girl for sure and obviously we've never seen her like this, but there's something about Patrice that gets under her skin in a way other people don't. ... [Monday's episode] is about confronting Robin's issues with Patrice and how weird it is to have an enemy and someone that makes you that angry and how much Barney has to do with it. Can she go through with getting Patrice fired? It's a great study of Robin and her feelings.
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Will there be any more serious romances for either of them before they get back together?
Bays: They will date other people, but I can't say for sure how serious. We have something really fun for Ted (Josh Radnor) in the New Year. Abby Elliott is starting in Episode 15. It's a really fun character that Ted starts dating. She's like insane.
Abby's the final hurdle before the mother, right?
Bays: Yeah. She's the girl that makes him realize, "OK, enough messing around. I've been doing this for eight years and it's time to get out of this dating thing because this girl's nuts." We're still working out what she does to him because her [number of] episodes is undecided right now. That might have something to do with whether there are eight seasons or nine.
Is she actually the last girlfriend? We've seen him try to do that before and it doesn't go anywhere.
Bays: I know, but this will be the one that tops all of those. ... I know people are impatient and we appreciated the impatience. I would contend that most people who watch the show watch it this way. We're not trying to jerk anyone around, but if the series has a point, it's not about the destination, but the journey. It's about these five friends. We're not making Mad About You. It's not How I Romanced Your Mother, which would be a great show and there have been great iterations of that, but that's not the show we're doing. I appreciate people's frustrations and would maybe ask them to forget the show's title. If we had called it Ted and His Buddies or something, maybe there'd be fewer complaints.
Does that imply that we won't see the courtship of the mother?
Bays: I still can't say. [Laughs] But we're going to start, I'm sure, frustrating a large segment of the viewership by answering a couple of small questions this season here and there before getting to the big shebang. We will get a couple more glimpses of her this year.
In real time or the flash-forward?
Bays: In the flash-forward. We'll go back to that either way.
Will there be any clues in real time? A glimpse of another body part in Cindy's (Rachel Bilson) apartment? Her bass guitar?
Bays: [Laughs] Our first episode in January, somebody will resurface that you wouldn't expect to see. It's an important moment that we're going to see involving an old face and Ted. Ted bumps into somebody that will have a big influence on his search for the mother. That's the first real-time clue. We have a few more surprises with old faces. Ray Wise is coming back [as Robin's dad] and we're hoping to get some more. We're all pretty nostalgic here.
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A lot of fans thought you wrote out Victoria (Ashley Williams) too similarly to Friends with her ultimatum to Ted. And you had a lobster plot point like they did, though your use of it is different. Were you aware of the similarities?
Bays: There was a lobster thing from Friends? I have no recollection of that. ... I can assure everyone reading this that those coincidences were purely coincidental. What was their ultimatum?
Emily will only stay with Ross if he stops seeing Rachel.
Bays: That is very similar! [Laughs] I did watch the show, but I might've stopped watching by then. [Former Friends and Mother writer/executive producer] Greg Malins used to always let us know if something happened on Friends, but now he's no longer on the show to tell us. But I plead absolutely 100 percent ignorance to that. We had no idea. But between our show and their show, you've got about 400 hours of television, and story lines are going to intersect.
What's in store for Marshall (Jason Segel) and Lily (Alyson Hannigan)? Will Lily go back to work?
Bays: Lily's going to have an interesting career crisis in the second half of the season. I feel like she's due for a big story and it's the right time for it. When you first have a baby, the first eight months are great and then you hit that turning point where you realize this isn't a temporary thing; this is forever. I think Lily's going to have that realization that she's really a mother. And Marshall's still dealing with the fallout from the pharmaceutical case.
Does that mean more Brad (Joe Manganiello)?
Bays: I hope so. We'll see. Like I said, we'd love to bring more people back and we'd love to have new people too. But a lot of things have to do with whether it's Season 8 or 9. It's our creative fiscal cliff!
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