Because of all the time demands on me during Upfront Week, I won't be able to do a proper review of the "How I Met Your Mother" fourth season finale, "The Leap," save to say that I really enjoyed it, and that my opinion on the various romantic storylines (specifically, about the ongoing necessity, or lack thereof, to focus on the search for the Mother) is unchanged from previous episode reviews.
But in lieu of a review, I've got a Q&A I did last week with "HIMYM" co-creator Carter Bays, where we talk about all the big developments in the finale:
Let's start with by far the most important question raised by the finale: how did you decide that this would be the joke involving the goat? And what were the other goat ideas?
We always knew it was going to be a fight. That was set up very early on in the fight episode, when Ted sort of makes a reference to Ted fighting the goat. The other ideas were the degrees to which we would take the idea of Ted fighting the goat. And that was off us having ideas and our production staff saying, "No way." There were going to be wires at one point, "Matrix"-style special effects, and we negotiated it down to a puppet goat.
After all this time, do you feel like this was a satisfying resolution to that gag?
I think so. Nothing's going to ever satisfy. It's hard to build something up for that long, but it was certainly fun to shoot and be funny. I think we got away with it in terms of realism versus the fantastical.
I love that Ted goes through the rest of the episode with the goat's hoof print on his forehead.
Maybe the rest of the series, who knows?
So where do Robin and Barney stand now?
That's a good question. This episode, I think, kicks the door down for the barney and Robin romance. We have some ideas. Our big challenge as writers is "What would that be like?" We have some ideas of that would be like. Obviously, it won't be as easy as they're just boyfriend/girlfriend now.
Barney knew going into the season that he had feelings for Robin; what do you feel he and she had to go through this year to get to this point?
Robin's journey was a little more internal. We didn't explore it as much as Barney's. We've seen her in a relationship, she made the journey with Ted, going from the single person to someone who can open up to another person. It was kind of about Barney's side. It was like leaving it a mystery where Robin stands. That's what made it exciting, not knowing what the answer would be. We still kind of don't know what the answer is. I like the ambiguity of, "On what level is she saying that she doesn't want to be in a relationship or she does?" I like that we decided to give ourselves season five to explore that.
And what had to happen to Barney to get him to this point?
It's sort of a slow build over the series. Seeing his best friend get engaged, and seeing Marshall and Lily's relationship blossom. Over the course of the series, this has been something that's been simmering for Barney.
Well, there was that nice moment at the end of "Right Place Right Time" where he rips up the list of his 200 conquests and looked hopefully towards Robin, like he was finally ready for her.
That was definitely what that moment was about. It was a nice way to see Barney giving up something immature and move towards maturity. Not too close to it, though,
So does this mean that we've seen the last of Barney trying to seduce other women?
I'm sure that won't be the case. I think you sort of established where Barney stands with this in the first episode of the season. It's the scorpion and the toad. There will always be a part of him that's a flirt. It'll be about him trying to reconcile the two parts of himself.
Was there anything that had to be done differently with this storyline as Cobie's pregnancy advanced?
It didn't feel like it. I'm sure subconsciously there were things we were keeping ourselves from doing. The last few episodes, we definitely tried to go easy on her. She was getting along. It's pretty tough to go into work every day when you're tucking a baby in your belly.
While I'm sure it was a hassle to have to write around the pregnancies, and then around Alyson's absence, one of the nice things was seeing so much emphasis on the Marshall/Barney friendship. Is that something we'll be seeing more of in the future?
We've always loved getting those two together. They're very funny, just goofballs together. It always feels like the Three Stooges when those two are together. I think one of the wonderful things about our show, and we're excited to have Aly back, is that every two-person combination we've done has its own energy and can be equally fun and entertaining. Like, Marshall and Robin, we realized this year that we hadn't done any good Jason and Cobie stories, and we did two of them back to back, they were great together.
In terms of the mother, we know now that the mom is in Ted's architecture class. That gives you a lot of leeway; how aggressively do you intend to pursue this next season?
It's funny. We're hoping to take a long time with this story. That will be addressed in the first episode of the season. The mother is in the classroom, there's definitely no trickery there, but it's not going to be as easy.
So, is it a situation where he's going to be dating a lot of his students, or will we be on alert the first time he does that?
I'm not sure. We haven't figured it out yet. We want to be careful, don't want to string it out.
At this point, is the reveal of the mother's identity something you're going to save for the end of the series? Or has the show evolved enough that you could introduce her, have her be Ted's girlfriend or wife, and just keep telling stories about all these characters?
I'm always hesitant to answer that question, because if I give my personal preference, it's kind of a spoiler. But it's definitely evolved beyond that. It's definitely a show about these five friends. I don't think we need to focus on the framing device. It's funny, when we did the yellow umbrella last week, it was like, "Wow, we forgot all about this," and we had written it. I kind of like our lazy, rollicking pace, making it a really windy story.
Do you ever feel like the title is a hindrance in some way, like you're beholden to that part of the story?
I don't think I've experienced that. Often, we'll pretty easily forget the name of the show that we're writing and just tell good stories. It's hard to know how people are watching it. I know there are some people who come to the show every week with the hope, "Tell me how he met the mother," but we've created a big universe for ourselves, but that's just one element, and there's a lot of other stuff to explore.
Are we done with the umbrella? Has it served its purpose?
It still very much has a role. It's kind of in now way served its purpose. The fact that he was holding the yellow umbrella meeting Stella was kind of a red herring. We did want to signal in that scene that this is part of the story, and that's why we put it in that scene, but it will be tangibly involved in him meeting the mother. When he said two years ago that "the story of your mom's yellow umbrella is the story of how I met your mother," he meant it, and so did we.
There was that scene in the episode where Ted acquired the umbrella where he bumps into some random woman at the club on St. Patrick's Day, and the camera lingers on it longer than you'd expect for something so minor. A lot of fans are convinced that's because the random woman was, in fact, the mother. Are the people who keep talking about that like the "Sopranos" fans who kept waiting for the Russian to come back, or are they onto something?
I can't say one way or the other, whether that's the mom or not. It was artistically significant just to show Ted bump into a girl. Maybe one of these girls in the club could be the mom.
Or maybe that was it: maybe that was the Russian from "The Sopranos" after a sex change.
Can Barney drive?
Yes. It's hard to go back to this, but that scene took place in the past. In the Fiero episode, what we were seeing was a flashback to before that. We established that he had a BMW at the end of season one. Barney can drive. He was just a late learner. I'm sure if you put that (in this interview), someone will find a way to prove me wrong. We had that discussion, but it felt like it fits. We had stuff in (last week's) episode that we had to cut out for time where Barney talks about how he didn't start driving until late. So he was learning new things about driving like you can talk your way out of the speeding tickets.
This is two season finales in a row where someone's wound up in the hospital and Barney had an epiphany about Robin. Coincidence?
It is a coincidence, though we highlighted it by casting the same orderly both years. That's another thing we were going to do a joke about but we couldn't get around to. There's something nice about bookending Barney looking at Robin that way for the first time and actually kissing her and telling her he loves her in a hospital room. Sort of the way that Ted and Stella's first scene this season was them sitting in a driving game and their last scene was in a car together.
Last week's episode established that Tony's movie, "The Wedding Bride," will be coming out in May 2010. Should we be expecting an episode about that?
We have some preliminary ideas for it. We have a whole story built around it.
Ted was originally modeled on you, and Marshall on Craig. How far have those characters evolved from that? Do you ever sit around and say, "I wouldn't do that" or "We wouldn't do that to each other"?
Ted certainly isn't me anymore. I haven't been engaged, or had a lot of the other experiences he's had. It's more the characters have become themselves .We definitely do try to ask ourselves, "Would this happen to us? Would this happen to someone we know?" for all the characters. We try to keep them personal and real, but there's more overlap now. I relate to Marshall as much as I do to Ted.
Well, the reason I ask is because the writing has been more overt this year about how Ted can act like a douche sometimes, and I was wondering if that was something you were comfortable with.
I think I'm way more of a douche than Ted. No, I allow for that part of the show to be fictional.
Alan Sepinwall may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org