When last we left How I Met Your Mother in May, Marshall and Lily had decided to make a baby, Robin's boyfriend had accepted a job in Chicago which she had turned down, and Ted... well, other than a bad dye job, not much happened with Ted in his quest for mama. Overall, it was a quiet capper to a season that bummed out some hardcore HIMYM fans because of a general paucity of Big Episodes with Big Moments. But fear not, die-hards: Vulture talked to co-creator Craig Thomas, and he tells us that he and his staff are planning a return to old school HIMYM during season six, with plenty of extended story arcs and lots of movement in the lives of our heroes. So — SPOILERS AHEAD! — look for a big twist in the mama drama, a new wrinkle in the saga of Robin Sparkles, the revelation of Barney's real dad, and, if producers get their wish, the first-ever HIMYM episode shot entirely on location in New York.
"Season five was a very fun season; we did some of our best episodes... but there wasn't this larger emotional arc like you had in some past seasons," says Thomas. "We wanted to slow down the [narrative] after telling the Robin and Barney relationship, so we opened it up in the middle of the season and did some stand-alone episodes. That meant we didn't emotionally move the ball down the field as much as we have in past years."
But for season six, Thomas and partner Carter Bays are going for a series of interpersonal touchdowns. "Season six is just exciting the hell out of us because it has so much blood and guts in it," Thomas says. "It's going to bear a lot more resemblance to season one or two. The characters are going to be having a lot of big things happen to them." Such as...
— Look for some game-changing revelations related to the identity of Future Ted's wife as early as the season premiere. "There's going to be a new perspective on who the mother is," Thomas says, comparing it to a "new camera angle" for looking at the story. (Maybe this means we'll hear someone else's voice boring the poor kids with stories from the past?)
— Meanwhile, Ted will once again find himself working on a new building for the bank which employs Barney and Marshall. "They got some bailout money and decided to start building it again," Thomas says. But it turns out that building the new bank will mean tearing down a classic New York building — and an activist who opposes said destruction will end up becoming "a nemesis" for Ted. Naturally, since Ted is ever on the romantic prowl, you can expect this woman to become an object of Ted's desire.
— In what Thomas calls an "origin story," Barney will finally meet his father — and no, it won't be a famous aging former game show host. "He's been under the delusion that Bob Barker is his father, but he's going to get hints that's not true," Thomas says. "There is a real father, and Barney is going to find him. You can imagine the casting possibilities." We're nominating Jon Hamm.
— The Robin Sparkles legend will add a new chapter, one Thomas is labeling a "prequel" of sorts. We already know that, in addition to being a singer, Sparkles started out as an actor (with Alan Thicke!) on a Canadian kiddie-centric show. Not only will we likely see that show, we'll also find out that Robin had a pubescent partner named... Glitter. "They were called Sparkles and Glitter," Thomas says. "We have a few amazing casting ideas." We're pulling for Alanis Morissette, who first became famous as a regular on You Can't Do That on Television.
— The season premiere will pick up where the show left off last May, with Marshall and Lily stepping up for their first bedroom at-bat in their quest to have a child. "Night one, pitch one, and it's on," Thomas says. "There will be bumps in the way of their getting pregnant, but not in ways you could predict."
— Nothing's been decided yet, but if Bays and Thomas get their wish, an episode of HIMYM will be shot wholly on location in Manhattan and Brooklyn. "We want to do this Cannonball Run/Amazing Race-style episode where our characters are all racing through the city," Thomas says. "It would look nothing like the show normally does. It would be more like a crazy little movie. It would be the most fun thing to do." Producers still need to get budget approval from HIMYM studio 20th Century Fox, though, so don't go trying to wrangle an audition to be an extra just yet.
— Returning to the show next season for guest roles: Wayne Brady as Barney's brother, and Rachel Bilson as the roommate of Future Ted's wife.
While there's been no decision — yet — to set a definite end date for HIMYM, the show is clearly headed into its home stretch. "If HIMYM is a three-act play, then last season was the end of the second act, and this year will be the beginning of the third act," Carter says. "We're beginning the push toward what the ending of the series is."