"How I Met Your Mother" will kick off its final season with an hourlong premiere on September 23, giving viewers a chance to get to know the previously elusive mother, introduced in the Season 8 finale as the elfin Cristin Milioti.
In a recent interview with EW, Milioti revealed a little about her still-nameless character, admitting, "She has a unique sense of humor that is very similar to Ted’s. She’s a young woman who suffers from dad humor ... that’s how she rolls. Someone who says a joke and you’re immediately like, “Daaaadd!” Corny isn’t even the word -- a little nerdy."
Sounds like a match made in heaven -- but what did the cast think of the Broadway actress when she first stepped on set? Which character will interact with The Mother first, and just how much of her past -- and future -- will we see during the 24 episodes of Season 9? HuffPost TV was among a group of reporters who spoke to stars Josh Radnor (Ted), Cobie Smulders (Robin), Neil Patrick Harris (Barney), Alyson Hannigan (Lily) and Jason Segel (Marshall) at Comic-Con, along with director Pamela Fryman and creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas, about what fans can expect from the final season. Read on for the Motherlode.
How They Met The Mother
The creators were understandably tight-lipped when it came to specifics about the show's titular mystery, but did confirm that one of the core group would meet Milioti's character in the Season 9 premiere. According to Thomas, writing and filming that first interaction taught them that "Cristin Milioti has chemistry with everyone in the world, and probably street signs and parked cars. She just has immediate chemistry and that’s also something I would say about Josh -- Josh has amazing chemistry with people. When they finally do get together, it’s going to be amazing. She is just instantly charming; the perfect choice."
As for exactly who The Mother meets first, one of the cast members may have inadvertently spilled the beans: "I have already had scenes with her, so there you go," Hannigan admitted, later telling us that they'd filmed the first two episodes of Season 9. "I do have bruises from shooting those scenes, but that doesn't really give anything away because I bruise easily. But I love Cristin, she's fantastic."
Segel agreed that Milioti instantly clicked with the cast, and insisted that it didn't feel like she was the new kid at school when she arrived on set. "She's the cool kid -- she's from New Jersey, she's real laid back, she fits right in," he said.
For Radnor, it was apparently akin to love at first sight, professionally speaking. "I went and saw her in New York in 'Once,' the musical she did, and she was astonishing, she was so great, and I decided not to meet her backstage because she hadn't been cast yet and I felt like it would be unfair … you don't wanna let someone feel like 'oh, you got the part' before they officially get the part," he recalled. "So three days later she came to LA and we read together on the stage and I just remember her rounding the corner and saying hi to her and telling her how great she was, but I had this feeling of 'oh, there she is.' In some ways it's what they say about meeting your wife or your husband; everything else was a struggle, like dating, and then you meet that person and it's effortless and easy. That's what it felt like when she joined the show."
"The interesting thing about it is, when you cast someone -- she's incredibly talented and she's lovely, but you don't know if it's really the right one," Fryman added. "And she's so the right one, so we're all taking credit."
"The consideration isn't just, 'is she right for the role?' It's that weird chemical thing of, will she work with the five of us who have … eight years of history behind us, working together all the time," Radnor agreed. "We're a hard group to step into because we have strong personalities, but she's perfect."
Back To The Future
"HIMYM" is a show that has always had fun with its non-linear narrative, utilizing flashforwards and flashbacks to extend the story beyond what's happening in the present day, and Thomas described Season 9 as having "more flash-forwards than a lot of other seasons."
Bays agreed, "Without giving away the context of it or how it happens, we’re going to get to see the happiness that’s after [meeting The Mother]. We’re going to see happily ever after ... It’s going to be more tears, more of that stuff."
He added, "All the stuff that you might be excited to see, we’re excited to see too. Now that we have a face, an actress, a voice and a person playing this part, there’s a lot of fun stuff that we get to do with it that we haven’t been able to do."
Stuck In The Middle
But before the show can get to that happily ever after, it has to deal with both Robin and Barney's wedding and Ted's lingering feelings for his former flame.
"We're starting right where we left off, so ... [Ted] took the locket and he's on his way to the wedding," Radnor said, with Hannigan hinting that Lily "might be a little stressed out, a little concerned over how Ted may or may not be going to handle this weekend. She's definitely concerned. There has been some fun stuff that I've gotten to do already and we're only two episodes in. In true Lily fashion, she takes it to the extreme."
Smulders called the dynamic between Ted, Robin and Barney an "interesting triangle," but admitted that she didn't foresee our Canadian pop idol ditching Barney for a fling with her ex.
"I think that Ted and Robin have a connection and they were in love with each other at one point, and that's something that doesn't just vanish," she noted. "So I think it's dealing with that and walking that line. I don't think there's going to be any flip-flopping happening -- I've made my choice and I'm sticking with it, but it's hard when one of your best friends is someone that you've had romantic feelings for, who's also the best man. It creates a lot of drama, creates good TV!"
Harris then suggested a foolproof solution to the trio's conundrum: "What about a threeway? That would answer a lot of questions -- get it all out there on the table, or on the bed." On a more serious note, Harris admitted that "as much as Barney puts up a front that he's a changed man, I can't imagine he won't be wanting to leap out of windows on more than one occasion" in the final season, so it could prove to be a pretty long walk down the aisle for the author of the Bro Code and his lady love.
The series might be ending with Season 9, but if you can't bear the thought of life without "How I Met Your Mother" in some iteration, there's still that rumored spin-off ... "Anything is possible," Thomas teased, when asked about some kind of offshoot. "I don’t want to confirm or deny, but yeah, you never know. There’s 'CSI: Miami,' maybe it’s 'How I Met Your Father: Miami.' Don’t steal that, that’s gold!"
To see if Barney and Robin make it to "I do" and find out how Ted actually meets The Mother, tune in when "How I Met Your Mother" Season 9 premieres on Monday, Sept. 23 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.