Robert Voets/FOX

WARNING: There are minor spoilers from tonight's season premiere of How I Met Your Mother. Read on at your own risk!

And with one glimpse of a yellow umbrella (and some nice legs sporting fancy heels), How I Met Your Mother fans got another crucial piece of the puzzle to the biggest TV mystery of all time! OK, maybe not of all time, but it's certainly a plotline fans have been unraveling for the better part of a decade.

In tonight's season-eight premiere of HIMYM's, we got to see Ted (Josh Radnor) moments before he first lays eyes on his future wife while sitting at a train station in the rain after Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) and Robin's (Cobie Smulders) wedding. How did he get there? And where does How I Met Your Mother go after tonight? We chatted with creator and executive producer Carter Bays, who previewed season eight for us, and even let us in on some plans should there be a season nine:

What was your plan of attack this season coming off the big reveal that Robin is Barney's bride?
Bays: Last season we wrapped up one of the bigger mysteries of the show, which is: Who's getting married? Now that we know who the players are and what the situation is on this wedding day, from here to the end—whether it's one or two years and we're still figuring that out, is the journey from where we are right now to that wedding day. The meaning of that wedding day...there's more to it than what we know right now, as we will learn over the course of this season. This is now getting the ball a little further down the field as far as the bigger question of the show. We've answered the question of who is getting married, and now it's time for the bigger question of the show, which is how Ted meets the mother and what the circumstances are in that wedding that specifically puts Ted in her path.

Since you're still not sure if this is the last season or not, do you have a Plan B if you guys do a ninth season?
I wouldn't say a "Plan B" because I don't want to promise anything that we ultimately don't deliver on. Our attack is this: this is the final season of How I Met Your Mother as far as what we're writing. We're open to that being extended. If we get the opportunity to do it, we definitely have another season in us. We have a lot of stories that we're not able to get to now that we would love to do if there is a ninth season. Either way, we're happy. We've achieved everything we wanted to achieve, but we're not deaf to the voices of like, ‘You guys gotta wrap it up! It's done!' And it's like, I get it, but I also feel like our ratings are better than they've ever been, we're having fun doing it, the cast is having fun doing it and we don't feel like our show is completely about this one question that is posed in the title. Some people look at our show that way, and that's fine. Fans of the show just like having these five characters in their living room every Monday night, and that's the kind of TV viewing we grew up with and we aspire to. We love having this overall story and that's a huge part of it, but I don't think we'd feel like we're cheating everybody by doing another year of a show that a lot of people love. I think we have two more great seasons in us. If we only do one of those seasons, then I don't think we'll feel cheated about it or that we'll feel like we missed out an opportunity to do an extra 24 episodes, but if there is a ninth season, I think it would be a great one.

Cobie Smulders, HIMYM

Robert Voets/CBS

Some of your best episodes have had nothing to do with the quest for the Mother.
Yeah. And without giving away too much, there could be more to that story if we decided to expand on it or it could be a much simpler ending that would be totally satisfying as well, I think.

Fans are split on whether they want to meet the mother early and see Ted date her for awhile or if the series finale is the first time we see her. Can you talk about the pros and cons of both scenarios?
I think we have a specific way we want to end the series. There's certain things as you create a show that over the years your expectations of what the show is going to be change and you write it differently and you change your game plan, and we've done that with a lot of things on the show but there are certain core fundamental things that we don't want to veer away from, and one of those is how the series ends. And with that in mind, this decision was made years ago and I don't think we've ever even shaken from how we want to end it. As far as the pros and cons, it's really just a matter of we have our plan and we're sticking with it.

You can't make everybody happy with a series finale. It's an impossible feat.
[Laughs] It's just a given. I think it'll be a fantastic series finale. The series finale is kind of why we've done the show all along and whenever we do get to do that finale, we're very excited about it because I think it's going to be really heartbreaking, and sweet and wonderful.

During a show's final season, there is often a parade of returning guest stars. We know we'll see Brad again, but is there a plan for more familiar faces?
I want the record to show that we were the first people to take off Joe Manganiello's shirt and now he can't get work with clothes on, basically. But yes, we have an idea that when the show is ending, whether it's this season or next season. We loved the ending of Seinfeld how like they brought back everyone who's ever been on the show. It was a great way to send off the show. There's a very organic—I don't want to talk too much about it, way to revisit all the faces we've seen over the years. When it is time to hang it up, there's at least one episode of just an autocade of old familiar faces.

Neil Patrick Harris, Britney Spears, How I Met Your Mother


Any chance it might have something to do with Marshall's photo montages?
That could be part of it, you never know!

Finally, are you taking credit for Britney Spears' comeback?
[Laughs] Yeah, absolutely. Of course. If I'm not mistaken, people had pretty much forgotten who she was before she was on our show. And we reminded America.

Relax, Britney fans. He was kidding and so were we. As for the rest of you, what did you think of the season-eight opener of How I Met Your Mother? Any early theories about how Ted gets from Barney and Robin's wedding to sitting on that bench in the rain?

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