How I Met Your Mother Pre-Season Prep: A Season 7 Refresher, Plus What's Ahead in Season 8

A shot from tonight's Season 8 premiere.

When How I Met Your Mother kicks off its eighth season tonight, it could be the beginning of the end. With no deal in place for a ninth season, the show is prepping itself for the very real possibility that this one will be the last. And if this is HIMYM’s final go-round, everyone knows what that means, right? We’ll finally get to meet the mother, the woman Ted Mosby marries and has been telling his two kids about forever.

As such, let's take a quick look at where we left off in Season 7 and what's ahead in Season 8.

So how’d last season end? And what does that mean for Season 8?

The Season 7 finale began the process of putting the final pieces into place for the show’s endgame, jumping forward in time to reveal that Barney wouldn’t marry Quinn but would instead tie the knot with Robin. The Season 7 premiere had given us a glimpse at Barney’s future bride, but then the show spent much of its time last year selling the story that Barney would marry Quinn, the stripper who stole his heart, even ending the season with a showy proposal. Knowing that Barney marries Robin and not Quinn, we’re going to have to see Barney and Quinn break up at some point. Hopefully it won’t be as he meets her parents, like when Barney broke up with Nora.

Robin had a rough go of things last year, discovering that she couldn’t have children of her own and turning down Kevin’s proposal to keep him from sacrificing his dreams of having kids to be with her. The upcoming return of actor Michael Trucco as Robin’s mystery crush (more on that in a minute) alludes to Robin having at least one more romantic encounter before becoming—wait for it—Mrs. Barney Stinson.

Marshall and Lily welcomed their son, Marvin, to the world in the Season 7 finale, tweaking the dynamic of the group by becoming parents. Even though they still live right above the bar, Marshall and Lily won’t be able to just hop downstairs to hang out like they always have. The couple has already tried to explain to their friends that they can’t be bothered with silly problems... but knowing this group, it’s hard to imagine Marshall and Lily won’t get sucked into a ridiculous scheme or two.

Oh, and then there’s Ted. After being left at the altar by Stella so many years ago, you’d think that Ted would be the last guy to run off with another man’s bride-to-be. Oops. Season 7 saw Ted riding off into the sunset with Victoria, his cupcake-making former girlfriend, as she bailed on her own wedding. From what we’ve heard about the new season, Ted isn’t happy that Victoria didn’t leave a note for Klaus, her fiance, and insists that they go back to do so. Apparently it’s okay to steal someone’s soon-to-be wife as long as you leave a note, huh?

You mentioned a crush of Robin’s coming back. Who else is joining the show for Season 8? Do we know who’s going to play the mother yet?

Yes, Michael Trucco is returning to HIMYM for a stint. You may remember him from "Hopeless," the episode that saw Barney and his dad embark on a legendary night out on the town. To keep up the ruse that he and Robin were a couple, Ted accidentally prevented Robin from finally talking to a longtime crush of hers. We’re going to see Robin and her crush together in Season 8, but how long will they last as a couple?

In addition to Trucco, Ashley Williams is returning as Victoria, and Thomas Lennon (Reno! 911 and Bruce Wayne’s doctor in this summer’s The Dark Knight Rises) will play Klaus, Victoria’s boyfriend and now fiance who we’ve heard about for years but never seen. At some point, Ted is going to come face-to-face with the man whose bride he intends to steal away.

Abby Elliott, who left Saturday Night Live this summer, will join the show as Janeane, the girl who, according to executive producer Craig Thomas, gets hotter as she gets crazier. Break out the Hot/Crazy Scale, Barney—it looks like Ted is going to need it this season. Interesting note: Elliott’s dad, Chris Elliott, is already part of the HIMYM family, portraying Lily’s board game-addicted father.

Marshall’s law school buddy and brunch-loving friend Brad, played by Joe Manganiello (True Blood's Alcide), will also return. There's no word yet on the storyline that will bring him back.

And as for who’s playing the mother? C’mon, did you really think HIMYM would give up that information easily? I'm expecting Lost levels of secrecy when it comes to that particular casting.

Last (and most important) question: How many slaps are left?

While Marshall originally won the right to slap Barney five times, he bargained for an additional three slaps last season in exchange for letting Barney remove the ducky tie. Marshall’s used six of his eight slaps so far. If this turns out to be HIMYM’s final season, the Time-Slap Continuum better prepare itself for the last two moments in the most epic slap bet in history.

How I Met Your Mother's eighth season premieres tonight at 8pm on CBS.

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