I've been down on this season of "How I Met Your Mother", as it has been rambling on, seemingly content to fill the time until it finally reaches its big reveal. And most of that filler has been depressing, particularly for a show that was once pretty damn silly (and I say that as a compliment).
So this week's episode, "Trilogy Time", came as a much-needed relief. It was cheesy (again, in a good way), mostly funny, light on the darker moments AND managed to establish a defined timeline for the central conceit of the series.
Let's start with that last point first. At the end of the episode, we saw a flashforward to the year 2015. Unlike the rest of the episode's "flashforwards" (which were actually flashback fake flashforwards), this was presented as reality by Future Ted. And in that scene we saw Ted with HIS baby girl. Now, it's hard to tell exactly how old the baby was, but even if we assume she's a newborn in April of 2015, that puts her conception sometime in the summer of 2014. Which means Ted would have to be married by then, given that he's never indicated on the series that the daughter was born out of wedlock or that her conception was the thing that necessitated a wedding.
So if Ted's married in 2014, that probably means he meets the mother a while before then (he's probably not going from meeting to marriage to pregnancy in a month). If that's the case, then we're probably finally going to meet the mother sometime... next season.
Sure, that was the likely case even before Monday's episode, but putting the baby in the 2015 scene forces the writers into a corner. The show's already been renewed for next season, but if it goes on longer than that, it'll have to be with the mother already revealed. The show can no longer hit Season 10 without a mother, unless it wants to contridict something already shown (which I wouldn't put past them at this point, but I prefer to be optimistic for the time being).
Now, as for the rest of the episode, I thought it was one of the funniest of the season. The fake flashforwards in the flashbacks -- it's less confusing if you actually see them -- were hilarious. Barney being unchanged in any of them until the present was a nice touch. Even Ted's depressing vision of 2015 was depressingly funny, a stark contrast to the soul-crushing depression that this show has peddled this season.
From a continuity perspective, it totally makes sense that Ted, Marshall and Barney had a "Star Wars" trilogy tradition. Obviously Barney's had the stormtrooper armor in his apartment for the run of the show, and Ted and Marshall previously put Stella through the "Star Wars" test to see if she was a viable wife. The show's always been good with things like that, and this was a particularly funny example.
There are four episodes left in this season, and whether or not we finally meet the mother (my guess: not), I can only hope they provide as many laughs as this episode did.