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'How I Met Your Mother' 'The Lighthouse' Recap: A Huge Moment for Ted ... and a Timeline Error?

Can we live in How I Met Your Mother’s future storyline? While we’ve been stuck watching a bunch of storylines that really don’t mean anything to us during Barney and Robin’s weekend, there’s a HIMYM story being told in 2015 that’s so much better.

Guys, we got to see Ted propose to The Mother.

This is one of those moments that we’ve been waiting for over eight years to see. We’ve seen Marshall and Lily get engaged. We’ve seen Barney and Robin get engaged. Heck, we’ve even seen Ted get engaged, just not to the right girl.

Unfortunately, The Lighthouse made us wait until the final scene to witness this huge moment in Ted’s life … and it was in flash forward form. Seriously, I would trade every current storyline — Ted and Cassie, Marshall and Daphne, Robin and Loretta, Lily and her booze — for just a few episodes set in this magical version of 2015 that HIMYM has created. I want to see Ted with his future wife. 

Here’s how we got to this epic moment. Furious over Marshall’s decision to accept a judgeship, Lily told Ted she was tired of his love-life whining, instructing him that it was “time to settle.” Ted took Lily’s advice and brought Cassie, the sad girl he didn’t hook up with the night before, to visit a romantic lighthouse by the Farhampton Inn. The date was depressing. Cassie had twisted her ankle, forcing Ted to carry her up the lighthouse steps, which exhausted Ted to the point where he did what he had only done once since 1993. Yes, Ted vomited.

Our glimpse into 2015 showed that Ted was able to reclaim such a romantic place, thanks to his refusal to settle. We got a cute moment between Ted and The Mother, with The Mother even repeating many of the things Ted had said to Cassie about the lighthouse and its view. Unlike Barney asking Robin to marry him, Ted’ proposal was simple, and of course The Mother said yes. In fact, Ted didn’t even have to ask the question.

I so hope that HIMYM continues to fill in the story that got us to this moment. Even though they’ve only shared two short scenes, Josh Radnor and Cristin Milioti are so good together. They have a genuine chemistry that effortlessly sells the idea that they belong together. Maybe it’s because we’ve invested so much time in rooting for Ted, and to know that we’re seeing a sure thing for him makes it easy to fall in love with The Mother. With Robin, Victoria, Stella and Zooey, we always knew it wasn’t going to work out, so no matter how much we wanted to love any of those women, the knowledge that those relationships were doomed hung in the air.

There’s one issue with this proposal. No matter how beautiful and touching it seemed, it appears that HIMYM has screwed up its timeline. In the Season 7 episode Trilogy Time, we got a flashforward to Ted, Marshall and Barney gathering in 2015 for their every-three-year viewing of the Star Wars trilogy, complete with a glimpse at Ted’s baby daughter. In The Lighthouse, Future Ted narrates that the proposal we’re seeing is roughly two years after Barney and Robin’s wedding, which would put it somewhere around May 2015. The only way this works is if Ted got The Mother pregnant at the very beginning of 2015 before they were engaged and that the gang’s 2015 viewing of the Star Wars trilogy came in December of 2015. Go back and watch Trilogy Time — Ted wasn’t holding a newborn. I’m horrible at gauging how old kids are, but I’m pretty sure his daughter was a few months old in that flash forward.

For a show that invests so heavily in maintaining its timeline, from making sure characters have the right hair style or color in flashbacks to constantly filling in their history, this would be a pretty big screwup. Why did Ted have to mention the “two years” thing? In Coming Back, it was established that Ted and The Mother would return to The Farhampton Inn a year after Barney and Robin’s wedding — why couldn’t this be when Ted and The Mother got engaged? I have a hard time believing that after searching for The One for almost a decade, Ted would wait two years to propose to her. Like Jim Halpert in The Office, I wouldn’t be surprised if Ted bought an engagement ring the week after he started dating his future wife. This is the guy who tells girls he loves them on a first date.

Could this just be a simple mistake? A typo in the script for The Lighthouse? The HIMYM writers meant to have this moment be a year later, syncing it up with Ted and The Mother’s next visit to the Farhampton Inn? Unfortunately, The Mother is wearing different clothing from the flash forward scene in Coming Back to the flash forward scene in The Lighthouse. If it was supposed to be the same visit, the characters have had at least one change of clothes.

Hopefully we can just chalk this up to Ted being an unreliable narrator. Oops? Maybe Ted recalled the wrong Trilogy Time gathering back in Season 7, just like he couldn’t correctly place the goat story. It’s too bad that we can’t just celebrate this moment. Ted proposed! We’ve waited so long for this. Isn’t there someone in the HIMYM writers’ room keeping track of the timeline?


How about the rest of the episode? Robin and Loretta, Barney’s mom, finally worked things out. Three episodes ago, Robin and Loretta went at it, with Robin winning Loretta’s favorite blouse in a poker game and refusing to give it back. The bad blood between the two continued in this episode, with the topic of scrambled eggs fueling their feud. Loretta’s claim to make the world’s greatest eggs (so good rock bands have written songs in their honor) led to Robin claiming that her mother could make better eggs. As Robin had barely ever talked about her mom, the gang was shocked. When Robin’s mom didn’t show up, Robin boasted that she could make those eggs herself, but was exposed as fraud when she demonstrated that she didn’t know the first thing about making scrambled eggs. No, Robin, you don’t shake the eggs to prescramble them.

Loretta used Robin’s lack of culinary skills to express concern about how she would raise her children, to which Robin replied, “Well, lucky you, because that is one thing you will never have to worry about.” Yikes.

As Robin stormed off, Barney told his mom that Robin couldn’t have kids.Yes, Barney knew about Robin’s inability to have kids, as she told him while the two were hanging out one night. Barney responded with a hug, a sweet moment for the pair, who were at the time just friends. Loretta found Robin, who had been further crushed with the news that her mother wouldn’t be coming to the wedding, and embraced her, telling Robin that she was to only call her “mom.”

Robin’s had a lot of tough moments over the course of HIMYM, so it was nice to see her get a moment like this. Her own family is pretty sucky — Robin deserves to know what it’s like to have a real mom. Remember that despite Loretta’s old partying ways, Barney holds her in high esteem since she had to fill the roles of both mother and father for him growing up.

Meanwhile, Marshall continued his road trip of awfulness. Worst storyline in HIMYM history, right? Sure, there have been plot points in HIMYM that just bombed, but I can’t think of a single HIMYM storyline that went on this long that meant so little and was so bad as Marshall being stuck on a road trip with Daphne. My apologies to Sherri Shepherd, but Daphne is an unlikeable character. Marshall may be too nice at times, but he didn’t do anything to deserve the rotten treatment he’s gotten from her.

When Marshall finally goes nuclear on her, he dead right. “You threw a live grenade into my marriage, you screwed up my whole world. So from now on, we listen to my music,” Marshall told her. Marshall should’ve done more than just turn on I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles). He should've booted Daphne out of the car, just like he did to Ted’s stepdad who had tagged along. End this storyline. Have Barney drop in with a jetpack or something, pick Marshall and Marvin up and get the gang back together at the Farhampton Inn. I have no idea which movie Jason Segel is shooting that required him to be away from the rest HIMYM’s cast, but it’s really hurting this season.

Notes and quotes 
Barney to Loretta: “Mom, all Robin wants to do is put this whole thing behind her, so she can get married and put this whole thing [gestures at himself] behind her. [Offers Loretta a high five.] Ahhhh … get this over with quickly so we can move past how awkward it was I just said that five.”

Curtis the concierge to Ted: “I can’t in good faith send a lonely guy like yourself to the top of a very romantic, and more to the point, tall lighthouse. [Makes falling noise.] I don’t want your blood on my hands, and I mean that literally, because it would be my job to hose down the rock.”

How drunk is Lily now? Linus has been bringing her drinks for several days now.

“Drunch” equals drunk brunch.

Love that in Ted’s mind, the sign entering his hometown reads “Welcome to Cleveland. Birthplace of Ted Mosby.”

Thankfully, Clint didn’t sing Marshall and Daphne any songs about making love to Ted’s mom.

Ted’s best friend at age 7 was a balloon. We need to see the picture of that duo dressed up in Wild West outfits.

Barney describing the impact his mom’s eggs had: “If you listen to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon while eating her eggs, it lines up perfectly.”

What we know about Robin’s mom: She’s terrified of flying, was once stung by a jellyfish, allegedly makes the best scrambled eggs, drives a pickup truck and fits in a bathtub (or, at least a Canadian bathtub).

Lily crushing Ted’s quest for love: “Time to settle. Take this normal-sized chick up to the lighthouse and fall in love with her and stop bothering us with your dumb love life stuff.”

Marshall winning zitch dog 28-0. No one beats Marshall at zitch dog, but it would probably make things more competitive if Daphne were actually playing.

Ted attempting to get to know Cassie: “What kind of music do you like?”
Cassie: “Nothing.”

Barney after eating his mom’s scrambled eggs: “Ohmygod, I’m 8 years old and life is perfect, and I haven’t peed my shorts in front of 350 Webelos at the pinewood derby regions in Wheeling, West Virginia.”

Clint: “I will not go back to coaching the Browns!”

After climbing to the top of the lighthouse, Ted throws up. He once claimed that he was "vomit free since '93", but thanks to the story of the re-return in Game Night, we know that Ted actually threw up on Robin’s doorstop.

Cassie: “So Mr. Architetch, what do we do now? Fall in love or something?.” Yes, Cassie mispronounced “architect.”

Barney describing his love for Robin; “Mom, I’m not marrying some future possibility of starting a family. I’m marrying a girl who means more to me than kids or my career or even the Lamborcuzzi — patent pending. So, please, be nice to her.”

Ted to Lily: “I’m starting to think a person gets a certain allotment of lighthouses per lifetime. I’ve used all my mine up.”
Future Ted: “And that, kids, is the kind of stupid thing you say before you’ve met the person who hits the reset button on the world, who makes everything new again, who makes it seem ridiculous that you ever consider selling, because not two years later …”

The Mother to Ted: “When you vomit, I vomit. You know that.” Milioti is so perfect for this role.
'How I Met Your Mother' 'The Lighthouse' Recap: A Huge Moment for Ted ... and a Timeline Error? Reviewed by Bill Kuchman on 11/04/2013 Rating: 5


  1. You're forgetting this season picks up right when last season left off. In How I Met Your Mother land it's still 2012.

  2. Last season ended in May 2013. Yes, Season 9 picks up where last season left off, but that means we're still in 2013.

    1. I do believe Ted says "not 2 years after" - which could place the scene in 2014 or even early 2015 without preventing the baby being born before the end of 2015.

    2. True, but we're still dealing with a very squishy timeline now. The most likely solutions now are either Ted screwed up telling the Trilogy Time story or The Mother got pregnant before Ted proposed.

      There's also the part where a long wait to propose doesn't with Ted as a character. This is the guy who proposed to Stella after a few months and told Robin he loved her after one date. We're supposed to believe that he waited around two years to propose to The Mother?

  3. In 9.02 they said Ted and the Mother came back one year later. We're dealing with the same trip here. It's probably the next day, which explains the change of clothes. I'm sure they came up for at least an entire weekend. It was just a continuity error in 9.08, because even Craig Thomas has said that the need for Ted to have his daughter by 2015 is the whole reason they had to set this season over three days rather than just making Barney and Robin's wedding in the spring of 2014.

    1. If it wasn't for that "not two years later" line, this wouldn't be an issue. I like to think that HIMYM chooses its words carefully. In Coming Back, Ted very clearly said he and The Mother were back at Farhampton exactly one year later. Why not just say the same thing again in this episode?

    2. I agree with you, but sadly the show is notoriously horrible with continuity issues when it comes to dates. Just look at Season 6 when they were doing the storyline about Barney and his dad. One episode the museum incident happened in 1981 and the next it was in 1983, and I'm pretty sure they've moved around the characters' birthdays several times over the years too. They must not have a very good (or non-existent) date checker.

    3. And don't forget the Robots v Wrestlers thing which has bugged me since last season. In the first Robots v Wrestlers episode, Ted says that the gang went every year no matter what, but last season they had that weird time traveler episode where Ted went alone because no one else could go.

      Bill, I have to disagree with you about the chemistry between these two, I see no chemistry at all. Maybe it's just because we've only seen a few seconds of them together.

  4. Couldn't "not two years later" be him going too far (two years) but referring to the same "year later"? I mean the "year later" was actually over a year, but when trying to say it wasn't that much time later he says "NOT two years later" (anything between one and two years) instead of "MORE than a year later" because it's better for making that point.

    (sorry for grammar errors, I'm not an English speaker)

  5. I'm just gonna go with typo, because that seems like the easiest explanation for the timeline screw-up. Still, this was a good episode, and I'm glad we FINALLY got to see the Mother again. Seriously, the show really needs to bring her in more. Every scene she's been in has been gold. She breathes some much-needed lide into this show, and I really wish they would stop horsing around with this boring stuff leading up to the wedding and get on with it.


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