Previously on this snoozer of a season: Ted and Robin both fled their apartment, turning over the keys to Lily and Marshall who were eager to flee their free house in the suburbs for a free two-bedroom Manhattan walk-up. Mr. Mosby and Ms. Scherbatsky also briefly contemplated rekindling their romance before ultimately decided to remain just friends. (Thank goodness.) And finally, Barney fell for a stripper named Quinn, who played the player before deciding that she kinda liked him back, even though no good can possibly come from their relationship. And that's pretty much all that's happened this year! We told you that it's been a snoozer. Clearly, another member of the Eriksen clan needs to die. We vote for that shiftless layabout Marcus.
Anyway, on with the season's 21st episode, "Trilogy Time" in which the three guys sit down for their umpteenth viewing of the Holy Trinity a.k.a. the original Star Wars trilogy. (Because watching people on TV watching movies on their TVs always makes for thrilling television.) Before we get to that though, we’re treated to a brief expository scene with Lily, Robin and Barney in which we discover that Barney and Quinn are indeed cohabitating as they promised (threatened?) at the end of the previous episode. Apparently, things are going really great -- except for the fact that Barney now needs to go out on the street every night to fart and refuses to replace his coffee mugs with hers as that would mean he wouldn’t be asserting “his dominance as a man,” a Cro-Magnon sentiment that earns him an instant rebuke from the two women at the table (as it did with Quinn when he said the same thing to her earlier in the evening). Felled by their words, Caveman Barney retreats to his pal Ted’s new man cave… where Ted and Marshall promptly attack him for his insensitivity towards the opposite sex. Before Barney can act on his threat to go to the Y for a schvitz, Ted declares it “Trilogy Time,” the point at which they have to watch all three Star Wars movies back to back. (By the way, the fact that Ted holds up the Blu-ray Star Wars set indicates that he’s finally upgraded his home entertainment system since ditching his old apartment. Hopefully, he threw his VHS player out instead of leaving Lily and Marshall stuck with a now-useless piece of technology.)
As we’re informed via flashback, the concept of “Trilogy Time” dates back to the year 2000 when Ted and Marshall were just a pair of dorky nerf herders desperately worried about failing their Econ final. (And a quick note here: 2000 was the year after The Phantom Menace came out, at which point the whole Star Wars franchise had taken a massive credibility hit. Really, college-age Ted and Marshall should have been burning their brains out on repeat viewings of The Matrix.) In order to relieve some of the tension, Ted decides that they should watch Episodes IV-VI back-to-back, something he hasn’t done for five years. This length of time shocks Marshall, who insists that you’ve got to keep the gap between viewings limited to three-years or “the Dark Side wins.” So he and Ted make a pact to “tril it up” every three years, no matter what. That flashback leads into a flashforward, where the college kids envision their post-grad future in which Ted’s a successful architect with awesome hair and a girlfriend that looks an awful lot like Robin, Marshall is a successful lawyer with a cool mustache and Lily is already knocked up with the first of four planned kids. (In a nice touch, in this awesome new future they still sleep on their old dorm room bunk beds.) Then we cut to the actual 2003, where things obviously haven’t gone the way they imagined them. Sitting down to watch the trilogy again, they mentally leap ahead to the year 2006… you get the idea.
So rinse and repeat that scenario a couple of times with nothing particularly significant -- or all that funny (minus the sight of Robin hiding out in Barney’s storm trooper armor during the guys’ 2009 viewing) -- occurring and we finally wind up back in the 2012 where Ted finally realizes how often his grandiose visions of the future have failed to live up to reality. That’s why when he peers into the distant year of 2015, he sees himself as a balding hoarder calling up a frozen food company to express his concern about there being more cinnamon in the cobbler that comes with their Dinner for One meal than usual just so he can hear a human voice. (Nice to see that ordinary cordless house phones still exist in this future. Of course, this is Ted we’re talking about, so naturally he hasn’t gotten around to picking up the iPhone that you can install directly in your ear.) At least Marshall has a better life in Ted’s vision: he’s rocking that awesome mustache and Lily is pregnant with their fifth baby before baby number four is even born. Barney, meanwhile, is walking around with another random girl on his arm, because that’s been the one constant throughout the various futures they’ve imagined and then lived through. But this bit of prognostication causes Barney to realize that he actually wants to be with Quinn for longer than one night, so he rushes home and willingly smashes his mugs -- and then lets rip a few loud bursts of natural gas -- as a symbol of his commitment.
Back at Ted’s place, meanwhile, he and Marshall prepare to get their tril on, but not before we get a peek at the actual 2015, where Ted brings his newborn daughter into the room to watch Star Wars with Uncle Barney and Uncle Marshall. So if he’s only three years away from becoming a dad that means he knocks up the mother sometime in late 2014/early 2015, which means he's gotta meet her by at least late 2013 to allow for wooing and wedding time. The sooner the better obviously, but good to know there's an end date to the show's central mystery approaching.