No, we never really thought she was, but the hidden message in “Ted Mosby is a Jerk” planted a seed we’ve thus far never been able to forget.
But gray-templed future Ted runs into her in 2021, and — can you imagine? — it prompts a funny little story about things happening nowadays, namely how Ted manages to confront the Captain (Kyle MacLachlan) over stealing his wife and how Marshall (Jason Segel) finally starts to get his act together about pursuing environmental law. Also? Robin (Cobie Smulders) and Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) argue over his obvious feelings for Nora and Lily(Alyson Hannigan) is feeling the ill effects of not having sex in… exactly 5 weeks and 3 days.
Oh, and poor Zoey (Jennifer Morrison) definitely isn’t the mother either.
After his laser tag date with Nora, Barney insists that he’s written her off for not sleeping with him. But his facial tics and noticeable bliss at the very mention of her name reveal that he’s quite smitten. He spends the episode comically fighting the urge to call her before finally giving in.
Continuing to suffer from a lack of story, Robin has nothing better to do than play wing man to Barney in is reluctant courting of Nora by forcing him to confront his feelings and making sure he calls her back. She also hasn’t had sex in an even longer time than Lily. Barney tries to get her to break her dry spell with him, and her lack of enthusiasm makes us sad. We miss their love!
Back in New York but by no means over his post-paternal crisis, Marshall finds comfort in a documentary about “Garbage Island,” a mass of trash in the ocean that prompts him to try and make both McLarens and GNB go green. This brings him two new enemies with Wendy the Waitress (who throws her back lugging disposing of the bars recycling) and Meeker (his co-worker who loses his job after supporting Marshall’s expensive environmental plan for the company.) Lily’s also not too fond of Marshall right now, mostly because all of her sexual advances towards her husband go ignored.
He finally admits that he’s disappointed that his father died only knowing his son as a corporate lackey and admits that his reluctance to enjoy the marital bed is because he’s now hesitant about having children before his career is in order. They agree to hold off on the baby-making while Marshall focuses on getting a new job.
Hannigan spends the bulk of this episode in heat, stealing touches from her husband when she can and giving him the same eyes most people reserve for cheeseburgers. She remains an unsung genius of physical comedy.
And then there’s Ted, who sort of wins this episode for being naked and mustachioed in a hilarious fantasy sequence and for just being there during all of the Captain’s scenes. Zoey makes her new boyfriend go to her old home to pick up a box of things. The Captain sidelines him and forces him into the study to join in the speculation about the cad who stole his wife away. (He doesn’t know!) Through their awkward interaction, Ted comes to understand (and accept) that no matter how he paints it, he was the other man in the destruction of the Captain and Zoey’s relationship. He briefly considers letting the Captain’s doorman taking the fall for the emotional infidelity (“Maritime protocol demands physical retribution!”) but admits that he’s now dating Zoey during a quick exit. Is this the last we’ve seen of the Captain? It pains us to even think such a thing.
Our final glimpse at future Ted reveals two tantalizing nuggets of mother-y info.
1.) Zoey, as we’ve come to accept, is not the mother. Future Ted tells Future Wendy the Waitress that they’re not together anymore.
2.) This wedding probably isn’t Punchy’s. We realize that Ted already has best man duties lined up, but there’s no reason Marshall would be there too, let alone in a tux. Things could be headed in a very serious direction for Barney and Nora.
It’s hard to think about it now, but we’re not that far off from the end of the TV season. “Garbage Island” marks episode 17 of 24. And 24 will almost certainly bring with it at least a few more details on these ambiguous nuptials. So let’s kick our speculative minds into a higher gear.