Finally, after that long dry spell to follow her sharing train cookies with Lily, we get some mileage out of Cristin Milioti. It's post-narrative flash-forward mileage, but at least it's something.
The well has run dry on character development for Ted. At this point, all he is is... waiting. Waiting to believe in love again (or does he believe in it wholeheartedly this week? It kind of ebbs and flows with whatever the episode calls for), and waiting for that love to come his way. Now that we have a face attached to the intangible idea of "the Mother," we can get a little bit more excited about his melodramatic groans. But even more exciting than whatshername's meeting with Ted is her meeting with everyone else. We know, thanks to extra-curricular research, that she'll meet every other member of the group prior to Teddy Westside. Her initial encounter with Lily was fine at best, but Lily's the "sane" one. Milioti coming into contact with Barney, Marshall, and Robin (probably in that chronological order, if we want to think about this stream with accelerating significance) is bound to be a lot of laughs.
And speaking of the rest of the troupe, "Lighthouse" deals with moreover interesting material involving longstanding psychological problems. More prominently, we have Robin, whose parental traumas are so deeply rooted that the mere mention of her mother — before even the Future Ted interjection spelling out just how weird a phenomenon this is — feels like a weird phenomenon. For the past few weeks, Robin has been feuding with Barney's mom Loretta, and tosses a jab her way in regards to her world famous scrambled eggs, asserting that her own mother makes better eggs.
Just as the inception of the Robin-Loretta warfare might have proved an appropriate venue to really dig into Miss Scherbatsky's piercing mommy/daddy issues, "Lighthouse" presents the opportunity and snatches it away from us. Robin's mother, at the very last minute, phones her daughter to reveal that she won't be at the wedding. The show uses the canon of Robin's mom being afraid to fly as the reason, although this does seem like a cop-out. There are plenty of Scherbatsky fissues to offer a more substantial, more painful reason for Robin's mom not making it to the ceremony. But instead of treating this as a window into Robin's festering pains, the show just uses it to bridge the gap between Robin and Loretta, the latter kicking on her maternal instincts to comfort her new daughter-in-law in her time of need.
But there is one piece of noteworthy character development in this episode, and not a particularly favorable one: at the behest of Daphne, Marshall drops his longstanding "nice guy" identity, stranding Ted's step-father Clint (who hitched a ride with the two of them after Marshall and Daphne stopped at Ted's mom's house in Cleveland to grab a meal and an embarrassing childhood picture of Ted) in the woods and seizing control of the trip. Now, we've often commended Marshall as being the only halfway decent human being among the troupe. But if Daphne's words really got through to him, if he's really now the sort of a**hole who would abandon a family friend in the middle of nowhere without so much as a warning, then we might have to bid adieu to the last speck of humanity in this show.
At least we got a callback to the "I Wanna Be" gag though, which, while predictable, was quite funny.