Have you been wondering what happened to Stewie's time machine from the "Road to the Multiverse" episode? Me neither! I had forgotten all about it, actually. But here we are with a hard-core time travel episode, and one which contradicts an earlier Family Guy, at that. (An episode once portrayed the "Big Bang" as being God's fart.)
It all starts when Stewie is struck with L'esprit de escalier. This French phrase literally translates to "the spirit of the stairwell." Meaning, the clever rejoinder that only comes to you as you're on your way home.
Stewie realizes that he can use his time machine to go back in time and deliver his zinger. (This is an interesting scene, because you may note that when he does this, he doesn't run into himself. It's impossible to do a time travel thing without breaking a few eggs. Of logic.)
This leads to my favorite scene of the episode, which references one of my favorite Family Guy scenes of all time. Stewie travels back in time, steals Brian's banana costume, and steals his "PEANUT BUTTER JELLY TIME" glory.
Stewie and Brian travel back to the beginning of time, to a point outside of time. Here they engage in a surreal rendition of "Heart and Soul" before Stewie overloads the time pad to blow them back to the present day. Where it turns out that Stewie is the literal creator of the universe.
This raises some problems when Stewie's arch nemesis Bertram gets wind of Stewie's time machine. Bertram decides to travel back in time to doom Stewie, but by doing so he will doom us all. (Because without Stewie, the universe will not exist.)
This episode was unusually free of jokes and gags, but was surprisingly engrossing. It suffered a bit from too much exposition, which seemed particularly egregious because with only Stewie and Brian in the episode, seemingly all of the exposition consists of Stewie explaining things to Brian. At least in the award-winning Futurama episode (which this resembles in several key areas) you have five characters who can explain things back and forth to each other (and thus to the audience).
Nevertheless, I was relieved to have an episode that was free of moralizing. It had one emotional moment (when Brian steps onto the time pad alone) but it earned it. And many of the episode's flaws can be overlooked in favor of the wonderful sequence where Stewie and Bertram steal Da Vinci's flying machines and engage in an aerial duel over the streets of Renaissance Venice.
No real quotable quotes, but an odd observation. There is a cut-away gag featuring a Planned Parenthood doctor in pirate regalia, complete with a hook hand. Is that a call-back to Peter's lengthy story at the captain's table in "Stewie Kills Lois Part 2"? About the abortionist with the stump hand? Or did they recycle that joke by mistake? I don't know, but it was weird and jarring.