After just one episode without him, and a whole lot of hoopla, Brian Griffin returned to Family Guy in a Christmas miracle.
The episode opened with the new credits featuring Vinny the dog in Brian’s place, but about two-thirds of the way through, it becomes clear that the family’s newest addition is probably not sticking around. Despite the total obviousness of what they were doing, the writers used this opportunity to let the characters involved show a little emotional depth. Stewie and Vinny share a goodbye that is a little sarcastic, but also sweet, which is fitting to their short-lived relationship.
Did I lose you? This time travel stuff can get a little confusing. With the new timeline, Vinny’s adoption never even happened. Since this will seemingly be the last episode featuring Stewie’s time machine (for an episode, at least, if recent history is any indication) they got in a couple of solid pop culture references for good measure. Vinny shows that he understands time travel by saying, “Scott Bakula and all that” (for all of you Quantum Leap fans out there) and when future Stewie saves past Brian he starts to fade out like a Marty McFly in Back to the Future—only without the discordant guitar sounds.
Cut to Christmas morning, Stewie—who has no recollection of future Stewie saving Brian, since he disappeared into thin air—doesn’t seem to understand why Brian is being so affectionate. When Stewie saved Brian, Brian comments that most other families “would’ve just gotten a different dog and moved on.” Stewie made no mention of Vinny to Brian, probably because, much like the rest of us, he’s just glad to have Brian back.
After the episode aired Seth MacFarlane, the show’s creator and voice of Brian Griffin, tweeted, “And thus endeth our warm, fuzzy holiday lesson: Never take those you love for granted, for they can be gone in a flash.”