Wednesday, October 21, 2009

HIMYM 5.05: "Duel Citizenship"

"Not only are you wrong, but you are belligerently sticking to your guns and insulting me in the process. Robin Scherbatsky, you are an American!"


“Duel Citizenship” was definitely my favorite episode of the HIMYM season thus far. “Robin 101” comes a close second, but “Duel Citizenship” takes the cake for including funny, sweet, and in-character Barney/Robin interaction, Robin going “Super Canadian” (always a good time), and tackling one of those becoming-adults issues we all face: when your best friend becomes a “we” instead of an “I.”

Ted is all excited because he and Marshall are planning to take a road trip out to a dive-y pizza place in Chicago. Although the logistics of this don’t quite make sense, the road trip to that pizza place was something they did regularly while in college at Wesleyan in Connecticut. The pizza place is closing, so they want to make one last pilgrimage. Ted describes the craziness to Barney and Robin while they’re at MacLaren’s. One of the little things I love about this scene, and the show in general, is that Neil Patrick Harris can’t help but laugh at Josh Rador’s silly antics. It works perfectly in the scene, because it shows the characters are true friends that genuinely enjoy each other’s company. HIMYM has always been a show that lets the actors (and, by extension, the characters) laugh at each other, and I think the show is better for it.

On the morning of the road trip, Ted is super caffeinated on TANTRUM and ready to go. Before he leaves however, Robin announces some troubling news. She threw a chair at a guy in a bar fight at the Hoser Hut (her favorite Canadian bar) recently, and he’s pressing charges. She could be deported, and her lawyer says she ought to try to become an American citizen ASAP. Ted can’t muster up any sympathy in his uber-caffeinated state, and he goes to do some push-ups in the kitchen. Barney, however is enthusiastic about the idea of Robin becoming an American citizen. He wants to help her study for tomorrow’s citizenship exam. After he makes every study-related sexual innuendo possible, of course. This scene is really what Robin and Barney should be about. Not only is Robin not pissed off at Barney’s never ending stream of innuendo, she smiles and agrees when he apologizes and says “it’s a rich area.”

Soon enough, Marshall comes bursting into the apartment, also fully caffeinated and ready to go. So ready, in fact, that he tears a phone book in half. This gets a huge laugh from Neil Patrick Harris and Cobie Smulders, another example of what I mentioned earlier. The mood is broken quickly, however, when Lily arrives, too. Marshall invited her along, and Ted is not pleased.

Ted might have been willing to overlook this, but Lily has to take rest stop breaks constantly, brought healthy snacks, and wants the gang to listen to a sappy book on tape. This is contrasted with scenes from a Ted and Marshall 1999 road trip in the Fiero. There’s some wonderful continuity here, as the music playing in all the 1999 scenes is “I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles).” It was established in the second season episode “Arividerci Fiero” that a tape of this song was stuck in the car, so it was all they could listen to.

Meanwhile, Barney and Robin have sufficiently studied the actual citizenship test questions, but Barney has some additional questions just to see if Robin has the proper mindset of an American. The writers go deeper with their Canadian jokes in this episode. Instead of just making fun of Canada, they’re using Canada to poke fun at the United States. When Robin gets belligerent defending one of her answers to Barney, Barney replies with the Quote of the Episode, and it’s a beautiful, hilarious thing.

Ted’s day gets even worse when Marshall tells him they’re spending a night at a hotel. It’s called Crumpet Manor, and it caters to couples. There’s a Wishing Well and all manner of massages and other spa treatments. All designed for couples, of course. Ted is dismayed at how Marshall and Lily seem to have become a single being. That night, Ted has had enough, and he “kidnaps” Marshall by asking if Marshall wants to go get some beer. Instead of beer, they’re going to Chicago. This is a very Barney move, and I love it. At first, Marshall is upset, but four hours later, he’s TANTRUM-ed up and singing “I’m Gonna Be.”

Robin finds herself wandering the streets of New York all excited that she’s going to be an American soon. Somehow, maybe by fate, she ends up at the Hoser Hut, singing “O Canada” through tears with the Canadian Women’s Curling Team. Next thing she knows, Barney is waking her up in a run-down hotel room in Toronto. It turns out that Robin, as Barney put it, “went Canadian.” This is another scene I love. The thing I love most about this scene is that Barney tells Robin that she called him and said she was never coming back so “he jumped on a plane, flew across the Atlantic.” It’s another wonderful example of their chemistry, and how when they aren’t drinking the Marshall and Lily conventional couple Kool-aid, they’re actually quite awesome together.

Before heading back to New York, Barney and Robin stop by a Tim Horton’s around the corner from the Hockey Hall of Fame (aka the most Canadian place in the Universe) for coffee. To Robin’s dismay, the cashier mistakes Robin for an American. As Barney makes fun of the blue five dollar bill with kids playing hockey on the back, Robin wrestles with the fact that she essentially has no country. Barney’s not having that. He stands up on a chair and tells Canada he’s going to “fix [their] backward ass country.” He thinks Canada made a mistake letting Robin get away, and he’s getting her out of there. The Canadians aren’t going to take that insult, however. Some hockey guys circle around Barney, and a kid blocks the door with a hockey stick.

Meanwhile, in Chicago, Marshall and Ted found their pizza place, and it turns out it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. The crust is cornmeal, which reminds Marshall that he was supposed to have a cornmeal body scrub with Lily. And there are cockroaches. Ugh. Marshall is not pleased. He’s angry at Ted for making him abandon Lily. Ted’s angry because he thinks Marshall would rather be with Lily. Marshall, still in his tiny bathrobe, decides it’s time to leave, and Ted has no choice but to follow.

Ted and Marshall reconcile on the way back to the Crumpet, thanks to Lily’s book on tape, where the main character’s dog gets hit by a car. And it turns out Lily didn’t even miss them while they were gone. She was in spa treatment nirvana. Barney, however, didn’t fare as well. He needed quite a bit of free Canadian healthcare before he and Robin got back to New York. Robin, at least, has come to a conclusion. She wants dual citizenship.

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