Wednesday, August 11, 2010

HIMYM 5.24: "Doppelgangers"

“Marshall Eriksen, put a baby in my belly.”

“Doppelgangers” was nowhere near the best that HIMYM finales have to offer. “Come On” with its guest appearance by the always wonderful Amy Acker, “Something Blue” with the emotional surprise break-up of Ted and Robin, and “The Leap” with its wonderful Barney and Robin moments all rank higher in my book. There were so many episodes of Season 5 that lacked heart or thoughtful characterization, though, that this one was a bit of a relief. Even though it’s a sitcom, I expect to “aww” and get a little teary in addition to the laughs when I watch HIMYM, and that just didn’t happen enough in Season 5. “Doppelgangers,” at least, had a few “aww” moments, and a few good laughs. That made it one of the better episodes of the season overall, at least.

With the title of “Doppelgangers,” it’s pretty obvious that the episode centers around the agreement Marshall and Lily made in “Robots vs. Wrestlers” that when they finally saw Barney’s doppelganger, they would start trying for a baby. Marshall has seen a cab driver that looks suspiciously like Barney, and he rushes to get Lily’s opinion. Lily thinks the cab driver looks like Barney too. There’s an amusing scene where they debate just how much to tell their friends about their decision. They imagine the gang literally interrupting them in the bedroom, and it made me laugh just because of how each entrance was perfectly in character. Ted, for instance, wants to welcome the new baby before he or she is even created. Marshall later finds out that the cab driver was actually Barney running a con as part of his personal goal to have sex with women from as many countries as possible. Marshall frets over whether or not he should tell Lily the truth about the “fifth doppelganger.”

At MacLaren’s, the group is discussing how Barney is one of the few guys who can actually pull of blond hair when Ted mentions that one summer when he was lifeguarding, he tried blond hair himself. The gang decides it would be hilarious to see Ted go blond, so they use a bit of reverse psychology to make sure it happens. They all tell Ted that he would look horrible with blond hair, so of course next thing we know, Ted has blond hair. This plot overall was pretty silly and didn’t have much substance at all, but I can forgive it because it gave us a great moment near the end of the episode, which I’ll mention in just a bit.

On a more serious note, Robin has a big decision to make. A news program in Chicago saw a show she and Don performed especially well, and they offer Robin the lead anchor job. Robin is torn over whether or not she wants to stay in New York or pursue her dream job. Ted and Barney hear the news first (and of course we get one of Neil Patrick Harris’ always effective “sad Barney” looks), and the three rush right to Marshall and Lily’s apartment to get their opinion on Robin’s situation. This happens, of course, just as Marshall and Lily are about to start trying for the baby. I thought it was hilarious that the nightmare scenario Marshall and Lily imagined actually sort of came true. On a slightly more serious note, the incident forces Marshall to admit to Lilly that the cab driver was actually Barney, not a Barney doppelganger. After letting her friends know what’s going on, Robin says she’s going to take the Chicago job, over all of their objections. She changes her mind however, when she actually goes to make the call. She looks at a photo of herself and Don, and she decides to stay for him.

Marshall and Lilly are walking down the street when they see yet another potential Barney doppelganger. This one is a juggler. He claims to be Estonian, but it’s obvious that it’s the real Barney again. Two important realizations result from this encounter. The first is that Barney, who constantly rants about how people shouldn’t have kids before they’re 40, might actually want Lily and Marshall to have a baby after all. Lily speculates that it’s Barney facing the prospect of losing somebody he loves (Robin) that has made him think that having a baby in the group wouldn’t be so bad. I don’t quite get the intellectual leap Lily made there, but the fact that she still acknowledges Barney loves Robin is sweet. The second realization is that Lily isn’t ready for a baby. Before Lily knew the cab driver was Barney, she had started trying to justify to Marshall why she thought he didn’t look like Barney at all. Marshall recognizes that Lily was going out of her way to say that the “sign from the universe” hadn’t happened yet, so she must really not want a baby. And he’s okay with that, which is why Marshall and Lily are awesome.

Robin is not as lucky in her love life as Lily. She and Don are home after work, and Don tells Robin that he took the job in Chicago. When Robin is upset, he tells her that she doesn’t know what it’s like to get your dream job and have to consider turning it down. Robin informs him that she does indeed know exactly what that’s like, and she leaves the apartment in tears. I was very, very happy about this development. Not that Robin is so deeply hurt, but that Don is finally gone. I resented hearing and not seeing how wonderful and perfect he was once he actually decided to put on some pants, especially so soon after Robin’s relationship with Barney was so horribly mishandled.

Robin finds herself at Ted’s apartment in tears, asking Ted if she can move back in. My “oh no they are totally hooking up Ted and Robin again” radar started to go off. In fact, both times I’ve seen this episode, during the original broadcast and when I recently rewatched it to write this blog, I started saying “no no no no” (I can’t remember if I got to sixteen “no’s” or not, for those of you who have seen earlier seasons of HIMYM). Robin and Ted are sitting on the couch, and Ted tells her he thinks it’s a great thing that Robin is finally reached a place where she is willing to put her career on hold for love. They are about to kiss when Robin notices Ted’s blond hair and starts cracking up. Even Saget!Ted admits that the blond hair kept them from doing something they would have almost certainly regretted.

I thought the final scene of the episode was really sweet. Four months later, Lily swears she saw the real Barney doppelganger working a hot dog cart. When the gang rushes out of MacLaren’s to see the doppelganger, though, the guy looks absolutely nothing like Barney. Marshall silently tells the rest of the group to go with it, though. The fact that Lily is stretching to find a Barney doppelganger means that she is finally ready to have a baby, and Marshall is ecstatic. I thought that this scene ended the season on a better note that we could have seen, and it gave the episode what every episode of HIMYM really needs to be excellent- heart. I was considering giving up HIMYM for this upcoming fall TV season, but my rewatch of “Doppelgangers” sucked me back in with some hope that it might return to being the show I loved.

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