A review of the “How I Met Your Mother” finale coming up just as soon as I do surprisingly well in the Baltics…
“Dopplegangers” didn’t provide us any movement on the Mother front, nor did it provide much hope for Robin & Barney fans like (if anything, Barney’s reaction to Robin’s potential move was entirely about the group and not about him losing her), but it was the first episode in quite some time to simultaneously make me laugh and feel like an episode of “HIMYM,” with its meditations on growing up, making big life changes and, if possible, tricking friends into dying their hair blonde so you can make fun of them.
With Carter Bays and Craig Thomas back as credited writers for the first time since February’s “Rabbit Or Duck,” the show pulled off that balance of silly and sweet that’s been eluding it of late. Lily’s nightmare of the gang watching her and Marshall have sex was funny (particularly Robin’s “This just in…” joke), but that story had the ring of emotional truth to it. That Lily would rest such a huge decision on an idea like the dopplegangers was ridiculous, but the show saw it for that, let her realize she’s ready, and set us up for our first major story arc of season six.
And if the Robin/Don relationship never seemed to come alive, we got to hear Cobie Smulders do a cute puppet voice while espousing the virtues of drug experimentation, and then do some nice acting as Don took the job she turned down so she could be with him. Robin and Ted’s almost-kiss was something I suspected they might try, and it was clever to have Ted’s blonde hair go from target of easy jokes to accidental friendship savior.
(The only problem is the one I mentioned when “Twin Beds” aired: now that Robin has grown as much as she has, there is absolutely no reason for her and Ted to not try dating again – and Smulders and Josh Radnor are still very good together – other than that Future Ted decreed it to be so.)
Despite loading up on the telepathy jokes and putting Barney in two different silly wigs, “Dopplegangers” managed to stay fairly grounded.
Obviously, there’s still the matter of the Mother – and Ted’s pep talk to Robin ignored his lament from earlier this season that all his friends have grown and he’s still basically the guy who stole the blue French horn – and if the show doesn’t go for some forward momentum on that early in season six, that could be a problem. But the big flaw of season five wasn’t necessarily the lack of Mother (outside our glimpse of her foot in “Girls vs. Suits”), but just a lack of direction in general. If Bays, Thomas and company have some story arcs in mind and plan to stick with them – starting with Lily and Marshall facing the huge upheaval that will come with a baby – then the Mother is less important. But if they intend to just tell more largely unconnected stories about a group of now-thirtysomething pals having weird adventures in Manhattan, well… they need to make them funnier.
“Dopplegangers” was a strong step back in the old, right direction.
What did everybody else think?