The fifth season of How I Met Your Mother has come to a close. This season, we’ve seen Barney and Robin grow and separate as a couple. We’ve seen slap four of The Slap Bet. Marshall was mugged, Robin has become an American, Lily reconciled with her father, Ted has become a homeowner, and Barney has led a song and dance number about the majesty of suits. We’ve learned such tactics as The Sexless Innkeeper, the Lorenzo Von Matterhorn, and The Perfect Week. And on top of it all, the HIMYM gang found doppelgangers number 3 and 4, with doppelganger number 5 closing out the season.
To quickly recap, Marshall and Lily decided in the episode “Robots Vs Wrestlers” that having a child would permanently alter their social lives and their relationship with their friends, possibly for the worse. As such, the married pair decided they would postpone trying to conceive a child until the universe reveals Barney’s doppelganger, thus signifying they have had enough fun as a childless couple, and are ready to move on with their lives.
As the title for this week’s episode suggests, the wait was not long. As Marshall, Ted and Robin walk down the street one sunny morning, they spy the unmistakable visage of Barney Stinson, only brunette, suitless, and driving a cab. The fifth doppelganger. In his excitement, Marshall calls Lily and tells her the good news. Fate has decreed the time is right.
…Or so it would seem. In a double-switch, the so-called Barney doppelganger was simply Barney in disguise in yet another ingenious scheme to bed women. By camping a taxi outside the United Nations, Barney planned to successfully complete his self-imposed endeavor to score with one woman from every country on Earth, not realizing his fatal flaw. Nobody, especially not UN delegates, wants to have sex with a cab driver.
But aside from Barney’s shenanigans interfering with the biggest decision in Marshall and Lily’s life, other important events threaten to tear the group asunder. After years of struggling for a break in the world of journalism, Robin has finally been offered her dream job: hosting an actual morning news program. Unfortunately, the job requires permanent relocation to Chicago.
Debating the pros and cons of the decision, Ted offers the decisive piece of advice: Robin should stay in New York. Not for the sake of the group, but for Don. Robin has always put her career ahead of everything else, even if it means relocating to Japan, hosting fluff news at 4 AM, or co-hosting a Canadian variety show with Alan Thicke. Robin has never made a decision for herself. Based on everything Ted knows and feels about Robin and Don, he urges Robin to stay and further the relationship.
But the world isn’t that kind. Especially not to people on television. While Robin rushes home to tell Don the good news, she gets the worst possible reply. After Robin turned down the lead-anchor job in Chicago, the station offered the same position to Don, who graciously accepted. By putting romance ahead of her career only once, she wound up losing both. Despondent and alone, Robin rushes to Ted for comfort. In a moment of weakness (aided by alcohol), Robin almost kisses Ted, almost rekindling their doomed relationship, almost rendering Ted’s search for Mrs. Right moot. The only thing preventing the relapse was Ted’s ridiculous blond hair.
While discussing Barney’s supposed brunette counterpart, Lily commented that not many men can pull off having blond hair. Unwittingly launching this week’s c-plot, Ted mentions he once bleached his hair while working as a lifeguard. Realizing the golden opportunity to humiliate their friend, Robin, Marshall and Lily conspire to get Ted to re-dye his hair. Falling victim his friends’ prank, Ted spends the remainder of the episode being mocked and compared to Billy Idol, Eminem and Ellen DeGeneres. After all the jokes, Ted gives up and stuffs his peroxide-soaked locks under a hat, where they remained until Robin moved in for the attempted kiss. By removing the hat, Ted’s hair sent both him and Robin into a laughing fit, killing the moment, sparing the pair from any serious repercussions.
As for Marshall and Lily, the pair admit the time still isn’t right to try for a kid. In this week’s last laugh, set four months in the future, Lily finally does see Barney’s doppelganger. The real one, not just Barney in disguise. Rushing to reveal the look-alike to her friends, everybody runs outside to see a hot dog vendor… who looks nothing like Barney at all. But in Lily’s eyes, it’s close enough. Lily either subconsciously can’t wait or consciously refuses to wait any longer. The decision is too monumental to leave to fate, so Marshall lovingly throws the five-doppelganger rule into the wind and accepts his wife’s invitation for fertilization.
In conclusion, the five doppelgangers in question are not lesbian Robin, mustachioed Marshall, stripper Lily, Mexican wrestler Ted, and cab-driver/hot dog vendor Barney. They are the just normal Robin, Marshall, Lily, Ted and Barney. Five years ago, at the show’s beginning, Lily and Marshall were simply dating, but are now married and planning on children. Five years ago, Barney would never consider committing to a single woman, but proved even he was susceptible to love. Five years ago, Robin would do anything to advance her career, but now realizes there are some things more important than fame and success. Over time, the five characters have become their own doppelgangers. Through growth, development, and change, the only thing they share with their past selves are their visual facades.
And so ends the fifth season of How I Met Your Mother. It was a surprisingly subtle finale that avoided cliched tearjerkers and nail-biting moments of fake-drama. The season-long plotlines were nicely wrapped up, there were no cliched cliffhangers, but we as an audience still look forward eagerly to the next season. The titular mother is one step closer to being revealed, but more importantly, the all-important game-changer of a baby being added to the cast is on its way. We can only hope the forthcoming sixth season of How I Met Your Mother does not turn the series into a doppelganger of itself.