How I Met Your Mother: Season 5, Episode 2
Double Date
When setting out on a first date, there is a sense of anticipation. The person you're about to go out with could very well be the one that you spend the rest of your life with. But more likely, they'll just be another first date that never leads to a second, and years down the road, encountering them again, you may pause to say "What if?" This is the question tonight's How I Met Your Mother posits when Ted goes on a blind date with Jen, who he also dated back in 2002. More than a study on how dates can go south quickly, "Double Date" is a look at how people change over time, and at what things about ourselves we aren't willing to lose at any cost.

Ted in 2002 was every bit the pretentious douche bag we have seen in flashbacks. He is still sporting the goatee, thinks he's poised to forever alter the skyline of Manhattan with his architecture, and likes to point out the errors on the menu (as Marshall puts it, "it's a lot cheaper than buying a condom."). The Jen of 2002 (who just lost her job after the internet bubble burst then and has just lost her job in the banking industry in the present) doesn't find Ted's puns clever and spends a bit too much time talking about her cats ("Tabigail Adams, the jester of the group."). She also doesn't do the check dance (reaching for the check even though she knows Ted will pay), which makes ted angry.

Ted and Jen spend their present date trying to make up for sins of the past. Ted explains that he wasn't checking out other girls on their date, he just noticed one of the gang's notorious doppelgangers (a joke I can only hope will be brought back"¦I can't wait to see Ted and Barney's doubles) Mustache Marshall at the bar. Jen learns not to talk about her ex boyfriend, unless it's to mention his sexual inadequacies. And Ted finds out that he didn't call her after their last encounter ("I have been so busy!" he quips). The two hit it off better this time, but ultimately realize that the things they do that irk each other are central to the people that they are. Ted loves pretentiously correcting menus and making bad puns, and Jen loves to talk about her cats. Rather than try to get over the annoyances that stand in their way, the two know they're better off trying to find someone who is actually endeared by their quirks.

Meanwhile, Barney has tricked Marshall into going to a strip club with him (Telling him it's the Origins of Chewbacca exhibit, which everyone knows is in Houston this year) where they discover Stripper Lily, another of the gang's doppelgangers. This presents a potential solution to Marshall's inability to fantasize about other women, as this woman looks identical to his wife. In an inspired and incredibly extended gag we learn that generally, in order to fantasize about another woman, Marshall must kill fantasy Lily off with a rare hiccup disorder (verified by a doctor who claims, "It says so right here on this doctor clipboard that doctor's have.") After struggling to find a cure, fantasy Lily passes, but not before instructing Marshall to wait an appropriate number of years, then find a woman and "plow her like a cornfield." After the advice to plow a girl like a cornfield is reiterated by a priest at fantasy Lily's funeral, Marshall waits an appropriate number of years before banging whatever girl he currently wants to fantasize about. The fantasy sequence is hilariously long and complicated, and at the end of it all, Lily is just upset Marshall kills her before fantasizing about anyone (Marshall points out "I even set up a foundation in your name. We're this close to a cure!").

While Lily enjoys the prospect of a stripper version of herself, Robin is less than thrilled that Barney is frequenting strip clubs. Considering last week she claimed they were just pretending to be in a relationship her reaction seems a little harsh, but the truth has clearly become obvious to her"”she is dating Barney, and as a result, he shouldn't be in strip clubs. He remains humorously aloof about her issues, however as Marshall gets a party room with his wife and her doppelganger.

This episode hit all the marks of an excellent How I Met Your Mother. It played with time, established an in-joke, was heavy on the humor and even gave long term fans a taste of master plot (even if it is only confirmation that The Mother laughs at Ted's shellfish joke, and its only "30% pity"). It also established an often overlooked point about continuity of self"”we do change over time, often in dramatic ways, but there are some things about ourselves that we are unwilling to sacrifice, even if that sacrifice means a long term relationship or a marriage.

Grade: A


-I love the doppelgangers! So far we know Lesbian Robin, Stripper Lily, and my personal favorite Mustache Marshall. Here's hoping for future sightings of those and other doppelgangers.

-"It's a little brisk out tonight." "Not really." "I can't feel my fingers." "I'm pretty impervious to that stuff."

-I love that when Jen dresses up her cats as Batman villains, she forgets Cat-woman. She is clearly not the mother.

-"I get confused about death and sex. It's gotten to the point that anytime I drive past the cemetery I'm sporting a partial."
Tags: How I Met Your Mother
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