How I Met Your Mother: Season 5, Episode 5
Duel Citizenship
After last week's lackluster offering, How I Met Your Mother could have used a solid episode to erase the taste it left in my mouth last week. "Duel Citizenship" is better than "The Sexless Innkeeper" but it still strays far from the quality of this season's opening episodes. The show may have spoiled me by starting off so strong, but now I am left waiting for the next stellar episode.

The premise of the episode's A-story is strong enough, as Marshall and Ted discover that a pizza place in Chicago they used to road trip to in college is closing, and decide to head there one last time. Ted thinks he will have the chance to bond with Marshall again, just as they did on the trips of yore, but Marshall brings Lily along, as the two cannot be separated (and Alyson Hannigan needed something to do this week). I always enjoy a nice callback, and the references to the Fiero (may she/he rest in peace) and to "500 Miles" are both solid, but I think I was looking forward to some Ted-Marshall solo bonding just as much as they were. The show has always struggled to give Marshall and Lily any stories beyond their relationship, even more so since their marriage. It is true to their characters that they are virtually inseparable, but both Jason Segel and Alyson Hannigan are incredibly capable comedic presences, and they often feel squandered when they are painted into the "married couple" corner. That being said, the subplot does give us Kenny Rogers' reading of "A Dog Named Sparky" which provides for some serious laughs (as when Sparky, who apparently lives for like 20 years, gets hit by a car and "smashed like Gallagher used to smash watermelons.").

There's also a solid joke in Lily insisting the three stay in a bed and breakfast, especially one that caters specifically to couples. When Ted tries to find something to entertain his single self, the proprietress says, "I suppose I could arrange a little recreation. Do you enjoy sitting on a bench?" She also sends Ted off to find the Wishing Well. This provided for a few laughs, but also one of the episode's suspension of disbelief stretching moments when Lily didn't notice Marshall had left because she was so relaxed she ignored her phone.

In the B-Plot, Robin must consider becoming an American citizen after a bar fight at the Hoser Hut (also a solid callback) results in assault charges. This plotline allows for some excellent America jokes, and a few more increasingly tired Canada ones, but its really Neil Patrick Harris who carries it through (as he so often does). Barney sets out to ensure Robin becomes a citizen by Americanizing her. His plan? "Ok, I'm going to drill you"¦and then we'll study. We'll do some cramming"¦and then we'll study. We'll bone up"¦and then we'll study." He tries to explain to her that to Americans, the Queen is Elton John, and teaches her that George Jefferson lived next door to the Bunkers, but Robin is tempted into the Hoser Hut for one last drink. She wakes up in a room full of Canadian memorabilia, where Barnet tells her she went Canadian, and flings open the curtains to reveal"¦a brick wall. "This was supposed to be a dramatic view of the Toronot skyli"”youre in Toronto!" Barney discovered Robin's whereabouts and flew "across the Atlantic" to retrieve her in time for the test. This all leads to a pretty cute speech wherein Barney claims Robin as his own and gets his ass kicked by a Tim Horton's full of large Canadian men (and one hockey stick wielding boy). This is all humorous, but never hysterical, and the plotline has some inherent problems as well. For one thing, I don't think you can successfully apply for citizenship with pending charges against you, and for another, it seems a bit stupid that it took the whole episode for Robin to realize she could just get dual citizenship.

Overall the episode was pretty run of the mill. There were a few nice surprises, but no big laughs and a bit more stretching of the truth than I usually look for in this show. Here's hoping the writer's find something to latch onto to bring us back on track after the last few episodes have strayed a bit from the standard hysterical HIMYM path. If that something happens to be the master-plot, I'll be all the more excited for it.

Grade: B-


-The blip at the end was profoundly stupid. Lily on top of the car? This isn't Scrubs, and this show tends to require its occurrences to be at least physically plausible.

-While we're on Lily, her repeated need to pee tonight reminded me that we are about 1 year past "Intervention," the episode in which we got a flash forward showing Robin and Barney acting couple-y. Also in the flash forward was Lily drinking water while the rest of the gang enjoyed their bottle of scotch. I really hope this is just another pregnancy red-herring. This show does not need a baby yet.

-Marshall ripping the phonebook on Tantrum.

-"You guys want to talk about bitches? I'm just kidding, they're called women!"

-"I don't care, that's dumb; let's go buy something that's bad for us and then sue who made it. That's America!"

-"Sparky loved to chase balls. Tennis balls"¦Soccerballs"¦Baseballs"¦Grapefruit, which isn't a ball but is round like a ball"¦footballs, which aren't round but are technically balls"¦"

-"I've abandoned my wife! How am I supposed to have fun?" Immediate jump cut to Ted and Marshall rocking out to "500 Miles."
Tags: How I Met Your Mother
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