Season 5 of How I Met Your Mother continues strong with this episode, with plenty of trick camerawork and amusing costumes to keep us amused during an episode that's basically a status update on where Ted, Barney, and Robin are in their lives plus a few ridiculous costumes.
True to its name, Double Date makes heavy use of doubles, from Ted and his blind date Jen walking side by side with their 2002 selves to the hilarious doppelgangers that let the rest of the cast play around with their own characters.
I, for one, am a fan of any time that Josh Radnor puts on the goatee and plays Pretentious Douchebag Ted. It's a great break from the current, more neurotic Ted, and seeing the two Teds side by side is the perfect way to illustrate the evolution of Ted over the course of the show. Well - three Teds, technically, since Bob Saget's voiceover provides yet another perspective on the events.
From his lame jokes to his incessant nit-picking, we see that Ted hasn't fundamentally changed very much from his original incarnation. He is, however, much more comfortable in his own skin now than he was at the beginning of the show, and while he's lost a bit of his comic edge from previous seasons, he's also far more likeable now than he was when he was lying to himself the entire time he was dating Robin. It was easy to see his growth at the end of the episode, where he didn't just duck Jen and run - he told her exactly why it wasn't going to work, in one of the most mature conversations we've ever seen from Ted.
Lily and Marshall
The episode's long trip through Marshall's convoluted fantasies about other women had me laughing the whole time. The elaborate mental gymnastics required for Marshall to think about someone who's not Lily were at once completely expected and wildly enjoyable. We all knew the punch line at the end of the 3-minute fantasy sequence, but the sheer amount of affirmation Marshall needed was ludicrous and fun. The priest saying "plow her like a corn field" was the icing on the comedy cake.
I know that Stripper Lily and Moustache Marshall won't show up very often, but I have enjoyed cast's tendency to get into ridiculous costumes ever since Robin Sparkles made her appearance. They hopefully won't be overused, but hearing Alyson Hannigan with an accent and seeing Jason Segel as Senor Justicia were great diversions and definitely worth seeing again.
Robin and Barney
The continuing adventures of Robarney feel like a more uptempo version of season 2, as Robin applies the lessons she learned from her relationship with Ted to her time with Barney. Neil Patrick Harris is brilliant as usual in his portrayal of Barney, who's now caught between having a regular girlfriend and living the high life. Barney's willful ignorance contrasted with Robin's open honesty will make for some interesting scenes this season, and this episode showed the beginnings of that. Eventually Barney's act will wear thin, but for now it's just plain funny.
As an aside, 10 seconds of Lesbian Robin alone made this episode worth watching.
All in all, I think this episode is another high note for How I Met Your Mother. The jokes were sharp, the characters felt like old friends, and season 5 is looking like a huge improvement over the roller coaster ride that was season 4 already.
Do you agree? Is Season 5 going to be a nonstop hit or are we due for some stinkers?