How I Met Your Mother’ shaky fifth season? A little easier to swallow now thanks to last night’s stellar finale. Everything the show does when it’s good — string along clever devices; make fun of its characters; accurately simulate human reactions between a tight-knit group of friends; be sappy but not too sappy — it managed to do in the finale. A big part of it goes to the fact that the writers — who, with the show picked up for another season, are assumably in a holding pattern seeing how long they’ll be stretching the story out — were allowed to get back to plot development for the season’s last episode. Also important: We think Marshall Eriksen and Lily Aldrin would make great parents!
So, yeah, the baby stuff: A few episodes back, Marshall and Lily decided that once they see Barney’s doppelgänger — following Lesbian Robin, Moustache Marshall, Stripper Lily, and Mexican Wrestler Ted — it’d be the universe’s way of telling them it’s time to get pregnant. And then, bam, they do: It’s Cabdriver Barney, and it’s time for unprotected sex. But oh no! Marshall discovers it’s actually just Barney Barney, pretending to be a cabdriver to pick up chicks at the UN and accomplish his goal of sleeping with a woman from every country in the world. (Two good lines here: “You’re doing surprisingly well in the Baltics” and “Chicks don’t want to bang cabdrivers?”) But then it doesn’t even matter that it’s not the fifth doppelgänger, because Lily thought Cabdriver Barney looked like a “petite potbellied Asian man” before she knew it actually was Barney, so she’s clearly not ready for a baby anyways. Bummer.
Elsewhere, everything’s going great with Robin and Don (remember that dude?). Only, of course, Robin gets offered the lead anchor job at a station in Chicago, and must decide between career and romance again. After Ted makes a not-bad Harlem Globetrotters–Washington Generals metaphor, Robin decides she’s going with the job. The gang is crushed! That lasts like fourteen seconds, though, because then Robin decides she’s going to stay. For Don. Yay! And then the actual twist of the knife: After Robin turned down the job they offered it to Don, and he took it. Robin cries, and it is seriously sad. (By the way, we are consciously ignoring Ted’s “we’re our own doppelgänger” bit that follows. That was atrocious.)
Okay, on to the fun stuff: Ted dies his hair blonde because he thinks it looks good, and that’s funny on its own. But raising the stakes on the gag is the way the crew tricks Ted into doing it, once he floats the idea, by emphatically arguing against it, knowing Ted is kind of an idiot. He is kind of an idiot! Good call, guys. The best part of the episode, though, was Barney pretending to be the Estonian street juggler Kristoff Doppelgänger, so that Marshall and Lily could be allowed to have a baby. First, it was funny (“Who is this Barney? I would be interested in reading some of his opinion in blog form”). Then, it was sweet: Turns out, Barney’s a good dude! He wants Marshall and Lily to have a baby! These people haven’t just been hanging out with a fraudulent sex addict all these years!
A few more developments and then it’s official: Marshall and Lily will, presumably, be with child at some point next season. Sappy, but not too sappy.
The Shame Index was not amused: "The Index finds it baffling that the writers would throw away the opportunity to explore, with a modicum of seriousness, the momentous decisions about when to conceive a child — and how to balance two careers against the desire to start a family (in New York City no less)."
The AV Club is "glad tonight's season finale didn't swing for the fences. In its quiet way, it gave us a nice moment to sum up the show and move it forward one step."