In this week's episode, Ted goes on a blind date only to realize he already met the same girl on a blind date seven years earlier. Things didn't go so well last time, but Ted's supposedly a different guy now. Will he have better luck the second time around?
We open with split screens of 2002 Ted (sporting the goatee!) and 2009 Ted getting ready for their dates. Future Ted informs us that his routine was pretty much the same, and he's not wrong—the shots of both Teds grooming are more or less identical. Both Teds arrive at their date's apartment; 2002 Ted casually unfastens the top button on his shirt while 2009 Ted hastily fastens the same button on his shirt. Both Teds meet their date, Jen. 2002 Jen has straight hair and bangs; 2009 Jen is much more put together, with wavy hair and an absolutely knockout blue dress. Neither 2009 Ted nor 2009 Jen recall meeting each other earlier.
At McLaren's, Barney tells Robin, Marshall and Lily that he has four tickets to the Origins of Chewbacca Star Wars exhibit. Naturally, Marshall is beyond excited, but the girls are uninterested—Robin snarks that it's a bit early in their relationship to talk about something that's so incredibly uncool that it would end their relationship—so it turns into a guy's night out.
Once they leave the bar, Barney tells Marshall that they're not going to the Star Wars exhibit after all—he just wanted to get rid of the girls so he could take Marshall to the Lusty Leopard. Barney explains that since he and Robin got together, he's learned a lot about relationships by watching Marshall and Lily. Specifically, he's learned that Lily has taken all of the manliness out of Marshall. Marshall asks if Robin would be okay if she knew Barney was at a strip club. Barney, who probably has not forgotten the Thanksgiving dinner he shared with Robin and Ted at the same strip club four years ago, figures Robin would be totally cool with it and maybe even join him.
Back at the Lusty Leopard, Marshall is totally uncomfortable, and Barney calls him out on it and tells him that checking out strippers is harmless, "like fantasizing about other women." Marshall explains that he feels incredibly guilty fantasizing about other women, and it turns out that the fantasies he does have involve Lily dying of a rare hiccup disease, but not before first giving her blessing for Marshall to move on (after an appropriate amount of time, of course) and find a hot girl to "plow like a cornfield." The fantasy continues with the priest at Lily's funeral giving him the same farm-related exhortation, and then, and only then, can Marshall's fantasy conclude with him (after pausing to reflect on his dearly departed) nailing the hot delivery girl who kicked off this fantasy. Whew!
"That is the saddest thing I've ever heard," says Barney. He orders Marshall to put Lily completely out of his mind and focus solely on the next stripper to get on stage. There's only one problem: The new stripper looks exactly like Lily.
Meanwhile, Ted is on his date. He takes Jen to the same restaurant they went to seven years earlier. As they banter about jobs and food, we're treated to 2002 Ted and 2009 Ted both making the same lame shellfish joke—which falls flat with Jen both times. They finally realize that they've been on this date before.
"Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't remember the date going that well," Ted says. Jen says that 2002 Ted came off as snobby because he pointed out that the restaurant spelled "Maine lobster" without the "e" on their menu. "Good thing we're not getting the crappy understudy lobster," 2002 Ted cracks. 2009 Jen tells Ted that pointing out typos in a menu made him seem "snooty." I'm sorry, but I have to side with Ted here. It's about the details. If a restaurant has typos in its menu, I'm seriously going to wonder about the quality of the establishment. And that goes for most situations. After all, wouldn't you, as my readers, be more inclined to doubt my abilities as a recapper if this blog were full of misspellings or typos, or if I kept calling Barney "Blarney"? Appearances and first impressions make a huge difference, and typos that should be easily avoided (like misspelling the state of Maine) give a bad impression. So whatever, Jen. Also? I would totally have laughed at Ted's "crappy understudy" joke. But then again, Ted's "Mr. Corrector" persona is my favorite side of his character, so maybe I'm not one to talk.
But Ted realizes that maybe his first impression wasn't that great. Fair enough. Jen asks what she did wrong in 2002. Ted remembers that she didn't do the "check dance"—i.e., she didn't even try to take the check when it came. According to Ted, guys like it when girls at least offer to pay. That way, the guy can make a big show of waving her off and paying the whole bill. Also? She talked about her cats way too much. 2009 Ted and Jen realize that they've been scaring people off, so they decide to recreate the rest of the date.
Robin and Lily are still hanging at McLaren's when Marshall and Barney return from the strip club. Barney excitedly tells the girls that they've spotted the Third Doppelganger. Future Ted explains that previously, the gang had spotted two people who looked exactly like members of their group: Lesbian Robin and Mustache Marshall. Now they can add Stripper Lily to the list. Future Ted teases us by saying that they would go on to find the other two Doppelgangers by the next summer. Ooh, something to look forward to! Thanks, Future Ted!
Marshall starts to apologize to Lily for being at a strip club, but she thinks it's incredibly cool that there was a stripper there with her face. Robin, however, seems less than thrilled. "So...strip club?" she coolly asks Barney, who almost swallows his tongue before responding, "Marshall made me go." He tries to rationalize it by saying that Marshall shouldn't have to go to so much trouble to have an innocent fantasy. "What trouble?" asks Lily. Marshall reluctantly explains about his elaborate fantasies. Turns out that the other girls in the fantasies don't so much bother her, but the death part does. "Fantasize about other girls all you want, but could you maybe not murder me?!" she asks.
Meanwhile, Ted is learning more about what went wrong with Jen in 2002. For one thing, he didn't offer her his jacket—which he was carrying, not wearing—when she displayed obvious signs of being cold. Geez Ted, not cool! He tells her that she spent too much time talking about her ex-boyfriend.
Ted and Jen head to McLaren's to hang out with the gang, which they also did in 2002. Jen explains to the group that Ted came off as kind of a player. In flashback, we see 2002 Barney apparently nudging Ted to check out a hot girl at the bar. But in Ted's flashback, we see that the girl is only interesting because she's talking to Mustache Marshall. Hee! Oh, I hope we see a lot more of the Doppelgangers, because I'm loving them so far.
After some more flirting, Ted and Jen wind up on the roof, where their 2002 date ended with a sweet kiss. "What went wrong?" 2009 Ted muses. Jen remembers: 2002 Ted promised that he would call her...but never did. Ouch. "I have been soooo busy," is the only lame excuse Ted can come up with. Jen starts to leave.
(Side rant for a second. We're on commercial break right now, and as excited as I am to get Season 4 on DVD, I hate the commercials CBS has been airing for it. I'm a huge fan of the Barney/Robin relationship, but come on, that wasn't the only storyline of Season 4! Does anyone else remember Stella? Or a little plot development where Ted was left at the altar? Sigh. Okay, back to the show.)
Ted calls Jen on her cell phone to apologize before she leaves the roof, but it's too little, too late. "There are two kinds of guys," Jen explains. "The guys you want to call, who don't; and the guys you don't want to call, who always do. And somehow, right now, you're both." Ouch.
Meanwhile, Lily tells Marshall that he should be able to fantasize about girls without feeling guilty. Marshall agrees, because his fantasies are making him all confused about death and sex. Lily attempts to solve the problem by taking Marshall back to the strip club and giving him permission to fantasize about Stripper Lily. She even pays for Marshall to have a private dance! But Barney's still in hot water with Robin as he tries to convince her that he doesn't go to the strip club that often—even though he's on a first-name basis with all of the strippers, wait staff and DJs. Actually, Barney's already kind of sucking at this whole relationship thing. He keeps telling himself that his girlfriend is totally cool with him being at a strip club, despite Robin very clearly telling him that it upsets her. This does not bode well for the two of them.
On the roof, Ted manages to keep Jen around long enough to say that if things had gone slightly different back in 2002, they might be married by now. She's taken in by it, and they lean in to kiss...until Ted realizes that this isn't going to work. "I like finding typos in menus," he explains. "And I'm not going to suddenly stop making stupid jokes." Jen agrees that she's probably never going to stop talking about her cats. "Shouldn't we hold out for the person who doesn't just tolerate our little quirks, but actually likes them?" Ted asks. Jen agrees, then wishes Ted luck and reassures him that he'll find his "shellfish lady" someday. Sure enough, Future Ted informs us that when The Mother first heard the shellfish joke, she laughed.
So what did you guys think of the second Season 5 episode? Who was your favorite Doppelganger? (Personally, Lesbian Robin's two-second cameo cracked me up and I'd love to see more of her.) What do you think Ted and Barney's Doppelgangers will be? Can Barney be mature enough to handle a relationship? Do you correct typos in menus? And has Ted changed at all since 2002, honestly? Discuss! -- Angela Dalecki