One of my most esteemed newsroom colleagues, let's call him Ben, has vowed to stop watching "How I Met Your Mother" the moment they insert a baby in the cast.
With Lily's invitation in Monday night's season finale for Marshall to, as she delicately put it, "put a baby in my belly," I fear that Ben won't stick around too long next season. Then again, we could get nine or 10 episodes into next season before we learn that Marshall has been rendered sterile after all those years of eating "big sandwiches."
(Because in Catholic school, that's what they told us would happen if we smoked too much weed.)
Baby or no baby, Monday night's search for Barney's doppelganger and Ted's disastrous decision to go blond helped tie a neat bow on what has been an uneven season.
In previous episodes, we have seen doppelgangers for almost the entire gang roaming the streets of Manhattan. First there was Lesbian Robin, hawking a loogie as she crossed a busy street. Then there was Mustache Marshall, on the bus ads pitching his legal services as "Señor Justice," followed by Russian stripper Lily and, most recently, Mexican Wrestler Ted.
Marshall and Lily agree that when they finally see Barney's doppelganger, that will be the sign from the universe they need to start trying to make a baby. Cue the entrance of Cab Driver Barney, a raven-haired double who appears to be the sign Marshall needed to formally announce to everyone, "Guys, Lily and I are having unprotected sex."
The discovery of a brunette Barney triggers a discussion about how much cooler he looks as a blond, prompting Ted to insist that a past summer spent lifeguarding helped bleach out his hair. Without saying a word to each other, Ted's friends know they must convince him to go blond just so that they can ridicule him.
Credit Marshall with a little verbal jujitsu, telling Ted he could never pull off the blond look. So Ted goes blond to prove to everyone that, just like his red cowboy boots, he so can pull it off.
What he pulls off, however, is an invitation for Barney and Marshall to refer to Blond Ted as Ellen DeGeneres and Billy Idol (who together no doubt would make the coolest celebrity baby ever).
The afternoon before Marshall and Lily are scheduled to start Operation Baby, Marshall discovers that Cab Driver Barney is really just Barney with a shoeblack wig, hoping to pick up hot foreign women stepping out of the United Nations. There's only one flaw in his shortcut plan to bed a woman from every country in the world.
"Chicks do NOT want to bang cab drivers," Barney admits.
Marshall feels conflicted about telling Lily that Cab Driver Barney wasn't a sign from the universe, only to discover at the precipice of coitus that Lily still has reservations about starting a family. That comes as a relief to Barney, who crashed into their bedroom to break up the party.
With Robin falling deeper into love with her live-in co-anchor boyfriend Don, Barney clearly has some worries about the gang splitting up and is not ready for baby plot lines either. Or so you'd think midway through the episode.
Robin faces a tough decision of her own when she's offered a lead anchor job at a Chicago TV station. It's another career-vs.-romance choice for her, which she portrays as a neverending battle in her life.
Blond Ted guffaws from his hair salon chair and points out to Robin that career has been trumping romance in her life decisions for years. He compares "Career" to the Harlem Globetrotters and "Romance" to the Washington Generals, "a bunch of slow white guys who couldn't make it in the Italian League."
Yet Robin decides to give the Generals a break and calls the TV station to pass on the job and stay in New York with Don. Only she gets a cruel kick in the gut when Don is their backup choice for the job, and he accepts it without a second thought.
Leave it to Blond Ted to comfort a weepy Robin by convincing her that her decision to choose love over career was a sign of personal growth, something she never would have done five years ago, just as five years ago Marshall and Lily weren't even close to getting married, let alone talking about raising a family, just as Barney wasn't even close to trying to stay in a committed relationship as he did briefly with Robin.
(That last example was a little weak, Ted.)
A drunk and consoled Robin starts leaning over to kiss a drunk but game Ted. Thankfully, the sight of Ted's blond hair breaks the spell and prompts her to start laughing, saving us from a Scrubs-like, on-again, off-again romance.
Outside the apartment, Marshall and Lily stumble across Barney Doppelganger No. 2. Meet Cristoph Dop ElGanger, a red-haired Estonian street performer who sounds like Borat but who definitely looks like Barney. Because he is Barney, as Lily figures out the disguise is Barney's way of showing he is ready to become Uncle Barney to their future baby.
With Barney's blessing, Lily mistakes a spindly hot dog vendor for Barney's true doppelganger. The gang goes with her delusion, and Operation Babymaking appears to be back on.
All of that, and not one hint at when Ted will ever meet the future mom of his future children. I'm guessing that unlike Lost, they won't need 2½ hours to unravel that mystery whenever they decide to call it quits.
When they do, can someone tell Ben how it worked out?