How I Met Your Mother: “The Sexless Innkeeper” (Episode 5.04) and “Duel Citizenship” (Episode 5.05)

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How I Met Your Mother: “The Sexless Innkeeper” (Episode 5.04) and “Duel Citizenship” (Episode 5.05)

Air Dates: October 12, 2009 (“The Sexless Innkeeper”); October 19, 2009 (“Duel Citizenship”)
Writers: Carter Bays and Craig Thomas (“The Sexless Innkeeper”), Chuck Tatham (“Duel Citizenship”)
Director: Pamela Fryman

Even with Lily’s excessive urination and insistence on playing a book-on-tape, Ted and Marshall’s road trip became a much-needed detour for Season Five, if not a near reversal of all that went wrong in “The Sexless Innkeeper.”

Now, “The Sexless Innkeeper” is hardly How I Met Your Mother’s first depiction of couple life with one gang member singled out. In Episode 02.10, “Single Stamina,” Barney is forced to call for brother James (Wayne Brady) when he alone cannot coerce the couples out of their nights of television, board games and jammies (or as he says, their “arc of sexless boredom”).

But just as Marshall and Lily had tried too hard to make other couples like them, “The Sexless Innkeeper” tried too hard to reinterpret married life into something that singletons could understand, by introducing the ideas of a fifth and sixth wheel, a joint gorging of ice-cream, and a two-couple minimum for brunch (with the waitress asking Robin and Barney, “Just the two of you?”). All that had been set to original number “All By Ourselves” felt like, well, a charade, especially in comparison to the well-crafted poems depicting single life. (“With haste we did scamper to our chamber anon / We fell to the couch and bro, it was on.”)

However, by swapping Gouda for cornmeal and leaving out some of the farce, “Duel Citizenship” was much easier to digest. Even when Barney says he flew across the Atlantic from New York to Canada, we want to believe him because his devotion toward Robin seems real. And when Kenny Rogers (as the book-on-tape narrator) tells Ted and Marshall there should always be time for man’s best friend, dog or otherwise, we realize that Rogers is right. After all, we have all been the third wheel before.

So whether Barney suits up with Tim Gunn or fat-suits up with a relationship gut, we should really hope to see two things on How I Met Your Mother next week: that Jason Segel continues his on-point performance as a married man, and that the episode does not suffer from couple’s coma.