How I Met Your Mother: "The Slutty Pumpkin Returns"


    How I Met Your Mother's "The Slutty Pumpkin Returns." Photo courtesy of CBS Broadcasting.

    A revelation shakes Barney’s very being; Lily and Marshall battle Pregnancy Brain; Ted finally meets his Halloween mystery girl.

    HIMYM has established more long-running plot holes than possibly any other show on television. This season, for example, we’re already waiting on the answers to several questions. Will Barney marry Nora or Robin? Why will Marshall be in a casino wearing a shirt that says he loves someone named Steph? What happened to the stranger Robin met while boot shopping with Ted? And, of course, who is the mother? Thus, with two full seasons set to air, the writers are tasked with resolving all these storylines before the identity of the mom is finally revealed. As potentially the last Halloween episode of HIMYM, then, we finally unveil the secret behind the Tale of the Slutty Pumpkin.

    Slutty Pumpkin, Ted reminds us, is the mystery girl he met at a Halloween party in 2001 and then lost track of. A hopeless romantic, Ted has gone back to the same rooftop every October for the past ten years in hopes of another encounter. But as luck would have it, he just happens to see the eponymous costume in a rental store window. And — what are the odds — the clerk (who has somehow made a living off of hawking promiscuous vegetable outfits) has all past customers on record!

    Armed with an address and a decade’s worth of pent-up feelings, Ted pays Slutty Pumpkin a visit, and not only is she just as perfect as he’d remembered — she’s been waiting for him to find her, too. He takes Slutty Pumpkin (hereafter referred to as Naomi, though I completely missed the part where she introduces herself by name) out to the rooftop where they met, and all the conditions for a perfect evening are in place: wine, a candlelit dinner, moonlight. But when they finally kiss, all of Ted’s dreaming turns out to be in vain. The two have absolutely no chemistry.

    Meanwhile, while paying a visit to her relatives, Lily’s grandparents give her and Marshall their house, and Lily immediately decides they should move to the suburbs. Back in the bar, Robin informs Marshall that as excited as she may be, Lily’s enthusiasm is merely a side effect of her rampant Pregnancy Brain — high hormones resulting in egregious mix-ups and more than a few emotional breakdowns. When Marshall tells Lily this, she agrees, and they head off to the house to show it to a real estate broker. However, still-unconvinced Lily uses a strange combination of sexual euphemisms and adorable neighborhood trick-or-treaters to lure Marshall into moving, and he is almost unable to resist. But one last emotional display of Pregnancy Brain (involving taking a page out of Karen Walker’s book and giving wine to children) is all they both need to realize that they shouldn’t be making any rash decisions — they’ve got time to plan out the rest of their lives.

    Barney experiences his own Halloween horror story when Robin discovers he is actually one quarter Canadian — thus, in an episode strangely devoid of either of their significant others, beginning a Robin/Barney song-and-dance that reminds everyone of why their friendship works (does no one else think that Robin got over Barney and into Kevin just a little too quickly?). Vindicated after bearing the brunt of his insults for the past six seasons, Robin takes great delight in reminding Barney of his heritage at every opportunity, mainly by getting super Canadian and making references that no one really understands. When he tells her to finally end it, Robin promises to stop on one condition: he dress up as a Mountie at the yearly rooftop party. But Barney, never one to back down, dons a boxing Uncle Sam costume instead, emerging with his own theme music and cheering for America all the while.

    Recounting the date to the others, Ted levels that everything is awkward, but Naomi seems to be into it, so he’s following suit. Robin, continuing to dish out the reality, tells him that he can’t fake chemistry when it isn’t there. Ted valiantly ignores this reasonable advice and goes on a second date at Naomi’s place — but when things start to get heated, he doesn’t feel it at all. In fact, she starts talking about how much she likes to caress (which I have always found to be a creepy word) his hair, and the girl Ted wants to do becomes downright undoable.

    So he takes it back to the group at MacLaren’s, and they all agree he should break up with Naomi — with an addendum from Barney that he sleep with her as well. Just as Ted resolves to end things, she greets him in her Slutty Pumpkin outfit and gives him another hanging chad costume to wear. And, in classic Shmosby fashion, rather than tell Naomi the truth, Ted tells her he loves her.

    It’s the sort of story that would have been perfect to tell his children: meet a girl, she gets away, spend years hoping she’ll pop up again and, when he least expects it, fate brings them together again. The hopeless romantic in Ted doesn’t want to give up. But eventually he has to admit that you can’t fake it when the connection isn’t there — even if you’ve held out for a decade. When they make it to the party, and Ted is about to be honest about his nonexistent feelings, Naomi beats him to it — she was equally uncomfortable with their “relationship.” Ultimately, Ted is once again left alone on Halloween, but at the very least, the Slutty Pumpkin is no longer the one that got away.


    Debating the truth of Pregnancy Brain:
    Lily: Just because my body is growing a fungus-
    Marshall: Fetus.
    Lily: -doesn’t mean that my metal factories-
    Marshall: Mental faculties.
    Lily: -are in any way fenicular!
    Marshall: … No idea.

    Ted’s 15-year-old also makes an appearance and to convince Ted that, despite not feeling intimate with Naomi, he should always boink when the opportunity presents itself:
    “Intimate? Let me remind you of some things you did feel intimate with when you were 15: a catcher’s mitt; an oven mitt; a glass of warm water; a half-open hide-a-bed sofa; a top-loading VCR."


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