There was a lot of build-up to last night’s episode of How I Met Your Mother—not with promos dedicated to a fake-out revelation of who the mother is actually going to be, but instead the writers decided to take us back to the first season’s Halloween episode where Ted longingly awaits a girl who dressed as a slutty pumpkin way back in 2001. It’s been 10 years since the incident and six seasons have passed with a few mentions of the girl here or there, but once the news broke that Katie Holmes was going to guest star as Slutty Pumpkin, fan blogs blew up in excitement.
Like most of the episodes this season, “The Slutty Pumpkin Returns” was chock-full of references to past episodes. It’s almost as if they’re relying on it to keep viewers emotionally connected. I’ve praised the tactic in the past and am still a fan of it, but there was something off about this episode. It didn’t hold my interest as well as past episodes. I even told the person I was watching it with that it was a terrible Halloween episode. Not a terrible episode, but just a waste of the Halloween shtick I expected.
We start with Ted walking down a street he probably walked down a million times before, but he magically sees a costume shop with the slutty pumpkin outfit hanging in the window for the first time in 10 years. A little too easy, but let’s accept it. Introduce Holmes as Naomi, but let’s just call her Slutty Pumpkin; it’s more fun that way. It turns out she felt that amazing connection a decade prior and was looking for Ted as well. However, she never bothered to return to Ted’s building, where the party was, during her search.
The best part about Ted’s uninspiring plot was how awkward things were with Slutty Pumpkin. Sitcoms often try to delve into uncomfortable date territory, but it always comes off even more discomforting than it should. HIMYM pokes fun at that, and all seems in place.
Meanwhile, fans should be pleased with the show coining another term we can use in real life. This time Marshall discovers Lily has “pregnancy brain.” This is a condition that we’ve all noticed, but never had a medical term for. PB is when a pregnant woman displays impulsive decision-making. When the Eriksens receive a house from Lily’s grandparents she, despite hating the suburbs, agrees to move in. It’s cute to see the expecting parents battle about their future, especially when Lily uses trick-or-treaters as a catalyst to seduce him.
The final plot comes out of nowhere. Robin drops a bombshell of information on the group: Barney’s biological father (Jerry, played by John Lithgow) is friends with Robin on Facebook and “LOL”d at a Canadian joke. Why? Because Jerry’s mother is Canadian, which makes Barney part Canadian. GASP!
A series of flashbacks show Barney making fun of Robin’s homeland, and in return Robin uses all of the insults to taunt Barney. She even gives him a Mountie uniform to wear as his costume. Their clash of wits was clever and really made this a more enjoyable episode.
Usually Halloween episodes don’t propel the overall story arc and put important plot points on hold for a week, and this episode was no different, which is a little disappointing because previous holiday HIMYM episodes fit in seamlessly. The next few episodes should bring us back on track as we enter the holiday season.