Before its month off, Marry Me took us on a stretch of episodes with high stakes, from the possible destruction of a friendship (“Stand By Me”) to daughter and father fighting over the life of the party (“Win Me”). With “Test Me,” we get the lowest stakes possible, with a rare Jake storyline that just doesn’t have any weight behind it.
“Test Me” shows Jake getting cold feet about testing his sperm to see if it will be difficult for him and Annie to have kids someday. Both Jake and Annie highlight the unimportance of this test since they’re only starting to think about talking about being prepared for the time in their future when they may want to consider having kids. Even if they can have kids, it seems to be quite a ways down the road.
This fear comes when Jake, Annie and the rest go to one of many baby showers for their friend Libby and her fertility doctor husband that they can’t remember the name of. Doctor Whats-His-Name drunkenly comments on the problems that could potentially arise with Jake’s sperm, freaking him out into lying his way out of the test. It’s such a non-issue, even Gil thinks it’s dumb that Jake won’t go through with the test.
It’s great to see Jake get some on-screen focus, since most of his recent stories have centered on calming down Annie, but in “Test Me” that story is so lightweight, there’s nothing really at stake for Jake or Annie. And even though the focus is on Jake, Annie gets the stronger story, where she and Kay have to infiltrate the home of Libby and Doctor Whats-His-Name to retrieve a nanny cam bear that caught them badmouthing the child, the family and hiding vomit. It’s far more fun than Jake’s A-story because there’s actually something at risk here, even if it’s “just” losing two friends they don’t much care for anyway.
Most of the great Jake moments come from the confusion over the doctor’s name. The highlight of “Test Me” is when Jake eventually gives in and goes to the fertility doctor, then discovers that he’s not sure which doctor is his, considering how many doctors in the complex share the same last name. This leads to a great moment where Jake tries to get his sample in the bathroom of a pediatrician’s office, and a doctor dressed like a clown walks in on him trying to achieve his “withdrawal.” Ken Marino’s “Why is there a clown in here??” reaction is pretty incredible. But the real payoff of the Doctor Whats-His-Name arc is discovering that his first name is also Jake. It’s so unexpectedly great.
Sitting out most of the episode is Gil, who is stuck with the barely-there C-story of Dennah trying to get something on her neck checked out. The doctor tells Dennah, it’s just a bit of dirt. Plot complete. As Jake puts it, “It’s a big deal over a little bit of schmutz,” which sort of describes “Test Me” altogether: a whole lot of fuss over a bunch of nothing.
Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.