Monday, March 8, 2010

HIMYM 5.16: "Hooked"

“Kids, in many of my stories, I’m a starry-eyed romantic on a noble search for true love. In this one, I’m just a jerk.”


“Hooked” was an enjoyable enough episode of HIMYM. I don’t think it will ever be considered one of my favorites, but there was nothing that especially irked me, and there were a few good laughs. I’ll take that over the way Barney and Robin’s relationship was handled any day. The episode also added a few new terms to the HIMYM lexicon: “bait” and “on the hook.” We also got a lovely mini-documentary by Barney on hot girl professions throughout time. Which was probably the highlight of the episode, even if the style was way too similar to “The Playbook,” way too soon after that episode.

“Bait” is explained right from the get-go in the episode’s teaser. It’s something a person uses to lure potential romantic conquests into his/her apartment. Barney, of course, has tried many forms of bait, but most, like a slot machine (too distracting) and a trampoline (results in injuries) didn’t work out. He found the perfect bait in what he calls a “teacup pig.” Ted doesn’t buy it, but the rest of the gang is “awww”ing all over the place as soon as they hear about it. When Ted sees the reaction, he wants to borrow the teacup pig, and Barney agrees before Ted can even state his entire request.

The reason Ted wants the teacup pig is because he thinks it will help him score with a hot pharmacy rep played by Carrie Underwood that he’s been hanging out with lately. Carrie does indeed like the teacup pig, but it turns out she has a boyfriend. The gang is convinced that Ted is “on the hook” with Carrie. She makes herself inaccessible, but leaves the door just slightly open for future possibility. It turns out that the rest of the gang has all been on someone’s hook or hooked someone…but, as Robin carefully points out “no money changed hands.” We got a scene of teenaged Marshall being on the hook of a classmate who just wanted to use him to do her homework (sidebar: hasn’t there been an awful lot of young Marshall this season?). Robin’s been using some guy named Mike (he works on her show, I think) to do her laundry.

My favorite “on the hook” story of the episode was that Lily is still keeping Scooter, her high school boyfriend, on the hook. Scooter is played by David Burtka, Neil Patrick Harris’ real life significant other, and he’s pretty adorable. Scooter has become a “lunch lady” at the school where Lily teaches (so he can be closer to Lily), which is pretty hilarious considering that in real life, Burtka is a chef with his own gourmet catering company. Every time Lily tries to tell Scooter that she’s not interested in him, he gives her the “sad eyes,” and she quickly adds “right now.”

Despite his protests, Ted is confronted by the rest of the gang that he’s been keeping someone on the hook as well. Her name is Henrietta, and she works at the university library. Narrator!Ted is especially ornery in this episode, especially during Ted’s scenes with Henrietta, correcting every line of dialogue Ted says. It’s pretty darn hilarious. I don’t think Narrator!Ted has ever been quite that irritated with his younger self before, and Bob Saget seems to have quite a bit of fun with it. Ted is pretty deserving of Narrator!Ted’s disdain in this case. To prove to his friends that Henrietta isn’t “on the hook,” he makes a big show of making plans to hang out at her apartment as friends. Henrietta doesn’t exactly comprehend the “as friends” part of the equation, though. She makes a fancy meal and invites her parents. Right after he walks in the door, he gets a call from Carrie and hightails it out of there. Henrietta’s parents don’t even believe Ted exists.

Barney changes his tune from telling Ted to get off the hook to being quite impressed when he finds out that Carrie is a pharmaceutical rep. He’s especially happy when she brings a whole hot pharma girl entourage with her to MacLaren’s. Barney informs Ted that in the grand tradition of gatherers, nurses, and flight attendants, pharma girls are an exclusively hot chick profession at the moment. This is all illustrated by a silly fantasy sequence where Carrie is all these professions, and Barney says dirty things to her, then winks at the camera. It’s very reminiscent of “The Playbook.” As much as I enjoy watching Neil Patrick Harris mug for the camera, this could be too much of a good thing.

Barney is dismayed when one of the pharma girls introduces him to a new colleague, a middle aged woman. He laments that pharma girls are not exclusively hot anymore. He goes on and on about this to Robin, who doesn’t especially want to hear it. I’m happy that the writers are finally having Robin have some sort of reaction to her break-up with Barney. Maybe they’re beginning to right the wrongs of the first half of the season. Barney cheers up thanks to some meds he found stuck between his couch cushions. He now has drug-induced hope that a new hot chick profession will come along soon.

The Carrie, Ted, and Henrietta saga reaches farcical proportions by the end of the episode. During a brief break-up with her boyfriend, Carrie invites Ted to be her date to an out-of-town wedding. Ted’s there, all dressed in his tux, when Carrie bursts into the room saying she should have called him. Her boyfriend is the best man, and they’re back together. He treats her pretty poorly, but she’s on his hook. Ted decides to gather up what little self-respect he’s got left and walks out. He realizes that it’s best to let people know for sure when you aren’t interested in them, so he heads right for Henrietta’s apartment. Unfortunately for Ted, being in the same room with the best man somehow resulted in a ring being in his tux. And the ring falls to the floor as Henrietta opens the door.

Ted has quite a hard time clearing things up with Henrietta. Even after he forcefully says he doesn’t want to be with her, Henrietta still wants to confirm they’re getting married. Lily runs into similar trouble with Scooter. Marshall has had her practice overcoming the “sad eyes” using the teacup pig as a Scooter stand-in, and Lily is ready to go as she and Marshall enter the school cafeteria. Lily does well and forcefully tells Scooter that she’s not interested. Marshall is the one who caves on the sad eyes, telling Scooter not to give up hope- Marshall’s not going to live forever. After a chat with Ted, Robin decides she’s going to let Mike off the hook- once he’s done with her laundry.

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