Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween "Classic" Recap: HIMYM "Slutty Pumpkin"

“It was carved in strategic places.”

I know I’ve briefly covered this episode back in my “15 Most Legendary Episodes of HIMYM” series (which I wrote over a year ago- how crazy is that!), but “Slutty Pumpkin” is too good not to get the full recap treatment, especially on Halloween. I really feel like all the characters are at their best in this episode. Ted is being a dopey romantic, Marshall and Lily are being ridiculously couple-y, Robin’s being fiercely independent, and Barney’s being a silly womanizer. Okay, maybe those last two aren’t really the characters at their best, but they are well-rounded and show potential for growth (which sort of happens in fits and starts throughout the rest of the series). This is the only Halloween episode HIMYM has done, and I wish they would have done more. Something tells me that by 2010, Ted has gotten over waiting on the roof for the Slutty Pumpkin.

The episode opens in MacLaren’s, as they often do. Lily and Marshall’s Halloween costumes have arrived, and they are extremely excited about it. They go all-out for Halloween every year, always buying exprensive couples costumes. We learn via flashback that the year before, they were reverse-gender Sonny and Cher. Robin turns out to be not that into Halloween. She also reveals that she has a new boyfriend, Mike. Lily is pleased by this news, and she thinks they should double date for Halloween. Ted then joins the group, and when Robin asks what he’ll be doing for Halloween, the rest of the group groans as Ted begins to tell the story of the “Slutty Pumpkin.” I have to take a moment here to voice my appreciation for the fact that the HIMYM writers are pretty clearly Peanuts fans, with “Slutty Pumpkin” being a play on Linus’ devotion to the “Great Pumpkin” in the comic strip/animated specials. Anyway, much like Linus spends all night in the pumpkin patch while his friends all go have fun Trick-or-Treating, Ted spends every Halloween night at the lame apartment building rooftop Halloween party.

The reason Ted spends every Halloween at the party is because in 2001, he met a “Slutty Pumpkin” there, and the two hit it off. Ted was dressed as a “hanging chad,” which I found hilarious, and he uses the same costume year after year to help the Slutty Pumpkin recognize him if she ever returns. As 2001 Ted tells 2001 Marshall in flashback, he thinks the Slutty Pumpkin is the perfect girl for him. She’s a penguin researcher, she made up her own cocktail of Kaluha and root beer, she likes Star Wars, and she’s even pro-Ewok (which I am too…take that all shows that dis Ewoks…yeah, I’m talking to you “Lost”). Anyway, as Ted says and his friends mimic (because they know the story so well), “something went horribly wrong.” The Slutty Pumpkin wrote her number on a Kit Kat bar, and Lily accidentally gave the Kit Kat to a Trick-or-Treater who stopped by the apartment. Ted ran after the nearest Trick-or-Treater and dumped the poor kid’s candy out, but the Kit Kat wasn't there. Ever since, Ted has gone to the lame rooftop party, hoping he’ll find her again.

We then fast forward to the group getting ready for Halloween 2005. Marshall and Lily are Captain Jack Sparrow (who is only referred to as a “gay pirate” in this episode, I guess because WB couldn’t afford to pay Disney for the rights to the actual name) and a parrot. The costumes are really quite impressive, and Lily and Marshall are convinced they’ll win the MacLaren’s costume contest. They’ve put way more money into the costume than they could win from the competition, but they don’t really care. Ted, of course, is the hanging chad. There’s a brief riff on how sad it is that 2005 Halloween party guests probably won’t have any clue what Ted is supposed to be, and I have to agree that’s sad. I am a politics geek, after all. Barney then makes a dramatic entrance as one of the fighter pilots from Top Gun, complete with music. I think, as this was an early episode, the writers were hoping Barney would be the wacky character with the signature entrance, a la Kramer on Seinfeld. Thankfully, they eventually decided to take him in a less cartoon-y direction (then made him more cartoony again, which is a rant you’ve heard me go on many times). Barney has tickets to a Victoria’s Secret Halloween party on a yacht, but Ted still wants to go to the rooftop party on the off chance the Slutty Pumpkin will appear.

After Barney and Ted leave, Robin arrives for the double date. Lily is surprised Robin isn’t in costume, but Robin assures Lily that she and Mike discussed it and decided not to do costumes. Now they joked about costumes, mind you, but they weren’t serious. Of course, Mike promptly shows up in a rather ridiculous “Hansel” costume. He thought Robin was serious when she e-mailed him about being Hansel and Gretel. Obviously, she wasn’t. Things go from bad to worse when the two couples begin their meal at MacLaren’s. Mike sees Marshall and Lily being super cutesy and couple-y sharing their food and such, and he wants to try and be the same with Robin. She’s really not feeling it, though, and you can see Mike get more and more disappointed with every attempt. Lily and Robin have a bathroom conference, and Lily tells Robin that she’s going to lose Mike if she doesn’t try to enjoy the couple-y stuff. She tries to assure Robin that even though all those couple-y things look lame from the outside, they’re pretty great from the inside.

Heeding Lily’s advice, Robin decides she can share dessert with Mike- a brownie sundae. Even this doesn’t go well, though. Robin remarks that the sundae looks pretty small, and she watches every bite Mike takes. The straw that breaks the camel’s back comes when Robin distracts Mike, then starts downing the sundae as quickly as she can. Mike ends up breaking up with Robin at the end of the evening, because he doesn’t think she can adapt her lifestyle to fit another person. Robin tries to play it off like she doesn’t care about the break-up. Then Marshall and Lily win the costume contest, and as Robin takes their picture and sees how very happy they are, she starts wishing for what they have.

Not surprisingly, Ted’s rooftop party is rather lame. The entertainment is an a cappella group of Yale alumni. After trying to score the number of a hot chick dressed as a Hula dancer and failing miserably, Barney decides to bail on the party. He’s going to be the “Barnacle” and stick to the Victoria’s Secret yacht. Barney shows up at the rooftop again, though, this time dressed as a Devil. He strikes out with the Hula dancer yet again and decides to bail on the party yet again. Ted, however, is still determined to stick it out for the night. Ted thinks he has made the right choice when someone dressed as a penguin enters the party and mixes Kaluha and root beer. It’s just Barney, of course, messing with Ted yet again. Barney finally gets Hula girl’s number, although when she realizes who he is, she tries to take it back.

At the end of the evening, Ted is still sitting on the roof as the rest of the party guests leave. Robin finds him there. She’s upset over the break-up with Mike, and she wants to know if not liking couple-y stuff means she’s wired wrong. I know the feeling, being quite set in my independent ways myself. Ted assures Robin that the right guy will appreciate her independence. Robin expresses her admiration for Ted’s dedication to the idea of the Slutty Pumpkin. The two spend the rest of the night on the roof together, waiting for their dream partners to arrive.

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