Over the last seven seasons, one of the biggest mysteries of “How I Met Your Mother” — besides who the mother is, of course — was the identity of the Slutty Pumpkin, whom Ted met at a Halloween party in season one (in a flashback to 2001, no less), and whose number he lost. Last night we got our answer: her name is Naomi, and she looks an awful like Katie Holmes. And, after seven years, there’s one question “HIMYM” fans are left with: Is that all there is?
Truth be told, waiting seven years to find out that Naomi is just another in the never-ending parade of Ted Mosby’s (Josh Radnor) strange one-episode “relationships” was a disappointment. If Carter Bays and Craig Thomas were going to do something as monumental to the show’s history as reveal the identity of the Slutty Pumpkin, they would at least have had the foresight to make her into a multi-episode love interest.
But in a season where it looks like Ted is revisiting his past in order to set himself up to meet the woman who will be part of his future, Naomi is just another letdown, albeit one that’s a decade in the making for him. Everything about dating Naomi is “off” to Ted; her love of the Barenaked Ladies’ “One Week,” the cuddling that crushes his windpipe, the uncomfortable kissing. As Ted finds out, Naomi felt it, too. But, after that decade of looking, both were so invested in making it work, they decided to ignore the signs. This could have been a plot out of any previous season, yet it played out as if it was a big event in the history of the show.
Holmes was just fine, by the way, as Naomi; she wasn’t asked to be hilarious, and she played the clueless parts of the role well. And the stunt casting of having Mrs. Tom Cruise on your show must have been tempting for Bays and Thomas. But she didn’t need to play the Slutty Pumpkin, and to pair a one-time guest shot with something that’s part of the show’s canon is a bit of a disheartening move.
Thankfully, the rest of the episode, where Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) struggles with the revelation that he’s a quarter Canadian, and Lilly (Alyson Hannigan) convincing Marshall (Jason Segel) to move to the suburbs via her muddled pregnancy brain, was much funnier. And we may have gotten a hint of a clue about the mother on the rooftop, when Barney pointed to a girl with what seemed to be a sexier version of Ted’s old “hanging chad” costume. But, then again, talking about “HIMYM” conspiracy theories has become an exercise in futility, and episodes like this one don’t encourage fans to keep up the chase.
Watch “The Slutty Pumpkin Returns”: