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'How I Met Your Mother': But, um's the way

January 19, 2010 |  6:40 am
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“How I Met Your Mother” likes to introduce its own lingo for relationships, friendship and life. There was the Lemon Law. The Crazy/Hot Scale. The Bro Code. And now we have the reacher and the settler, which almost sounds like the name of an indie movie like “The Squid and the Whale.”

The reacher and the settler comes into play after Marshall (Jason Segel) reveals that all the crazy stories he's been telling about his co-worker Jenkins are actually about a woman. Unfortunately, the sight gag of having a man perform the stories, which included downing a jar of maraschino cherries and going topless, and then a woman was kind of lessened by the news that Amanda Peet was guest starring in the episode. From the start, I figured, as I'm sure many of you did, that Jenkins was actually Peet.

Given the slightly scandalous nature of the stories, Marshall avoided pronouns and just let Lily (Alyson Hannigan) continue to assume that Jenkins was a he. After hearing how Marshall had bonded with Jenkins over the Vikings and some town that Marshall's dead grandpa haunts, Ted (Josh Radnor) was a little angry.

“If you tell me you have a thing for a woman that is not your wife, I will drag you outside and kick your ass,” he says. I will help you, Ted! Let's never go the adulterous route with Marshall and Lily. Not that I think they will.
Thankfully, Marshall just thinks of Jenkins as a big brother, but he still freaks out when Lily decides to surprise him at work. Peet hilariously pretends to be a French woman investigating a cheese problem, but Marshall, who's never been very good at keeping his cool, blurts out that she's Jenkins. Lily has no reaction. She's not jealous because, as Robin (Cobie Smulders) and Ted explain, she's a settler and Marshall's a reacher. She's out of his league and he could never do better than her, which is kind of an ouch thing to hear from your friends.

Marshall is denial about his reacher state and sets out to make Lily jealous, which works out a little too well when Jenkins plants one on him. Too bad Lily doesn't believe it happened. That is until Jenkins tells her about it. Slowly, Lily begins to hand over her phone, scarf and earrings to Barney before defending her man with a right hook.

In another case of denial, Robin thinks she's a celebrity with Ted's students when she gets recognized at a college bar. Ted seemed a little harsh, which seems to be a trend in this episode, when joking about how no one watches her show. But Ted's entire class does watch it. They just do it while playing a drinking game with one simple rule: Drink when Robin says, “But, um.” When Robin finds out about it, she decides to “but, um” them into a drunken stupor by repeating the words over and over. Ted's class the next day basically turns into nap time as everyone, Ted included, nurses their hangover.

Readers, do you agree that Marshall's a reacher and Lily's a settler? Did you enjoy Peet's guest spot? And what rules should be added to the Robin Scherbatsky drinking game?

– Vlada Gelman (follow my TV musings on Twitter at @stayingin)

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Photo: Jenkins (Amanda Peet) and Marshall (Jason Segel) talk. Credit: Eric McCandless/Fox
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