• Gina Denny

Episode 1.19 - Mary the Paralegal

Updated: Jun 17

First scene in this episode is Ted talking about how much he loves Victoria, then it smash-cuts to Marshall talking about how much he’s gonna miss Victoria. Barney gives us a GOOD bit of exposition; it’s in character and it gives us the backstory without feeling like exposition. If you missed the last couple episodes, you’re all caught up, but if you saw them, this feels like a very Barney-like way of messing with Ted.

Robin has been nominated for a Local Area Media Award and has invited the whole gang to come. Ted RSVPd for two, but has since broken up with Victoria, so Barney suggests that Ted hire an escort to fill the seat.

Barney claims that prostitution is the oldest profession in the world because cro magnon man probably threw the hotties a few extra fish for coming back to the cave, and Marshall points out that, by definition, the fishing happened before the sex, so fisherman is the oldest profession; Boom. Lawyered. Then Barney gets lawyered again ten seconds later.

Barney says he knows a girl, Ted believes she’s a hooker, and Barney storms off. “I SAID GOOD DAY!”

(this opening sequence is pretty fantastic, start to finish, which is why I've included so much detail about it)

Robin and Lily are getting ready and Lily is falling asleep because the school board took away kindergarten nap time. Robin has a date for the awards ceremony. Lily tells Marshall, Marshall tells Ted, and Ted decides to pretend it’s okay, but then Barney shows up with a very sexy woman in a very revealing dress and introduces her as “Mary”. He also makes a transphobic joke that is pretty disappointing.

Robin shows up with Sandy Rivers, the douchebag from last episode who hit on her. They show us some backstory about him being boring and creepy while Marshall and Ted laugh at him. And Ted and Marshall have a telepathic conversation (this is a bit that comes back around). Marshall acts super weird about Mary and Sandy Rivers is a douche.

Next up is the awards ceremony. It’s all background for the friend group, though, so we can ignore most of it. Without giving a total play-by-play, we can summarize most of this section with a few bullet points:

  • They make a lot of double-entendres, hinting at prostitution

  • Marshall is super awkward and almost reveals Mary’s “secret” several times

  • Sandy Rivers is super douchey and unaware of everything

  • Mary is smart and charming and Barney’s plan definitely works; Robin is super jealous by the end of the evening

(Lily sassing off at Sandy Rivers is extra funny because that’s her real husband that she’s being sassy at.)

But here’s the thing that really happens during the evening, and what we want to focus on:

Ted thinks he has a sure thing. He’s ultra confident because he Can. Not. Fail. He flirts with Mary, he’s not awkward, he’s confident and smart and funny, and it works. He charms her. She suggests they get a room upstairs at the hotel the awards ceremony is in. Marshall lawyers Barney again and then tells Ted not to have sex with a hooker (and that he’s been putting small objects in Sandy’s hair all night).

Robin wins her award, uses her speech to diss Ted, and then leaves with Sandy. Ted takes it all personally and goes upstairs with Mary. As Ted and Mary go upstairs, there is another double entendre, but Robin comes back in without Sandy.

Then the big reveal: Mary is not a prostitute. “If you don’t laugh, it just seems mean”

More double entendres from Ted and Mary, then Ted reveals that he won’t have sex with a hooker, and Mary is understandably offended. The scene bleeds into Barney laughing at him the next day and Barney claims he wanted to prove a point, but he’s clearly making this up as he goes along.

But the point is: Ted thought he had a sure thing. He behaved in a way he never would have with any other woman. And… it worked. In true Barney Stinson fashion, it was both cruel and crude. But it worked.

So that’s what we want you to take away from this episode.

What's the thing you would reach for if you knew it was a sure thing?

What are you not pursuing?

What are you not doing for yourself, because you’re too scared to try?

Writing Prompt: Make a list of your writing goals. Not the dreams, the things that you have zero control over. The goals. The things that you could control. Write them all down. When you get to the biggest goal on your list, that you have control over, imagine what the next step is. Make a goal for that. Keep going until there absolutely is no room for you to get any bigger or longer term. Now, write down what you need to do to reach those goals. The tangible, actionable steps you need to take in order to move forward.

Listen to the episode here

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