Lily wants Marshall to come back to New York for Valentine's, Ted and Zoey make plans and Barney specifically strives to not make plans.
Recap after the jump.
Marshall is still in Minnesota after his father's death and Lily is missing him, taking to dressing up a body pillow (Marshpillow) as him. She flies out there to coax him back in time for Valentine's Day so they can keep up their tradition of watching Predator. He claims that he needs to stay for his mother's sake, but in fact his mother really wants him to go... seems like he has regressed into a childlike state. Ted and Zoey's relationship has progressed oddly. Despite trying to keep it slow, they have fallen into something very serious very quickly without even realizing. It's understandable - she is just coming out of a marriage while he is just naturally inclined that way. Zoey invites him to "bake cookies" one evening and unsure of what it all means, he takes an overnight bag. She's a little startled by this presumption and sends him home.
Talking it over, they decide to have a good time together on Valentine's Day; she'll come over to his place and they'll "cook dinner" together. He gets scared at the prospect though and hops on a plane to Minnesota to join Lily and Marshall. Back in New York, Barney has coined a new name for February 13th - Desperation Day. His theory is that desperate to find someone to spend Valentine's with, girls will throw themselves at him in, well, desperation. A cynical Robin disputes this and plans to gather with some other single friends from work in protest at the manufactured holiday. Along with two more homely employees, she's joined by Nora (guest star Nazanin Boniadi) a hot British-Iranian twentysomething who Barney tries to hit on. He falls flat on his face at first but after delivering a passionate lecture on the merits of Laser tag, she's kinda won over. He plans to participate in a tournament the next day with Robin.
Back in Minnesota, Ted is playing SNES games with Marshall and Lily is pretty fed up, nothing she seems to do or say makes any difference. She leaves to go back to New York after telling Marshall that she really needs him. Marshall admits to Ted that he misses his dad - likely feeling that once he leaves, his dad will *truly* be gone forever. He then tells Ted that he needs to stop running away from Zoey and go back home if it really means anything. They drive back together, returning to reality. At the bar, Robin's homely co-workers have ditched her, their desperation getting the better of them. Barney's rule for Desperation Day was to never be with a woman at 11:59 pm otherwise you would officially be on a date on Valentine's Day - his worst nightmare. However, he has unwittingly been talking to Nora the whole night. Figuring out he likes her, Robin sets them up to play Laser Tag the next day. Much like the Canadian judge, I'm not sure how I feel about that. He's probably just seduced by her 'sexy' accent.
Marshall makes it back to watch Predator with Lily and Ted also makes it back just in time to "cook dinner" with Zoey. The only one left alone is Robin, it's at a time like this she could really use having those five dogs back. This episode was fairly predictable but still enjoyable. Marshall's recollections of his father, both in memory and imagination were touching and probably the only character that sort of thing would have worked with which is why he's my favorite character on the show. I'd be perfectly happy if they don't come up with any more of these Barney's theories conceits or at least limit themselves to one blockbuster per season. Desperation Day worked but the Mermaid Theory was just painful. Six years in, it kinda feels like we should be done with this stuff and moving onto different paths for the show.
"How I Met Your Mother" airs Mondays on CBS at 8:00 pm EST.