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'How I Met Your Mother' recap: Happy Desperation Day

February 14, 2011 | 10:52 pm


This week's Valentine's Day episode found the show's couples in less than blissful states, but -- spoiler alert! -- it all worked out.

Ted (Jason Segel) and Zoey (Jennifer Morrison): So baking cookies = booty call, apparently. At least that's what the gang thought when Ted told them Zoey had invited him over for a quiet evening at her place to bake cookies. He packed an overnight bag, which freaked Zoey out. And then Ted took a page out of Robin's (Cobie Smulders) book and freaked out when she told him she was “ready for the long haul.” It was all getting a little too serious very quickly, so Ted ran off to Minnesota to “help” Marshall (Jason Segel).

Lily (Alyson Hannigan) and Marshall: With her other half still in Minnesota, Lily was anthropomorphizing a body pillow to fill the loneliness. Cute touch taking the nickname Marshmellow and twisting into Marshpillow. Lily decided to surprise Marshall for Valentine's Day and fly to Minnesota, but it was she who got the surprise. Marshall wasn't so much helping his mom as he was regressing to kid. It's kind of amazing how a guy as big as Jason Segel manages to embody the spirit of a young boy, yelling for chocolate milk and playing Super Mario Kart for 14 hours a day. It wasn't until he told Ted that he had to go back to New York and face reality with Zoey that he realized he was hiding out from his own life.

Without his dad, “I can't see where I'm going. I can't see anything,” he said. So he yelled for his mom to make some crustless PB&J sandwiches for the road before manning up and asking for crusts. He made it back to New York to surprise Lily and continue their Valentine's Day tradition of watching “Predator.” The question now is, will Marshall and Lily get back on the baby train so soon after his father's death? I think it could go either way. He could be too upset or he could want to continue the line of Eriksons. And will this be the event that makes Marshall reevaluate his life and change career paths?

Ted and Zoey Part 2: Marshall saved the couple again. Although his mom didn't really need his help anymore, he was able to help Ted come to his senses and go back to New York. This time, Zoey brought the overnight bag. And I'm still finding it hard to get invested in this relationship.

Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) and Robin: While not a couple, these two did spend most of Feb. 13, which Barney dubbed Desperation Day, together. Plus, they have a romantic history – “This is Barney, a high-functioning sociopath and my ex,” is how Robin introduces him to her coworkers – and work together well as friends, so I often think of them as a pair. Plus, let's face it – Nora is kind of Robin lite. They're both intelligent, strong women with dark hair who see through Barney, except Nora is not wise to the fun of laser tag. So while it was very sweet and cool of Robin to set Barney up on his first Valentine's Day, I was hoping for “Zip, Zip, Zip” the sequel after hearing that Robin was Barney's laser tag partner. But hopefully, Nora will bring out a side of Barney we haven't seen before and make him grow up a little and realize a relationship – with Robin, cough, cough – is for him. As fun as Barney the womanizer is, watching a character remain stagnant and not evolve is not something I'm interested in.

Other favorite moments:
– The brilliant cut from Marshall and Lily talking about “Predator” to Barney scoping out the bar in “Predator” clicking noise and heat vision mode.
– The Roman numeral expressions – “Perfect X,” “High V” -- in Barney's Desperation Day flashback to ancient Rome. I also loved Robin, looking absolutely gorgeous, as a “fifteen and still unmarried” woe-is-me bridesmaid.
– The reveal that Marshall saw “Sleepless in Seattle” in the theater five times. By himself.
– Anything regressive Marshall, Marshall and his dad, or Marshpillow related. Jason Segel, you so deserve these recent episodes.

Readers, what did you think of “HIMYM's” Valentine's Day offering? Are you glad Marshall and Lily are together again? Did you like Nora? Or would you rather Barney play laser tag with Robin?

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

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Photo: Jason Segel as Marshall. Credit: Cliff Lipson / CBS.