|Directed by:||Pamela Fryman|
|Written by:||Tami Sagher|
|Release date:||February 14, 2011|
Desperation Day is the first Valentine's Day episode of How I Met Your Mother.
Ted and Zoey have begun dating. Given that Zoey recently got divorced, Ted agrees to take things slowly. At MacLaren's Pub, his friends mock him for taking things so slow. Ted mentions that Zoey invited him to come over a bake cookies with her later that night. Robin tells him that "baking cookies" translates to "booty call", as girls will always make up a "respectable excuse" when making one.
With Marshall still in Minnesota, Lily has missed his company, and with Valentine's Day approaching they won't be able to stick to their tradition of watching Predator (Future Ted explains how in college, Marshall and Lily planned to watch 'Sleepless in Seattle' on Valentine's Day, but his brothers taped over it with Predator, so they watched it anyway).
Barney explains that his favorite day of the year is the day before Valentine's Day, February 13th, a day he has dubbed "Desperation Day", and explains how it dates back thousands of years and how the looming specter of Valentine's Day causes single women to lower their standards.
Robin points out that not all single women freak out about Valentine's Day, and has plans to spend the day this year with her single co-workers celebrating the fact that they don't have a boyfriend.
The next night at The Apartment, Lily announces that she's going to visit Marshall in Minnesota, so he doesn't have to be alone on Valentine's Day. Barney asks if she's going a little crazy being alone, and Lily admits that she's started dressing up her body pillow in Marshall's clothing, and actually had dinner with it, naming it "Marshpillow".
Ted walks in, and Robin asks how "baking cookies" with Zoey went last night. Ted explains that he brought an overnight bag with him to Zoey's apartment, and she kicked him out for being too presumptuous about how the night would end.
Some time later, on Desperation Day, Lily arrives at the Eriksen's home to surprise Marshall, but when she sees him she realizes he's reverted to a teenager, playing video games all day and ignoring his personal hygiene. Judy asks for Lily's help getting rid of Marshall by taking him back to New York. Lily tries to talk to Marshall, reminding him of Valentine's Day in New York watching Predator, and telling him his Mom is doing fine on her own, but nothing she says can convince him to leave. Finally, Lily just blurts out that Judy wants him to leave, but when Marshall asks Judy if it's true, she denies ever saying that.
Meanwhile, Zoey visits Ted at his apartment, and apologizes for over reacting; Seeing the overnight bag made Zoey realize how serious their relationship is, and didn't know if she was ready for such a commitment. However, she's come to the decision that she is ready, and the two decide to have dinner at Ted's tomorrow on Valentine's night. However, the seriousness of their relationship and the pressure associated with it freaks Ted out, so he decides to visit Marshall in Minnesota until Valentine's Day is over.
While the rest of the gang are spending Desperation Day in Minnesota, Robin and Barney are spending it at MacLaren's. Robin is spending time celebrating single life and protesting Valentine's Day with her co-workers, Bev and Anna, and Barney is scoping out all the available women. Later, Nora arrives, another co-worker of Robin's, and Barney is instantly attracted to her, passing up an opportunity with another girl in order to talk to her. She initially rejects his flirting, but the two end up spending the night talking about laser tag and tomorrow's laser tag tournament.
Upset that Ted is in Minnesota to escape New York and not there to help her bring Marshall back, Lily tells them she's going home, as a last ditch attempt to get Marshall to come back. Marshall says he can't, and Lily leaves alone. Marshall tells Ted that since his Dad's death, he feels lost, and asks Ted if Zoey's okay with him missing Valentine's Day. Ted reveals that his relationship with Zoey is complicated, and she doesn't know he's in Minnesota. Marshall tells him that running away from reality isn't going to solve anything, and in saying so realizes he's been doing the same thing. Finally, Marshall agrees that they need to drive back to New York.
When Valentine's Day arrives, Barney is at the laser tag tournament, and calls Robin (his partner) asking her where she is. She tells him "Happy Valentine's Day", and he turns to find Nora in laser tag gear, while Future Ted narrates that for the first time in his life, Barney found himself on a date on Valentine's Day.
Zoey arrives at The apartment with an overnight bag, and the two have dinner, celebrating Valentine's Day together. Marshall surprises Lily at their apartment, and the two spend Valentine's Day watching Predator.