Marshall's still in Minnesota, where his mom needs him, and Lily's getting desperate. She's taken to dressing a body pillow and talking to it like it's him. (It might talk back, but she'll never admit it in front of all of us and Saget!Ted, too.) Eventually, she misses Marshall too much and heads to Minnesota, where Marshall's mom begs her to take him away. What she soon realizes is that it's not Marshall's mom who needs him, but the other way around. He's fooling himself into thinking his mom needs to be needed so he's having her wait on him hand and foot.
Ted, meanwhile, is learning the ropes of his new relationship with Zoey, which basically means thinking "baking cookies" means sex and then totally screwing it up by being presumptuous and bringing over an overnight bag. She sends him away. But it's Valentine's Day, so she comes back around and apologizes, admitting she did mean sex. She totally wants to have a Valentine's Day they'll never forget. Which sends him running off to be with Marshall and Lily in Minnesota, duh. Eventually, Lily leaves them both there to be pathetic fools together, which they do quite well with their videogames and Y chromosomes. Until they realize just how pathetic they're being and head back to New York, where Ted and Zoey finally have their Valentine's night date (she brings her overnight bag this time), and Marshall gets rid of Lily's crazy body pillows (but only after also getting rid of his father's ghost; sad!).
Barney's all about hooking up with a girl the day before Valentine's Day, when she's so desperate she'll do anything. His only rule? Get rid of her by midnight. He tries this while Robin's out with her other single-lady friends from work, but Robin's totally onto him when he keeps this hot girl, Nora, out past midnight. The next day, when Robin's scheduled to play laser tag with Barney versus a bunch of Boy Scouts, she sends Nora instead. Which means Barney's on his first-ever Valentine's Day date. If you thought it would be Barney and Robin by the end of the episode, you weren't alone; that's where I thought this was going, too.
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Saget!Ted tells his kids that his first kiss with Zoey was amazing (ew!) and complicated. They finish their hallway kiss from last week, and he goes on and on about how complicated her divorce and everything else makes this. She basically tells him he's a mood-killer, so he says he just wants to do it right. Saget!Ted lies to his kids that his friends were supportive. Quick cut to MacLaren's, where Barney loudly scolds, "You're doing this all wrong, Ted!" And Lily thinks they're moving too slowly, too. Ted says he's trying, but she keeps putting on the brakes when he suggests a big, romantic date. Tonight, for instance, she wants him to come over and bake cookies. The gang (minus Marshall) fills Ted in that "bake cookies" means "bootie call." Duh.
Robin fills Ted in on the difference between guys and girls: Guys bootie call after 2 a.m. with a drunkenly slurred, "What ya doin'?" But a lady invents a respectable excuse. "It's called class, Ted." Lily tells Ted how it will work, but it's all about Marshall, because he's still stuck in Minnesota taking care of his mother. And now it's Valentine's Day, and Lily says it won't be the same without them watching Predator. Saget!Ted thinks his kids will care about this, and explains how in college Marshall and Lily were supposed to watch Sleepless in Seattle, but Marshall's brothers had taped over it with Predator. Back at MacLaren's, Barney takes Lily's loneliness as an opportunity to tell the gang about his favorite day, February 13, Desperation Day! Robin: "That's not a thing." Barney: "That's a thing." He says it dates back thousands of years, to St. Valentine (Ted in a Caesar suit) and his best friend, St. Desperatius (Barney, who hits on a 15-year-old Robin). Back at MacLaren's, Barney says that neediness reaches its climax ("What up?!") on Feb. 13, a magical night "when a 10 has the self-esteem of a 4, and the depraved enthusiasm of a 2." The only thing you can't do is stay with her past 11:59 p.m., because otherwise? You'd be on a Valentine's Day date. Robin tells Barney that she's a single woman who doesn't care at all about Valentine's Day, so Barney can stick it. He thinks she's lying, and the friends she'll be with are trolls. "Ba ba ba" opening.
Later, at Ted and Robin's, Lily says she's decided to go to Minnesota to be with Marshall for Valentine's Day, because he shouldn't have to be alone taking care of his mom without her. Barney wonders if she's losing her mind in her apartment, and she admits she's getting weird. Cut to her snuggling with a body pillow wearing a Vikings jersey. She says first she just put his jersey on a pillow, then things spiraled. She's serving the pillow, dressed in a suit, dinner, and apologizes for yelling before. She tells the gang she calls him "Marshpillow" and he calls her "well, nothing, beause he's a pillow." But I am curious what she was going to say. Ted comes in next, and the gang wonders how "baking cookies" went. Saget!Ted tells his kids (he's telling his kids about a euphemism with possibly their mother or some random former girlfriend; again: ew!) this was a tough question for him. Side-swipe to him showing up at Zoey's... with an overnight bag. The gang is disappointed, because you don't bring a carry-on for sex. Ted says that Zoey told him he was being presumptuous and made him leave. He says he didn't bring that much; not even real slippers -- just his British morning socks.