Original Airdate: November 22, 2010
Ted gets upset when the gang ends up hanging out with his enemy Zoey after he leaves the bar early. They party so hard they break Ted’s oven, so everyone ends up at Zoey’s for Thanksgiving, along with the group’s college friend Steve (Jorge Garcia), known as “the Blitz.” Ted and Zoey fight, but then they connect when Ted discovers that Zoey is alone on Thanksgiving because her stepdaughter refuses to spend time with her. Eventually everyone settles in for a nice Thanksgiving dinner together.
Title: “The Mermaid Theory”
Original Airdate: December 6, 2010
When Ted and Zoey hang out alone, she lies to her husband (who calls himself the Captain) about what she’s doing, and Ted is worried that their friendship is inappropriate. He decides to hang out with the Captain to make things less awkward, but without Zoey there it’s only creepy. Eventually he and the Captain form a tentative bond. Marshall and Robin never hang out alone, so they decide to have dinner together, but they have nothing to talk about. Marshall reveals that it’s because he’s worried that he’ll become attracted to Robin.
Title: “False Positive”
Original Airdate: December 13, 2010
Lily gets a positive result on a pregnancy test, but it turns out that she’s not actually pregnant. In the meantime: Robin turns down a job flipping coins on a game show to be a researcher for Worldwide News, but then takes the job after all; Barney decides to give money to charity but then keeps most of it for himself; and Marshall and Lily freak out about being unprepared for being parents and are relieved that they aren’t pregnant. Finally, Ted berates everyone into making their original, better choices.
Title: “Bad News”
Original Airdate: January 3, 2011
Robin starts her new job and discovers that she’s working for her old co-host Sandy Rivers, who teases her relentlessly about her past on-air blunders. She has a chance to get revenge, but instead takes the high road. Lily goes to see a specialist about her and Marshall’s difficulties getting pregnant, and the doctor gives Lily a clean bill of health, so Marshall worries that he’s responsible for the problem. He freaks out and won’t tell his parents, so they show up to visit unannounced. Just as Marshall finds out he’s also healthy, he learns that his father has died of a heart attack.
Title: “Last Words”
Original Airdate: January 17, 2011
The gang accompanies Marshall to Minnesota for his father’s funeral, where Marshall’s childhood bully, now a reverend, is performing the ceremony. Ted and Barney try to get Marshall to laugh, while Robin provides him with a variety of contraband. Marshall discovers a voicemail from his dad on his phone and is afraid to listen to it in case his dad’s last words to him are disappointing. It turns out to be an accidental call with just muffled noise, until finally his dad comes on with some words of love.
Title: “Oh Honey”
Original Airdate: February 7, 2011
While Marshall is in Minnesota spending time with his family, the various members of the gang all call him to recount the story of Ted and Zoey’s complicated relationship. When Ted realizes that he’s in love with Zoey, he decides he can’t spend time with her anymore because she’s married (and he doesn’t know that she’s getting divorced). Zoey tries to set Ted up with her naïve cousin (guest star Katy Perry), but is happy when they don’t get together, because Zoey is also in love with Ted. Marshall puts the pieces together on the phone and lets the two of them know just in time.
Title: “Desperation Day”
Original Airdate: February 14, 2011
Barney declares that February 13 is Desperation Day, the day when lonely women are most vulnerable to men’s advances. He preys on a number of women at the bar, but actually ends up forming a connection with Robin’s co-worker Nora. Lily goes to Minnesota to convince Marshall to come home, but he’s scared to face reality without his dad. Ted’s relationship with Zoey gets serious very quickly, and he freaks out about it and runs away to Minnesota also. Ted and Marshall realize they have to man up and deal with their problems, and they return to New York.
Title: “Garbage Island”
Original Airdate: February 21, 2011
Barney is reluctant to admit that he’s developing feelings for Robin’s co-worker Nora, but finally gives in and gets her phone number from Robin. Ted runs into Zoey’s ex-husband the Captain, who doesn’t realize that Ted is dating Zoey. The Captain pours his feelings out to Ted, who feels guilty for stealing Zoey. After seeing a documentary on TV, Marshall becomes obsessed with saving the environment, as a way for avoiding his grief about his dad. He tells Lily that he’s afraid to start a family while he’s stuck in his soul-killing job.
Title: “A Change of Heart”
Original Airdate: February 28, 2011
After the death of Marshall’s father, everyone goes to get a heart check-up. Robin starts dating a guy named Scooby who behaves just like a dog. Barney insists that he’s falling for Nora, but no one in the group believes him. He admits to Nora that he doesn’t want to settle down, but he realizes that maybe he does want that with her, even though he can’t admit it.
Original Airdate: March 21, 2011
When Barney’s dad Jerry (John Lithgow) shows up for the first time in 30 years, Barney is disappointed that he’s not the cool guy Barney always imagined him to be. The gang convinces Barney to give his dad another chance and have dinner with Jerry, his wife and his 11-year-old son. Barney freaks out that his half-brother gets a childhood with a real dad when Barney never did, and he leaves the dinner feeling that he isn’t ready yet to have a relationship with Jerry.