Who knew that a hangover cure could be an expression of love? Apparently Barney knew, all along…
After the bender he went on the night before his wedding, Barney is mumbling, incoherent, and teetering on the edge of consciousness two hours before he is due to take his wedding photos with Robin. Even his known super power – never taking a bad photo – has failed him. Ted, Marshall, Lily, and Robin are left trying to figure out what to do. They each in turn vow to never get “that drunk” again. In typical HIMYM fashion, each vow is followed with a glimpse into the future wherein they inevitably do get “that drunk.” The amusing fallout that ensues gives us an endearing look into the direction their lives have taken by that point in time (bald Marshall in the political arena, Lily sending their son away to college).
In yet another collection of flashbacks that were never before alluded to, Barney is shown as having provided the perfect hangover cure to each of them in the past. Barney claims that a distant relative of his had developed the cure under Franklin Roosevelt as the “Double Manhattan Project.” It contains any number of bizarre ingredients and one very secret one that Barney swears will follow him to the grave. Despite the inanity of the story, the elixir works each time. The gang figures that the best thing they can do is to gather the ingredients they know about and try to get Barney awake enough to reveal the secret one.
A tumble down the stairs and a few dunks in ice water later, Lily and Robin are not having much success in waking Barney. Meanwhile, in collecting ingredients, Ted discovers that his mother may have lied when she told him he was allergic to things like bacon, donuts, and not saying thank you. But someone needs to eat a full pan of bacon so the chef can make more and give them the grease (bear with me here, this episode got a little scattered). Marshall has decided that kind of heavy duty eating is below his dignity as a judge. Ted tells Marshall he’s not even sure he will like bacon. That statement is apparently ridiculous enough to cause Marshall and the restaurant’s chef to break the fourth wall. Ted proceeds to eat his weight in bacon and then very shortly after regret that decision.
Lily and Robin are at their wit’s end and decide to try one last ploy. Let’s just say, Lily is blushing like a school girl and a LOT of fanfiction probably just got a little bit more canon. It has the desired effect and Barney comes to just enough to tell them the real secret ingredient in his hangover cure: nothing. The secret is that there is no secret. He just loves them and wanted them to feel better. It is revealed that each time the cure was used, the recipient had been drinking over something that upset them. The real cure was in the affection with which Barney served the elixir, the assurance that everything would be alright. The drink itself was only ever a placebo.
In the end, they have to cancel the photoshoot because Barney is a slobbering mess. However, to keep his spirits up, they tell him that they acted out Weekend at Bernie’s with his body tied to a series of pulleys or propped up by other’s in the pictures. It’s a lifelong dream of his, so he is ecstatic.
There are also two flash forwards of Ted and the Mother. The one in the beginning shows them in a car on the way to a New Year’s party that will also be celebrating a book she just published. She and Ted enjoy champagne and she warns him not to drink too much. At the end of the episode, this comes full circle when it is revealed that the Mother must have been more nervous about her book publicity than she let on. She wakes up the next morning viciously hung over and Ted is right there with a patented Stinson cure.
Personally, this felt even more like a filler episode than some of the others. Literally nothing that happened felt so much like plot as it did little added bits of unnecessary exposition. The storyline felt thready and mostly like an excuse for Robin and Lily to finally kiss (not that I’m complaining about that part). The underlying message of Barney having always loved and cared about each of them is being stretched a little thin at this point. We are very aware of this bad boy’s heart of gold. Although, I did enjoy the glimpses of Marshall and Lily as middle aged parents still living it up in their own way.