It's Weekend at Barney's three, y'all! Tonight's episode of How I Met Your Mother picked up from the break with a much more lighthearted episode than the one where Ted finally let go of Robin and she literally floated away from him. Now the group is left with trying to wake up the extremely hungover Barney in time for the wedding photos, lest he face Robin's dad's wrath.
After initially ruling out a Weekend and Bernie's-esque photo-op with a propped-up Barney ("That's the dream!" Ted says taking on the Barney trope while he's passed out), Marshall and Ted set off to gather the ingredients for the Stinson Hangover Fixer Elixir which he has used to cure them all of hangovers throughout their friendships. Meanwhile, Robin and Lily are tasked with waking Barney up to get the secret ingredient out of him.
This episode travels backwards in time as we get to see the gang at their lowest moments, hungover with only Barney's magic Elixir to pick them back up. (Like when Ted was left at the alter, Marshall thought he failed his Bar exam, and Lily had to go on a kindergarten field trip to the jackhammer and siren museum.)
Barney's inebriated state encourages the rest of the group to vow to never again get that drunk, which, of course, is a promise they break and the show then travels foreword in time to reveal each of those drunken future moments. Lily's adventure shows us a grown-up Marvin off at college who gets caught drinking in the same bar as his mom. "You son of a bitch!" they cry out in unison when they spot each other, proving that Marvin has inherited his mother's attitude and somebody's blonde hair. (Perhaps Marvin is actually Barney's baby? Now that would be a twist.)
The show's writers also fake us out with Robin and Barney's flash forward, making it seem like they have a baby, but surprise! They've drunkenly passed out in the wrong room and the baby's not theirs.
Robin and Lily try the only thing guaranteed to wake Barney up: They kiss. This kiss was a long time coming for Lily, who has made several hundred thousand passes at Robin throughout the show.
As predicted, Barney wakes up just long enough to tell everyone that the secret ingredient is nothing, and the gang discovers that Barney lied to them for their own good because he wanted to convince them they could rally.
So in the spirit of loving via lying, the gang tells Barney that they Weekend at Barney'd the wedding photos, when, in reality, they missed the pics and Robin's dad hit Barney in the balls. But Barney is going to forever think that he's passed out in a bunch of wedding pics until, you know, those photos never materialize.
On the whole, the episode was pretty solid, drawing on several old gags from the earlier and better seasons, like the one where Barney can't take a bad photo. Ted tests this theory at the start of the episode hoping that even though he's passed out, Barney's photogenic magic will work. It doesn't. But we got this gem of a photo, so it definitely wasn't a wasted effort.
Ted's moral-of-the-story moment as the episode wraps up is that sometimes you have to lie for the ones you love, which seems really counterproductive to tell children, but so is 99 percent of what Ted's stories include. He gives his wife the fake elixir in 2022 after a rough New Year's Eve to boost her for the day ahead as their young children come running into the room, and everything about this episode remains adorable.