How I Met Your Mother Review: “The Fortress” (Season 8, Episode 19)

This week’s episode of How I Met Your Mother infused a great deal of humour into two very realistic problems for the two couples and resulted in an excellent episode. The two main problems are Robin’s desire to sell Barney’s apartment and Lily’s busier schedule causing Marshall to feel neglected.

Those who have been reading my reviews all season know that I’ve been extremely unhappy with the amount of episodes focused on the relationship between Barney and Robin. For those of you who are just tuning in for this review, let me briefly recap why I’m so upset. Season 7 had an incredible ending with the reveal that it’s actually Robin sharing the marriage vows with Barney, not Quinn. The writers should have been fully aware that because they opted for that ending, there could no longer be any suspense over whether Barney and Robin end up together. They do, or at least for long enough to have a wedding. That’s that.

But so far, the show has attempted to have its cake and eat it too. Episode after episode we’ve been bludgeoned with small quarrels and differences that are supposed to make all the viewers stay awake late at night wondering if Barney and Robin can ever find any way to make things work. What the show’s creators seem to have forgotten is that we know they have a wedding, so obviously they can work out their little issues.

Tonight’s episode, The Fortress, is another one focused on Barney and Robin, however, it’s drastically different from the rest of the season in the most excellent of ways. There’s never any effort made to lead the audience to worry about the couple breaking up over the issue. Some might say that this is a missed opportunity and if the stakes aren’t as high there isn’t any reason to care. The reason to care? Because it’s real. The problem Barney and Robin are faced with in this episode is a real problem, something that real couples have to deal with, and while it’s never in question that they’ll find some form of solution, it’s a great moment of growth in their relationship, instead of a setback and then a return to stagnancy as we’ve seen too often this season.

How I Met Your Mother‘s strength is in these real moments. It is one of the best shows on television at accurately portraying the real-life events that we all go through. Sure, the humour is great and there are some scathingly emotional moments, but it’s all based in reality and that’s where the show succeeds. Not only did we get that reality of relationships with Barney and Robin, but we also got it with Lily and Marshall.

Marshall is forced to spend more time taking care of the baby on his own due to Lily’s new job as an art consultant. In the past, Lily had worked as a kindergarten teacher, which is just about as regular of hours as possible, meaning Marshall never had much time where he had to be home without her. Now that she has a more involved job, with a less regular schedule, he feels a bit hurt that she’s always running out on him.

She obviously isn’t going to ignore the Captain considering she just started the job, regardless of how nice of a guy he is, but it’s inevitable that eventually so many canceled plans and so much time missing their TV show is going to cause Marshall to be upset. Of course eventually she’s going to realize that she has to find a way to spend time with Marshall, but again, this is a problem that many couples face, and thus it’s relatable.

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