How I Met Your Mother Season 8 Review “The Fortress” and “The Time Travelers”

In the process of getting Robin and Barney to the altar, How I Met Your Mother has used the last few episodes to show us how the two of them have managed to get over the hurdles of their previous relationship habits in preparation for their future together.

In “The Fortress,” Robin and Barney agreed to sell Barney’s bachelor pad so they could start their new life together without the history of all of his previous conquests lurking in the background. To no one but Robin’s surprise, Barney was actually pretty resistant to the idea of letting just anyone move into his place. Where normal couples might have talked about a compromise – say a remodel to remove some of Barney’s sleazier contraptions – Robin and Barney went behind one another’s backs to get their way. Because Robin and Barney are fundamentally dysfunctional, Barney feigned cooperation and Robin held an open house without his permission.

It’s as if every time Robin and Barney try to force their relationship into the confines of normal expectations, they end up miserable. They go through the same cycle over and over again. Robin gets frustrated with Barney for being the person she always knew he was, Barney realizes that he’s willing to change if it will make Robin happy, and then Robin admits that she’s actually OK with Barney being a charming, brilliant sociopath. Robin and Barney work best when they let themselves be themselves and simply accept the fact that they actually like one another for the dysfunctional people they are.

Despite his earlier promises to give up casual dating, “The Fortress” made it seem like Ted was on track to becoming Barney’s playbook heir. “The Time Travelers” put Ted back on the right path and gave Ted an opportunity to spend some quality time with himself and 20 years from now Barney, 20 years from now Ted, 20 hours from now Ted, and 20 minutes from now Barney.

I was looking forward to the reveal which explained how Ted, Barney, and the Coat-Check-Girl were all sharing hallucinations of their future selves, so I was a little bit disappointed by the reality being a sad Ted sitting alone in a bar booth with his imagination. On one hand, it made the emotional narration that followed incredibly effective, but it also made the talk about Robots vs. Wrestlers and the legendary night filled with drunken regret feel like a wasted story that should have been. I guess that was the point of the whole thing, and I’m ready for Ted to settle down, but I don’t know how I feel about everyone getting boring in the process. There used to be a time when everyone in the gang would all have made time for a night of Robots vs. Wrestlers.

Ted’s final narration gave us an actual timeline for Robin and Barney’s wedding. 45 days from the night he spent alone at MacClarens, Ted would finally meet the mother of his children. It’s exciting to have a countdown now – I’m just hoping How I Met Your Mother doesn’t decide to take a real-time approach and make us wait another 45 episodes for the big reveal.

  • Don’t worry about the show taking a real time approach. It has never done that. Creators have confirmed that there is going to be a wedding at the end of season, and we are going to meet the mother. Carter and Craig have also said that the next season is going to take a whole new approach. And we can easily differentiate season 9 episodes from the rest of the seasons. Maybe the focus of the story will change. Seems exciting.

    • simon says

      a whole new approach? i hope it won’t be like scrubs’s season 9. that wasn’t very good. maybe the change won’t be so extreme or maybe extreme is good. but i will watch in any case. it’s not likely that i will stop after 8 seasons.

      • Shez

        I kind of thought that Season 9 might be centered around the beginning of the relationship with the mother, with the Season 8 finale being the moment they met… but not sure how they would make it an interesting season if they did do that.

  • simon says

    while some of the gags in ‘the fortress’ were funny i didn’t like the episode. mainly for the robin barney cycle you described. and partly because the non-storylines/running gags which weren’t enough to be a b-story. and with the a-story not really working the whole thing fell apart.

    as for ‘the time travelers’, one of the best episodes in a while. the war over the drink was fun and i liked the idea of the future versions trying to convince ted. it felt so like the old days. and that makes sense since i was all i ted’s head, wishing it was the old days. and the way they wrapped the whole thing up was great and so sad. it was such a himym-moment. it was a little too much at the end. especially the part with the mother. ted has been saying that he is ready to meet the mother for the whole season (and the seven seasons before this one). but it was so moving and well done that i didn’t even care (that much).