How I Met Your Mother "Romeward Bound" Review: Haven't We Seen This One Before?

By Bill Kuchman

Apr 16, 2013

How I Met Your Mother S08E21: "Romeward Bound"

Ho-hum. While How I Met Your Mother Season 8 has given us some of the series’ best moments, it's also suffered from buzzkill episodes at the most unfortunate times. “Romeward Bound” was one such episode, and it really halted the momentum of the show.

Obviously, not every episode of HIMYM can be a mythology-advancing installment. No series can deliver game-changing episode after game-changing episode. When Lost was on the air, fans were constantly driven mad by the table-setting episodes that broke up the action. But HIMYM has served up more than its fair share of table-setting episodes this season, and pretty much the entire middle of Season 8 was lost (no pun intended) to episodes that neither revealed new pieces of the gang’s story nor were very funny.

Before HIMYM took a multi-week break, the show delivered one of its most powerful moments ever at the end of “The Time Travelers.” Ted's Extra 45 Days speech ratcheted up the emotional stakes and even caused fans to question whether the Mother or Ted might be dead in 2030. Granted, it would've been hard to follow that episode with another big piece of the story, but “Romeward Bound” flopped completely.

Stop me if you’ve heard these plotlines at least once in Season 8. Lily questions whether or not she’s made the right life choices. Marshall struggles at his job as a lawyer. Barney does something that causes Robin to question whether he’s really ready for marriage. HIMYM recycled all of those elements in “Romeward Bound,” an episode that must have been pieced together to fill space after HIMYM got a Season 9 pickup.

I can already hear some of you protesting: "But Marshall and Lily decided to move to Rome at the end of the episode! That’s a huge deal! How could that just be a random storyline thrown together to pad out the season? You don’t know what you’re talking about!"

Hold on—let’s talk logic for a moment. In “Romeward Bound,” the Captain informed Lily that he was moving to Rome, Italy, and he wanted her to come with him, so she could be his international art expert. After refusing the offer twice, Lily and Marshall agreed to venture outside of New York City to go to Italy for a year. But that leaves one big problem:  With next season being HIMYM’s last, there’s zero chance that Lily and Marshall won't be in New York to watch Ted finally meet his wife. Yes, the showrunners have promised that Season 9 will “look and feel much different,” but I don't believe for a second that Marshall and Lily will be spending it in Italy. This episode may have ended with the couple deciding to make the jump across the pond, but that’s not going to happen. So everything that happened with them this week is basically moot.

But while Marshall and Lily’s plotline didn’t have any real impact, I do have to question what Barney’s story was hinting at. With his and Robin’s wedding only a few weeks away, Barney is still showing signs that his bachelor ways haven’t completely disappeared. When Liddy, Robin and Barney’s wedding planner, met the group at MacLaren’s and showed up in a giant coat that covered up her “redonkulous” body (Ted’s words, not mine), Barney became obsessed with getting her to take off the outerwear. Ted’s warning to Barney to be careful about how he was acting around Robin was met with harsh words. “You’re not getting married in three weeks, Ted. I am. Robin’s marrying me, not you,” Barney said to his best man. Cold.

And that type of moment is possibly why “Is Barney Wearing a Wedding Ring in HIMYM Flashforwards?” has become a popular game for fans to play. Based on Barney’s behavior and Ted’s cautionary words, should we take this game a bit more seriously? We’ve been promised a wedding this season, but we haven't necessarily been promised a marriage. If you’re a supporter of the "Ted and the Mother Get Divorced and Ted Eventually Marries Robin" theory, "Romeward Bound" probably threw some fuel on your fire.

HIMYM is off next week, but we’ll get the final three episodes over three consecutive weeks after that. It’s go-time now, right?


– The Captain (Kyle MacLachlan) got a haircut. I think this changes his potential to be frightening.

– Ted described Liddy’s body as “redonkulous,” a term he only used once before, when describing Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol. Great movie, Ted, but if it’s redonkulous, how would you describe Star Wars?

– Marshall’s black-and-white Italian girlfriend promised to move to Minnesota with him and learn his mother’s ham casserole recipe. Wouldn’t Mrs. Eriksen’s seven-layer dip recipe be more enticing? I mean, it has gummy bears in it.

– Barney describing to Ted why it’s okay for him to look at other women: “It’s like birdwatching. And right now, I’m watching a double-breasted... ROBIN!”

– When Ted tried to ask Liddy out, her redonkulous body stunned him. ”Indiana Jones wouldn’t look at this body. This is a body that would melt a Nazi's face.” Barney: “Aw man, I want my face to melt.”

– “Come on, bro. Don’t bogart all the Funyuns.” The only Italian phrase Marshall knows, yet depending on how he says it, it can mean almost anything.

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  • kanwaljeet2ch Apr 27, 2013

    i think the marshall and lily can spare some time for thier friends wedding....

  • vespa4 Apr 23, 2013

    i agree with what was said about lily and marshall but ive long given up on their storylines so i dont really care about that. But i disagree with what you said about robin and barney because it wasnt another "Robin questions whether barneys ready for marriage" plot, Robin was fine with Barney wanting to see Liddys "Ridonkulous body" and was in fact curious about it herself. I thought their plot had the opposite effect, proving that they are right for eachother, and i loved barneys speech at the end to ted, he needed to hear it. he was lecturing barney on how to treat his fiancee. thats a bit rude like, especially when that fiancee is teds ex. i didnt think it was a complete waste of an episode but im now dreading what happens with lily and marshall cause its gonna be boring and shitty... like all their storylines.

  • BrookeKircher Apr 21, 2013

    I agree with your review, after several episodes that I thought actually developed the characters and plotline, this did nothing for me. I don't know what it is about the Lily plot line. I wish they would have developed it better - it went from "I don't know if I made the right choices" to a job literally falling into her lap. I don't know if its the believability factor or just the fact that I just don't like it because it feels way to cartoonish with the captain.

    Also what is going on with Robin and Barney. I absolutley hated the fact that she was "okay" with it implied with the last 30 seconds of the episode. This is reverting Barney backwards.... and if this is why/how they will break them up.... Not legendary ...lame.

    I have to give Jason Segel mad props though. His Italian sentence had me in stiches, sometimes he really saves episodes for me like that.

    Let's hope the next few are as good as the old season 2-4 episodes.

  • emmap13 Apr 18, 2013

    Love the show so could never hate an episode but this episode frustrated me I really hope after all the recent seasons of setting up Barney and Robin and that wonderful proposal they aren't trying to undo it. It feels like the writers are stuck in a rut with Barney they want to progress his character but are trying to please the people who liked him single too and he seems a bit off, in the past episodes since his engagement we've seen him kinda revert back to his old self but hes always come through with a really sweet message about his feelings for Robin, so this episode feels unfinished I'm hoping it's leading up to just a bump in the road for them and not the beginning of the end as I've never liked her and Ted as a couple even before the idea of her and Barney was around I just wasn't keen. Sorry for the long post needed to vent and my boyfriend doesn't share my interest in talking about the episodes ha ha!

  • hbf716 Apr 18, 2013

    I am so tired of the Ted and Robin thing. In the very first season it was very clear that Ted was not the guy to rally behind because obviously every relationship he got into would fail until the show ended when he would finally meet the love of his life. If it is the wife, why would I ever root for Robin? For me, that meant hoping for another triumphant love story. Immediately that became Barney and Robin. Somewhere in the first or second season there was a scene between these two where I thought they had the best chemistry. I remember thinking how exciting it would be if these two ever got together since they are both professed lovers of the eternal single life. They are perfect for eachother. All the future exciting things that have been foretold for Robin? Who better to do those things with than Barney? I really hope this show doesn't become the worst cliche and have yet another failed wedding day (do they know how much weddings cost??). If Robin and Ted do eventually end up together somewhere in the future - then what would be the point of his 8 season long story? I started watching this show because I so appreciated the idea of soul mates and long lasting love and marriage. I love how Lily and Marshall show what marriage is like (or should be like) - sticking it out through thick and thin. I don't know if it is in the cards for Barney and Robin but my hope remains eternal because to me they are soul mates and marriage can truly be bliss.

  • emmap13 Apr 18, 2013

    totally agree!

  • houbou Apr 18, 2013

    It fun.. It's a sit com, too many people try and over-analyze everything.

    Like anything else, we need to keep it light. I see the comments here and the near 'conspiracy' theory, but the truth is, when the show is over, all will be revealed and if this is a great show, then it will leave the audience wanting even more.. for proof of that feeling, we all wish for Season 6 of Leverage. :)

    This episode was funny, and I can't wait for us to finally meet the mother!!!

  • enomo67 Apr 18, 2013

    Wait, there's a Ted divorces the mother and eventually marries Robin theory? Where did that come from? Doesn't Bob Saget always call her Aunt Robin in the voiceover? I knew the (bogus, in my opinion) "Ted is dead" or "The Mother is dead" theories would pop up as soon as I saw the end of The Time Travelers (stellar episode, btw--best ever?), but the Robin theory is just fans holding out impossible hope, if you ask me.

  • Fallon21 Apr 17, 2013

    I wonder if Robin will get mad at Barney and leave for a while. Remember when Ted mentioned how she was a bull fighter for a little bit?

  • ch0c0nutz Apr 17, 2013

    i found barney telling ted of so so so rude and mean! i thought they'd have a fight cuz it was a really bad thing to say

  • AleNizCabrera Apr 17, 2013

    Yes it was harsh, but this is how I see it. The writers wants Ted to realize Robin is not the girl for him, that she isn't the way he thinks she is cuz that she would never appreciate his grand gestures.
    He and Barney are very different and she prefers Barney qualities
    while Teds have always kind of een too mushy för her taste. He would never be happy on the long run cuz he needs that type of romance in his life. While Barney sees this and thinks Ted needs to finally realize it and get on with his life. I do agree He could have said it in a ncer way

  • Edupinn Apr 17, 2013

    One could easily describe the gang in Season 8:

    Ted - poor, poor single lonely guy....
    Marshall - boring, boring newly dad guy, he has so many responsibilities right now as a dad...
    Lily - what have I done with my life????????? Don't talk to me, I have a son, I'm always busy.
    Robin - awesome fiancee, she's really awesome
    Barney - tries to be as awesome as before, lots of old/recycled jokes

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