How I Met Your Mother "The Fortress" Review: If Lily Were to Buy Barney's Place, It'd be the Fortress of Suckitude

By Bill Kuchman

Mar 19, 2013

How I Met Your Mother S08E19: "The Fortress"

Lily is the worst.

Oh, I have to write more than just that? Okay, okay, but that one statement could summarize "The Fortress" in its entirety. One of the biggest problems HIMYM has encountered lately is that Lily has ceased being an actual character and instead been transformed into a plot device. She swings without warning from being Marshall’s goofy partner in sexual escapades to being the unhappy mother who blames her husband for her career as a teacher. (Speaking of which, did Lily quit her job as a teacher, or is she just playing hooky while she’s looking at art for The Captain?)

When HIMYM started in 2005, Alyson Hannigan was probably the most famous member of the core cast. Yeah, Neil Patrick Harris’s Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle cameo debuted in 2004, but other than that, he didn’t have much going on. Josh Radnor’s biggest role before the show was the tour guide in Not Another Teen Movie. Jason Segel’s Freaks and Geeks/Undeclared years were in the past. Cobie Smulders wasn’t on anyone’s radar. Hannigan was the big draw, made famous by the American Pie trilogy. By the time HIMYM wraps up after next season, Hannigan is going to wind up being the cast member with the least noteworthy stuff on her resume. How much of that can be blamed on the weak character she’s played the past few seasons?

So what was it about "The Fortress" that makes me declare Lily the worst? After Lily’s life crisis a few weeks ago, the one where she claimed she had given up her dreams as an artist for the life she now has (even though she failed to find success as an artist in San Francisco and came back to Marshall on her own), Lily is now working as an art consultant for The Captain, the ex-husband of Zoey, the woman Ted stole away from The Captain. Unable to just let Lily settle into this job as a normal person, the HIMYM writers have turned her into a single-minded workaholic, having her choose to abandon Marshall and Marvin whenever The Captain calls. Okay, maybe Lily could allow herself to get sucked in by work—it happens to the best of us—but the fact that we had to watch and listen to her become some snooty art expert who wears capes and feathered hats was too much. Hasn’t Lily made fun of Ted (on numerous occasions) for changing his personality to fit a new girl he was dating?

With just over a season left to go, I think Lily’s become a lost cause. If HIMYM were to devote the time needed to save her character, it would be taking away valuable time from the one final story HIMYM fans are dying to see—the one where Ted meets the Mother.

There are only five episodes left in Season 8, so are we any closer to meeting the Mother? Nope. "The Fortress" focused mainly on Barney’s hesitation to give up his apartment so that he and Robin can move into a place of their own. After Ted declined to buy the place and make it Ted’s “Fortress of Soli-Ted,” Robin threw an open house to finally find a buyer. Thanks to this, we got a chance to see Barney show off all the features he'd built into the apartment to aid him in his one-night stand adventures: A doormat that alerted Barney to girls who weren’t quite so thin under winter coats, a balcony equipped with a green screen to convince women they were in Paris or Niagara Falls, a chute that would allow Barney to bail out of the apartment and into the alley, and a sprinkler system that would activate at the sound of commitment—all features that seemed to chase away potential buyer after potential buyer, making it appear that Barney and Robin would forever live there.

Once Robin did find a buyer for the apartment, Barney came to terms with the change upon realizing that the Fortress of Solitude was where Superman went to be alone, and with Robin in his life, Barney no longer wanted to be alone. Luckily for Barney, Robin then kicked the buyer out when they told her they planned on stripping the apartment to its framework. Robin realized that while Barney’s apartment features were kind of creepy, they still showed signs of genius.

While Lily was being the worst and Robin and Barney were trying to figure out where to live, Marshall was coping with Lily’s absence and Ted was filling in for Lily, picking up the slack during Marvin’s lullaby time. Since Lily was gone so much, Marshall not only missed the chance to be intimate with his wife, he also missed watching new episodes of Woodworthy Manor, their new favorite TV addiction. Alone and vulnerable, though, Marshall succumbed to Ted’s advances and committed a few acts of Netflix adultery, watching ahead without Lily. The two later showed up to Robin’s open house with Marvin and were mistaken for a gay married couple, something Marshall was more than happy to play along with to spite his wife.

As I mentioned above, there are just five episodes left in the season, meaning HIMYM should start picking up again soon. The final two episodes of Season 8 are called "Something Old" and "Something New," which diehard HIMYM fans will realize closely mirrors "Something Borrowed" and "Something Blue," the last two episodes of Season 2. The main events in those two Season 2 episodes? A wedding in the penultimate episode and a wedding reception in the season finale. Here’s hoping HIMYM once again follows that pattern, giving us Barney and Robin’s wedding in "Something Old" and their wedding reception in "Something New." If "Something Old" was the wedding, it would be the completion of an old love story, meaning "Something New" would be the perfect spot to introduce us to a new love story… the Mother's.


– Barney is a state certified orgasmologist. Now I understand were my tax dollars were going when I lived in New York.

– While Barney's Hoe-Be-Gone Sleep System was interesting, I really want to know where the lion head statue the guys stole from the Arcadian has gone. It was once hanging above Barney's bed, but appears to have gone missing this season.

’s Woodworthy Manor is to Downton Abbey what Community’s Inspector Spacetime is to Dr. Who.

– Lily was wearing a sweater with a boat on it while on the phone with The Captain. How appropriate.

– “Oh my god, can you just be cool? Once. Please. Just once. Can you just be cool once? Please?” I loved Barney’s deadpan plea for coolness from Ted.

– Barney upon arriving in an apartment full of people: “I see what this is. You finally greenlit my orgy idea.”

– Robin: “It’s an open house, Barney. Say goodbye to your fortress.”

– Barney: “If we weren’t about to have an orgy, I’d be so mad at you right now.” 

– Netflix cheating is a real thing. At least, according to an article that appeared on The Cut this week.

– Robin trying to get people excited about Barney’s apartment: “You know what’s not a choice? Being gay for this kitchen! That came out wrong…”

– Barney to Ted after watching a test dummy meet its death after falling from his escape chute: “And you said testing with a dummy was a waste of time.”

– Ted: “No, I said dressing the dummy up was a waste of time.” 

– “The Fortress of Solitude is where Superman goes to be alone, and I never want to be alone again. But then I remembered that in Superman II, Superman gave up all his powers to be with Lois Lane, and he was honestly kind of a vag after that. Now Superman III was a complete trainwreck, totally.” Barney’s attempt to once again explain his love to Robin wasn’t the most graceful of his monologues, but it did highlight the fact that the “Superman films are uneven.”

– No, Open House Girl is not the Mother.

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  • sduvoisin Mar 22, 2013

    Was this Netflix cheating? I thought it was DVR cheating. When they talk about the big reveal they've been working on "all season long." That doesn't sound Netflixish to me.

    I enjoyed Lily's crazy characters. Bill you are always harping on this. Mainly because what are you going to do with this character. She's reconiled with her father, she's married to the love of her life, she's a mom, and now she's even got a job she loves (I assumed she was still teaching and they just weren't showing that but maybe she isn't.) How do you develop her any further and where do you take her? I say just have fun with it.

    I kinda think that apartment should either become a Museum of Banging or should be torn down. Ted can't live there - no way. And will any Bro be able to use it the way Barney has over the years? The answer is no. Sometimes you gotta retire the jersey of a player that's relaly good. Barney's apartment might need to be retired.

  • abdulay31 Mar 22, 2013

    My main issue wuth the episode is that with this being the show coming to its last legs they should focus on the last remaining puzzle of the show and revel the mother cuz that is the theme of the entirety of the show. Ted is now a pushover to the whole Robin/Barney relationship which is stale. On Lily u only get to do what the writers give u and it aint her fault that most of the stuff with the Captain is boring, i much orefer if she is given the sort of paronoid mom.

  • jewel47 Mar 21, 2013

    Can we not talk about the elephant in the room concerning Robin and Barney?! The question of children has not even been mentioned until this episode when they talk about a joke concerning adoption. Robin does not want to have children but we have been shown before that Barney does one day want children. I recall an episode where he and Ted wanted to adopt a baby together. So how does it work that Robin never wants kids and Barney does???!!!!

  • lucasoliveira1 Mar 22, 2013

    Robin doesn't have any children. That gets stated on some episode of season 7

  • jewel47 Mar 22, 2013

    Yep you are right, it says that she never has children. But if Barney wants children, does that mean one day they may break up because of it? Is Robin and Barney destined to fail because of it. In the episode where she learns that she can't have kids it goes on to say how she does all of the amazing things instead. But it never says she does them with Barney or anyone else for that matter.

  • ChanX95 Mar 20, 2013

    I need the Jor-El head contraption in my life!

  • abdulay31 Mar 22, 2013

    yeah totally enjoyed that bid especially when Barney was using it

  • MegLady Mar 19, 2013

    I loved the Jor-el floating head bit, especially when Robin got in to use it. The episode may not have moved the Ted storyline ahead but I still enjoyed the jokes and all of Barney's contraptions.

  • BereniceAndrea Mar 19, 2013

    I agree about Lily, she's been the weakest character in the last few season, which makes her completly boring. HIMYM used to have so well written character and it was so much fun to watch that it just makes me sad, mostly because Alyson Hannigan has proven to be so amazing when Lily demanded it.
    However, and unlike the last 3 or so episodes, HIMYM was pure fun, not because of plot but because the time these writers didn't spend on Lily they spent on Marshall and Barney, and that was so worthy. Those two characters are by far the best and honestly, it's the only thing that makes HIMYM worth watching lately.
    I do hope they get serious about the finale, this is a show I love and I would hate to watch sink before it concludes...

  • AriSky Mar 19, 2013

    I think each of them has had their ups and downs as the show goes on. Sure, Hannigan hasn't had the most success outside the show compared to the others, but she's by no means out for the count. I've enjoyed Lily's blips this season - she's been very real. No one is ever a perfect parent. No one is ever a perfect spouse. No one is ever a perfect employee. People make mistakes, just like she has. It gives the series that touch of grounding in reality that's easy to lose track of. And this episode might not have been full-blown "here's the mother" progressive, but it still got back to the main plot of the season: the marriage. Robin and Barney are figuring out the steps necessary. We're getting there.

  • coop4ever59 Mar 19, 2013

    Can this show get any worse? I don't think so!!! How can they be bringing it back for another year? Just tell us people who started watching this show when it was still good, who the hell the mother is and cancel this big piece of crap!!!!!!!!!! Oh, and The Following is a joke! If the FBI was really this incompetent, they'd disband it for crying out loud!!!

  • kanniballl Mar 19, 2013

    The show has really gone down the crapper.

    It's kind of sad, when the funniest bits of a show are the made up inventions. When "Carrot Top's" strategy is the best part of a comedy bit, you have a major problem.

    That being said... Barney's inventions were pretty funny. Particularly the Jor-El device, the Ho-Be-Gone, and how "I'm all wet" turns off the sprinkler ;-)

  • mrjimmyjames Mar 19, 2013

    I disagree on Alyson being the least successful of the cast right now. Josh Radnor is the one that is doing the worst. It's not as if "Liberal Arts" has made him a star.

  • sandorxian Mar 19, 2013

    Lily might be bored because of her horrible husband. If the show could just kill him off I bet that she would bloom if she encounters a normal man.

  • kanniballl Mar 19, 2013

    Marshall is one of the most even aspects of the show. He's boring at times: but he's usually fairly funny, often quite wise (when it comes to Ted), and probably the most normal character on the show.

    Robin is probably the second-most-normal character, though her hijinx sometimes put her just above Barney in terms of normalcy.

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