Episode 19 - The Fortress
26 March 2013
Synopsis: Robin wants Barney to sell his apartment before they get married. She holds an open house but Barney scares away prospective buyers by showing off his various one-night stand trickery. Meanwhile Lily has been busy working all hours for the Captain chasing down various pieces of art. She's been gone so much that Marshall never sees her and can't watch Woodworthy Manner, the British show which Ted also loves.
The Good: Although the content in this episode was the usual nonsense, the format was such an improvement that it made an important difference to how engaged and entertained I was. We had no horrible puns, no jumps through time, no lists of things and no repeated scenes. Instead we got all five of our main characters having clear emotional goals and pursuing them. The result was a story which stayed interesting throughout and helped cover for some of the poor logic.
The Bad: So even though I place the actual stories themselves in The Bad, I didn't dislike them with anything close to my usual vigour.
In a way I appreciate the effort made to address the fact that Robin is marrying a sociopathic man-whore. The conclusion sees her acknowledge that his genius and zest are what attracted her to him despite the dark and unsavoury nature of his single life. It was a nice try but sadly the writers have so indulged themselves in sleazy Barney stories that by shining a light on his apartment they just underlined what a cartoon character he really is. How are we supposed to take his apartment seriously? He has the Mr Burns bed setup where a fresh one is somehow mechanically concealed under the floor. He has a garbage shoot which leads outside. His technological setup is as implausible as the dumb women he used to sleep with and it's just a bad idea to try and mix Robin's genuine love for him in with that.
On the opposite end of the relationship scale Marshall and Lily are having a spat over the amount of time she is spending at her new job. It's an understandable issue but given how long they've been together it never felt plausible that Marshall would childishly mock her. Why wouldn't they just have a conversation about it? The sheer flippancy with which she was then able to say no to the Captain (and didn't even say goodbye on the phone, a pet peeve of mine) made it clear how silly a "problem" it was all along.
The Downton Abbey parody was harmless and predictable. Although somehow it led to Ted making out with a girl (who thought he was gay) in a plot only fit for Barney's shenanigans. I thought Ted was done with dating? Wasn't that the whole point of him spending multiple episodes dating a crazy woman?
Comic Highlight: There were two moments I thought were pretty good. The first was Lily walking in with comically large glasses. Apparently they are glare reduction Lunettes which help her discern between great art and pretentious crap. To which Ted responds "Too bad you weren't wearing those glasses when you bought those glasses." Then later Ted enters Barney's apartment to the amazing sight of Barney's head being projected into the middle of the room ala Superman's father in the first Super Man movie. Ted walks over to the closet where Barney is being filmed and demands to talk to his actual face. Barney yells at him to be cool for once in a voice that was half bro and half child and it really amused me. It was one of those rare genuinely plausible and funny moments which fitted the ridiculous nature of Barney's new toy and his desire to use it.
How I rate your episode: By sticking to the tried and tested rules of how to tell actual stories this was far better than it had any right to be.
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