HIMYM returned from a short hiatus last night with “The Fortress,” referring to Barney’s swinging bachelor pad.  With season nine now a done deal, all storylines are now fast forwarded to a year from now, spring 2014. In this one, Robin pressures Barney to finally let go of the Fortress of Barnitude. Barney is hesitant.

With Lily now working as the Captain’s art consultant, Marshall has been stuck with more than his fair share of Marvin duties. Marshall says that they haven’t been intimate in weeks, and that she hasn’t even had time to sit down and watch their favorite show, Woodworthy Manor, together. The show is clearly an amusing mockery of the PBS show Downton Abbey.  Ted urges Marshall to forget about Lily and watch the new episode with him.

Barney invites Ted over to the Fortress, saying that he would like to hand it down to him. Ted denies the request, saying you couldn’t pay him to live there. After this plan fails, Robin decides to go behind Barney’s back and schedule an open house. At the open house, Marshall and Ted are overheard discussing Woodworthy Manor, and one of the other open house patrons confuses them for a couple. Marshall decides to run with it, and paint Lily as intolerant to their lifestyle to get back at her. 

Robin finally finds a buyer for the fortress, but then is informed that they plan to gut out the whole place. Some part of her must hold some sentimental value for the Fortress, as she turns down their offer. Meanwhile, Ted starts making out with one of the other open house patrons in a closet. Marshall feigns disgust at first, but quickly gives up the ruse. He and Lily make up, but just as they are about to leave, the Captain calls. Lily snubs his request and tells him that she is going to spend the night with her husband.

With the closeness of the Ted-Marshall friendship, I’m surprised that it took this long to do a storyline with them as a gay couple. It was somewhat amusing, but I think it probably could have been done better. I also find it pretty unrealistic that the girl Ted meets at the open house is at first championing Marshall and Ted as a couple and then later is making out with Ted in a closet. The Downton Abbey spoof was rather amusing, I have to admit.  It definitely seems like the type of show that Mosby would obsess about. This episode was written by long time staff writer Stephen Lloyd. He has written twelve episodes of a wide range of qualities (the others are Splitsville, The Naked Truth, Karma, Cleaning House, Zoo or False, The Wedding Bride, Right Place Right Time, Intervention, Spoiler Alert, The Goat, and Brunch). Another thing worth noting is that this episode was directed by Michael Shea, the AD for HIMYM’s lead director, Pamela Fryman.

The legend continues next week with “The Time Travelers,” written by show co-creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas, Monday at 8/7c on CBS.