How I Met Your Mother Review: “The Ashtray” (Season 8, Episode 17)

The varying perspectives story where multiple people give very different accounts of an event is nothing revolutionary for television, and certainly not for How I Met Your Mother, which is all told from Ted’s subjective point of view. Fortunately, The Ashtray was able to overcome the lack of originality in premise and lack of strength in plot with a series of great jokes and an ultimate win for one of the show’s most stagnant characters.

Kyle MacLachlan’s The Captain returned this week for an excellent guest appearance. The Captain has always been one of my favorite characters. After all, when a man is bold enough to give himself a name, you know he’s going to provide for some great laughs, and right from the start the whole devil eyes/pleasant smile joke was brought back into play.

The Captain calls Ted and leaves a message on Ted’s answering machine. Ted assumes that The Captain wants to kill him with a harpoon gun since he stole Zoey away. Ted then recounts a story from a while ago when he last ran into The Captain at an art gallery. In Ted’s story The Captain was a jerk to him and threatened him at one point. It turns out that The Captain called simply because he wanted Robin’s number, so Ted gives it to him assuming she won’t mind.

She minds. Robin is extremely angry at the guys for giving her number away, and then she recounts the story of running into The Captain in a very different way from Ted. Turns out that Ted had a pretty big sandwich before going to the gallery, and his version of the story was a bit off. The way Robin tells it, The Captain was hitting on her the whole time, and she told him to call her in a year and a half. Robin decides to call The Captain and let him down easy, but it turns out he really wanted to talk to Lily. Robin gives him Lily’s number assuming she won’t mind.

She minds. It turns out Lily’s version of the story is much different from Robin’s or Ted’s as Ted was high and Robin was completely wasted. Lily advised that The Captain pick out a certain painting at the gallery and he basically called it crap saying that she’s nothing more than a kindergarten teacher so what does she know about art.

This really hits home for Lily, as it reminds her that 8 years after getting that art fellowship in San Fransisco she still hasn’t done anything with her art degree. In order to get back at the captain, she administered some Aldrin justice and stole his extremely expensive crystal ashtray. She assumes that’s why The Captain is calling her. Marshall convinces her that she has to return it, so the next morning she goes to see The Captain. It turns out that he didn’t even realize the ashtray was gone. The reason he called her is he went back to the gallery later that night and bought the painting Lily recommended. In the year and a half since he bought it the artist became the next big thing, and he just sold the painting for $4 million. Since Lily was the only one who saw the potential, he wants to give her a job as an art consultant.

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