TV: ‘How I Met Your Mother’ plays on its greatest strengths in “The Ashtray”

By Meryl Gottlieb|| @buzzlightmeryl
How I Met Your Mother airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on CBS
Rating: 5/5

The Ashtray

So, this episode may or may not have aired last week and I may or may not have missed it. I apologize greatly but now you get a double dose of How I Met Your Mother in one night.

Anyway, this episode was PHENOMENAL. Not only did it use HIMYM’s most unique aspect – its possibility for manipulation of time – but it also advanced the overall plot, something that has lately been missing in most episodes.

When The Captain (Kyle MacLachlan) randomly calls Ted (Josh Radnor), he panics when he recalls the last time the two met. At an art gallery opening, Ted, Lily (Alyson Hannigan) and Robin (Cobie Smulders) ran into The Captain since he apparently is one of the biggest art collectors in New York.

Ted is convinced The Captain is still mad about Zoey and is cautious around him but seems to handle himself quite coolly. When The Captain reveals he has a new love interest, Ted investigates it is Becky (Laura Bell Bundy) – the “Boats, Boats, Boats” girl – who Ted had rebound with after Zoey, so again he is stealing The Captain’s girl.

At this point, I was rather unamused, thinking it was just going to be another filler episode. Boy, was I wrong.

Back in the present, The Captain calls again but instead of threatening Ted, he instead asks for Robin. Robin then tells what really happened that night…

Ted had “smoked a sandwich” and was out of his mind, which resulted in such hilarity that the show has been missing in awhile. The Captain was actually out to be with Robin the entire time.

Having multiple versions of a story and realizing the truth in each is one of the best things HIMYM has going for it. The ability to play with time is so quintessential to the show; when it is handled right, it is hilarious and excellent.

However, when Robin calls The Captain, he tells her he is actually looking for Lily. Dun, dun, duuuuuunnnnn. Lily then tells what truly happened…

Ted was high and Robin was super drunk – perfectly acted by both Radnor and Smulders, well done. Robin was actually very flirty with The Captain and every moment was hilarious! Cobie Smulders deserves some attention for her comedy; why she hasn’t had in it the past is a crime.

After making a comment about a painting he should have purchased, The Captain made a rude remark about Lily just being a kindergarten teacher and not knowing anything about art. So, she stole the very expensive crystal ashtray he had. And she should have! Lily is wonderful and no one can tell her otherwise!

During this whole retelling of stories, Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) continually insisted he was a part of this “crazy story.” In the end, we find out that he tried so hard to be a part of it because that’s what he has going for him. So, in an incredibly sweet way Ted and Robin remind Barney of how he actually was involved.

While not super prevalent to the storyline, I thought it was an adorable moment between friends. Barney has grown a lot during the series and this showed his growth but also showed his old side that we all had come to love.

Marshall (Jason Segel) argues that Lily should return the ashtray but she refuses because she says The Captain was right. She is just a kindergarten teacher; she never pursued her dream to be involved in the art world. Awh. Lily has often been the comedic relief in some episodes; it’s nice to see her have a good, solid storyline.

To comfort her, Marshall is even more sweet than normal. He tells her that the best days are ahead of her and more adorable cheer-up talk. I just love these two so much!!!!

The Captain actually never knew the ashtray was gone. Really? An expensive crystal ashtray? Oh, well. However, he wanted to talk with Lily because he ended up taking her advice about the painting, which has now increased its value tenfold.

Thus, he offers her a job to be his new art consultant and she accepts!!

Adorable moments for the characters, the cast was hilarious in this episode, AND the ending helped move the plot forward and brightened up Lily’s future that she was so dismal about a few weeks back.

Beautiful work, writers. Well done.


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