Season 8, Episode 17
“The Ashtray” turned out to be a rather appropriate name for this filler episode of HIMYM—it pretty much collected the ashes of previous episodes and could be discarded for the most part. I say ‘for the most’ part because the end did give us an actual significant development for one character: Lily embarked on a new career. But other than that, this episode was meant to be a ‘fun’ tale of conflicting accounts and memories. HIMYM has a strong track record replaying one event from different perspectives, but now that we are so close to the final season, this one seemed a bit flat.
Boats, Boats, BOATS!
The episode kicked off with a call from The Captain (i.e. Ted’s ex-girlfriend Zoey’s ex husband…did that make sense?). Kyle MacLachlan reprised his role as the intimidating and incredibly wealthy socialite who has a strong penchant for yachts, and apparently art. Ted is pretty terrified to take the call, as he “remembers” what their last encounter was like. However, Marshall really wants an invitation to sail on a boat, so they answer. And what The Captain wants is…Robin’s number.
At this point we begin the first of several flashbacks to the last time Ted (and the ladies) ran into the The Captain, first from Ted’s perspective and then eventually from Robin’s and finally Lily’s. Of course Barney repeatedly tries to insert himself into the ‘crazy story’—because the notion of a crazy story without Barney just doesn’t make sense to him.
Ted is convinced that The Captain was still horribly angry at him for stealing Zoey, so upon running into each other at an art gallery opening Ted senses a very menacing vibe. Of course when Robin gets around to her version of the evening, she explains that Ted had earlier enjoyed a large ‘sandwich’ with his girl of the moment (a certain Becky) and therefore was too high to even remember the events that night. Robin claims that The Captain was actually totally into her that night and couldn’t care less about Ted. Lily finally sets them both straight and says with Ted being high and Robin being drunk, she was the embarrassed sober one who had to keep her pals in line. Meanwhile, she commented on an elephant painting that no one else liked—The Captain and his snooty art consultant dismissed her opinion as a mere kindergarten teacher. So kindergarten teacher Lily did what kindergarten teacher Lily does: Aldrin Justice. She stole a very pricey crystal ashtray.
Oh Captain, My Captain
Back in the present day, they return the Captain’s call but realize that he really meant to speak with Lily, “the kindergarten teacher.” Lily admits to the group that she stole that ashtray and Marshall becomes concerned that The Captain now wants vengeance. Lily goes to return it and make nice—only after having a breakdown to Marshall that she was very hurt by The Captain’s dismissive comments back in the day because they cut right to her sadness over her lost dreams of being in the art world. Upon visiting the Captain—who couldn’t care less about the ashtray—he explains the actual reason he reached out to Lily. It seems that he did take her advice and buy that elephant panting on that fateful night and now that artist has made quite a name. He just sold it for 4 million dollars and wants to gift Lily half that money! Just kidding! But he really did sell it, and he is keeping his handy profit. The Captain DOES want to offer Lily a job as his art consultant, and that is how Lily makes a major career change.
Oh, and it turned out that Barney actually did manage to participate in the events that evening…he was running a play called The Royal Archduke of Grand Fenwick on The Captain’s art consultant.