The string of "How I Met Your Mother" guest stars in season eight continued with the return of The Captain (Kyle MacLachlan) -- Zoey’s ex-husband and Ted’s nemesis -- on "Ashtray," which aired Feb. 18 on CBS.
When the episode started and Ted (Josh Radnor) received a call from The Captain, the "HIMYM" storyline seemed lackluster at best. After all, it’s been a year and a half since Ted broke up with Zoey, so if his nemesis was going to seek revenge, chances are it would have been much sooner than this. And sure enough, Ted is simply crazy -- as Lily (Alyson Hannigan) has pointed out time and time again recently -- and he’s letting his own insecurities and issues blind him to what’s really going on.
Robin (Cobie Smulders) is no better on "How I Met Your Mother" "Ashtray." Ted may have been high off "sandwiches" when he last saw The Captain in 2011, but Robin was also running late from a meeting (a.k.a. drunk). In her version of events, Ted’s nemesis was flirting with her at every turn, and the ubiquitous expensive ashtray continued its string of appearances.
As the "HIMYM" episode unfolded, it got better -- and funnier. Ted never high-fived the waiter at the art (not Garfunkel) gallery show; rather, he knocked a tray out of his hands. Meanwhile, Robin is attempting to seduce via chapstick.
But unlike Ted, Robin has clearly moved on from her "infatuation" of years past. Plus neither are the reason that The Captain called Ted in 2013. Rather, he’s looking for the red-headed Kindergarten teacher. And no, he’s not going to pay her $4 million, as Marshall (Jason Segel) so innocently suggests when he says he doesn’t care if The Captain calls his wife.
In the end, it turns out there’s much more to this storyline than some relationship revenge and boats. The Captain may have snubbed Lily's taste in art years ago when he said, “It doesn’t matter what you like, you’re a kindergarten teacher” -- hence why she stole the ashtray -- but he’s realized she has a great eye for art. And just like that Lily has a new job, and a new purpose in life -- other than Marvin of course.
While "How I Met Your Mother" ended up fulfilling on that score, it also had a side story that needed to be addressed, and the CBS comedy easily hit its mark. Who is Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) now that he’s in a monogamous relationship? He may joke about having a "super-enlightened forward-thinking marriage where we don’t get suffocated by monogamy," but everyone knows he’s with Robin and no one else. That won’t be changing.
But his life is changing, and he’s not always going to be a part of Ted’s "crazy stories." "If I have a passion, it’s taking life and turning it into a series of crazy stories," Barney says. What he needs is to find a way to keep those crazy stories going, even though he may not be able to pull the Royal Archduke of Grand Fenwick any longer.
So, everyone is growing up -- even Barney. As for Ted? He’s still just as crazy as ever.
"How I Met Your Mother" airs on CBS Mondays at 8 p.m. EST.
© Elizabeth SanFilippo 2013