If you tuned in to How I Met Your Mother you may have seen some familiar things. “The Ashtray” retold the tale of the gang’s last encounter with The Captain (guest star Kyle MacLachlan). Were a few hidden gems from the past enough to keep us entertained?

The Players:

  • Director: Pamela Fryman
  • Writers: Carter Bays and Craig Thomas
  • Cast: Josh Radnor, Jason Segel, Cobie Smulders, Neil Patrick Harris, Alyson Hannigan, Bob Saget, Kyle MacLachlan, Ellen D. Williams, Alexis Denisof

Episode Title: “The Ashtray”

The gang recalls their last encounter with The Captain when he unexpectedly calls Ted.

The Good:

  • The Re-return: Last night, The Captain brought back fear, scary eyes and his creepy smile. Also making an appearance was Lily’s patented brand of punishment: taking a toy when someone’s bad, also known as “Aldrin Justice.” There was the reappearance of the sandwich. As all diehard HIMYM fans know, in an effort to preserve some integrity while telling the story to his children, Ted substitutes sandwiches for an illegal substance that’s been known to cause the munchies.  

The So-So:

  • The Elephant in the Room: In the telling, re-telling, and telling again of The Captain’s story two things became obvious: no one likes it when you give out their phone number and hard partying can affect a story’s outcome. After Robin’s booze addled account of The Captain’s nonexistent affection and Ted’s selective memory misadventures, we learned the gang’s’ final encounter resulted in The Captain and his Art Consultant taking turns insulting Lily’s artistic eye. We love that Lily finally gets a chance to live her dreams, but it would have been nice to be surprised by it, like earlier this season in “Twelve Horny Men.”
  • The Eternal Playbook: It’s no surprise that we’ve been hit with another unseen page of The Playbook. The writers seem to be playing it a bit fast and loose with Barney’s character. After spending the entire episode trying to inject himself into Ted, Lily, and Robin’s story about The Captain, he made a pathetic plea due to some farcical identity crisis. Trying to abate his displeasure, Ted and Robin went with a wild story he crafted in which he tricked Shelly the art consultant into thinking he was The Royal Archduke of Grand Fenwick. As the gang never found this out themselves, they’re left believing that Barney’s in the throes of an identity crisis that’s beneath him. Barney is awesome.  We know it and he knows it. Anything that disabuses that fact is practically criminal.

The Quotable:

  • Ted: “That’s weird, I have a message.”  Marshall: “That’s weird, you still have an answering machine.”

Overall:

“The Ashtray” should have been an excellent episode. Unfortunately, trying to disguise a predictable plot with splendors from the past didn’t work the way they planned. We’re all for reliving the good ole days, as long as it doesn’t get in the way of the present.  Plus, we’re still holding out for the return of The Slap Bet and Slapsgiving.

Rating: 7/10

How I Met Your Mother airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on CBS.

What did you think of this episode?