Even in its penultimate season, not every “How I Met Your Mother” episode is going to bring viewers closer to the titular reveal.
But even when delivering “filler,” “Mother” has a reputation for doing something to advance the narrative for one of its five central characters.
Such was the case Monday, when new episode “The Ashtray” revealed the moment Lily Aldrin (Alyson Hannigan) finally achieved her dream of a career in the art world.
The journey there was not without its bumps. The balance of Monday’s episode was lackluster, with “Mother” employing another one of its once-creative-but-increasingly-stale “framing devices” to tell a story that relied far too heavily on “under the influence” humor. It also featured the return of the Captain, a character that never resonated the way it should have despite a game performance from Kyle MacLachlan.
As the gang retold stories of their last encounter with the Captain to determine why he wanted to get in touch with Lily, they settled on the fact that she stole his crystal ashtray in their prior meeting. A callback to “Aldrin Justice,” Lily stole the ashtray as retaliation for the rude way he dismissed her advice to purchase an amateur-looking painting of an elephant.
At least that was the surface argument–in a frank confession to husband Marshall (Jason Segel), Lily revealed that his dismissive attitude struck a nerve. After all, she was a kindergarten teacher rather than an artist, and as a woman in her thirties with a child, the odds of her ever achieving that career dream were growing increasingly small.
As it turns out, the Captain ended up buying the painting, and as the artist exploded within the business, so too did the value of the elephant piece. He ended up selling it for $4 million, and insofar as Lily–not his high-priced art consultant–was the only one who saw its merit, he offered her the job.