I’m glad I got back into The Big Bang Theory because in its seventh year, it’s still pretty funny, and lately it’s been doing something really interesting with its lead characters, particularly Sheldon and Penny. Both are feeling angst over their work: Sheldon, who gave up string theory and Penny, who’s working on a terrible b-movie and having her career go nowhere.
So we meet Penny, Leonard, and Sheldon hanging out, thinking of something to do. They bring bank “Anything Can Happen Thursday” and wander the streets of Pasadena to find a new restaurant. I wondered where Bernadette, Amy, Howard, and Raj were – but we learn that poor Bernie’s working late and Amy’s ill. But are they?
While walking around, they spot Bernadette and Amy at a restaurant. Sheldon and Penny confront the two at the restaurant and the truth comes out: Bernadette is tired of hearing Penny complain about her awful movie, and she’s had enough of Howard’s carping on his monstrous mother; and Amy’s not only tired of Sheldon’s continuous search for a new field of research, but she’s also envious of his close friendship with Penny. When Leonard agrees with Amy and Bernadette, both Sheldon and Penny storm off to have an adventure of their own.
What I love about this episode is that it brings back the best combination of the show: Penny + Sheldon. With the introduction of the other characters – Amy, Bernadette, and Stuart, it felt that Sheldon and Penny had less time for each other. And it’s interesting that it took Amy so long to express her concern about Sheldon’s bond with Penny. With Penny, Sheldon is truly himself – he doesn’t feel the need to be competitive with Penny, nor does she ask him to be anything else but himself. The fact that he goes with her to a psychic speaks volumes about just how strong the bond is. Their relationship is probably the most complex and closest – I find it even more profound than Leonard’s and Sheldon’s – and it’s only natural that Amy feels a bit left out.
I was hoping that maybe Amy would bond with Leonard in this episode – after all, maybe the four could doubledate. But It’s not meant to be, because Amy immediately dashes any hope of a tight friendship by calling their exchange “weird.”
So, Penny and Sheldon leave in a huff and end up at a psychic. Sheldon is predictably skeptical of the woman, calling her a fraud. And though she doesn’t predict anything that a garden variety clairvoyant would claim – she does hit a nerve when she insists that if Sheldon finds peace with Amy, everything else – including his quest for his field of study – will fall into place. He leaves in a terse hissy fit, clearly affected by the prediction.
The subplot deals with Howard and Raj watching House of 1,000 Corpses, a torture porn gore fest that the latter chose because Emily likes them. It’s a middling story somewhat undone by the tired Howard’s mom jokes and the vaguely homophobic jokes about Raj’s femininity. But he makes it through the 1,000 Corpses and admits to Emily on their date that he found the film disturbing – she admits that she’s turned on by movies like that, and he’s not disturbed by that…
I like this season’s treatment of Sheldon – I like that his life and his work has become unmoored and he’s on a journey of sorts. It’s great to see Sheldon vulnerable and unsure about where his life is heading. Jim Parsons is a wonderful actor, but I felt that he was coasting a bit, at this point: after all, playing Sheldon for seven years, he can do his schtick, blindfolded – but this more challenging story line really allows for the comic actor to do more.
Some great random points:
- Sheldon” eating at an unfamiliar restaurant on “Anything Can Happen Thursday” will just turn into a “It Won’t Stop Coming Out Friday”
- Sheldon on his Asian fusion meal: “I don’t understand my food”
- Sheldon on the Oreo: it’s the only cookie “with something in the middle that solves life’s problems”
- Penny has never paid for a meal…with money.
- To apologize, Bernadette puts on a Catholic schoolgirl outfit.
- If Amy tried that, all that would happen is he’d give her homework.
- This episode highlights two of the closest friendships: Howard and Raj and Penny and Sheldon, but things are really tense between the gang – particularly between Penny and the girls.
- Again, was I the only one who thought it gross that Emily was turned on by The House of 1,000 Corpses?