In this week’s episode of The Big Bang Theory, we see relationships galore. As always, Penny and Leonard’s dysfunctional relationship, Bernadette and Howard’s unequal partnership, and Raj and Sheldon’s bromance. I honestly love watching this show. Everything about it is cozy. The sets, the jokes, Sheldon. It is all close to perfection each week, but lately, there is one aspect of the show that is tiring and redundant: Penny and Leonard’s “relationship.”
This week their quarrel began over Penny selling the car Leonard got for her without discussing it with him first. Her new job as a pharmaceutical rep comes with all kinds of perks, including a company car, so her viewpoint is that there’s no need for two. Leonard is understandably hurt over this since the car was a gift, a nice gesture from him to her. Also, the fact that she didn’t discuss it with him first is upsetting since they are, after all, engaged, and should discuss big financial moves together. Hurting him even more, she hands him an envelope with the money she got from selling the car. You’d think this would be a further snag in the relationship, and you’d be right, but apparently a framed picture of them in the car with puffy paint around it is enough to settle the dispute of the car.
The fight, however, continues. Penny is now financially independent, and wants to make it a point that she no longer has to rely on him. They go back and forth until eventually Leonard offers the solution of putting the money into a joint account, their first joint venture to prepare for the rest of their shared lives. The problem is all but solved, that is until they start naming each other’s shortcomings in the relationship. She claims he’s only acting this way because she no longer has to rely on him, while he argues that she’s only acting this way because of her control issues. In order to once and for all settle their spat, they decide to turn to Howard and Bernadette, who are seemingly experts at couples’ disputes.
Turns out, the experts were no help because they have a couple of deep-rooted financial issues of their own. Bernadette’s higher salary is a sore spot for Howard, and so is the fact that she gives him an allowance, or as he likes to call it, a stipend, for his work around the house. She even has a sticker chart for him!
In the end, Leonard assures Penny that he’s definitely okay with her not being financially dependent on him anymore, and he’s also okay if she ends up making more money than him because he grew up in a household where his mother emasculated his father financially, and also in every other aspect, so to him that’s what love looks like.
Meanwhile, a couple of feet underground (not really), Sheldon and Raj are recreating a simulated environment that is similar to a salt mine. They found that the government recently funded an experiment in abandoned salt mines for the study of dark matter. So in order for them to see if they can survive the conditions down there, they recreate the same setting in the University’s steam tunnels. They need to become accustomed to humidity temperatures that are over 100 degrees, 12 hour long shifts, dynamite explosions, and most importantly, using a bucket as the toilet. Their time underground gives way to some awesome bro bonding time that consists of singing gloomy mining songs, chatting about the two lives of Hanna Montana, Funyuns, and a heartwarming moment where Raj comforts Sheldon about the uncertainty of future endeavors. It’s all very touching, until Rats! Rats show up in the tunnel, and just like that, the simulation is over.
Aside from the redundancy in Penny and Leonard’s faulty relationship, and the awkward maternal affection Bernadette has with Howard, this episode was enjoyable mostly because of Raj and Sheldon’s bonding time in the steam tunnels.
“Speaking of new careers, how are things going with dark matter, Sheldon?”—Bernadette
“Oh, yeah, I’d have to say it’s the most exciting time in the history of the field.”—Sheldon
“What’s going on?”—Bernadette
“I started doing it.”—Sheldon
“Are they making fun of us?”—Sheldon
“I miss the old days when I couldn’t tell.”—Sheldon
“Well, I’ll just Google ‘hot, dark, and moist’ and see what comes up.”—Sheldon
“I’m always busy. This mind is capable of advanced multitasking. Currently, I’m attempting to solve the Penrose Conjecture, I’m composing my Nobel acceptance speech for when I solve the Penrose Conjecture, and I’m wondering how mermaids have babies.” —Sheldon
“Don’t they lay eggs on a rock?” —Raj
“[Pause] Now I’ve got room for another thing.” —Sheldon
“If we run into any trouble, I’ll contact you. And if anything bad happens, what’s the rule?”—Sheldon
“Save you first. Come back for Raj. Only if there’s time.”—Amy
“Sheldon’s Mine Simulation Log, entry one. Koothrapali’s restating of the obvious is already getting on my nerves.”—Sheldon
“Okay, how about a little Miley Cyrus next?”—Raj
EPISODE RATING: 7/10