TV Review: The Big Bang Theory (8×12) – “The Space Probe Disintegration”

The Big Bang is back! After a short hiatus, this is just the episode we needed to quench our theory thirst. This episode is all about compromise. Duos Sheldon and Leonard as well as the pair of Penny and Amy learn that friendship is not just doing what one person wants. It’s about compromising, and occasionally doing what your other half wants, or in Leonard’s case with Sheldon, doing what Sheldon wants most of the time. We also see the other show’s twosome, Raj and Howard, delve into a deeper subject that the show hasn’t addressed until now: the relationship between religion and science. It was the perfect blend of humor and heart, and like all things in life, we begin with a Risk.

The episode opens with roommates Sheldon and Leonard about to begin their quest through middle earth with their game of Lord of the Rings Risk. It’s another game night, but this time game night began 8 hours earlier. They’re making game night game day, and the girls are fed up that they always have to endure what the guys consider is ‘fun.’ Therefore, they’re going to shake things up. This time everyone is going to do something that the girls enjoy, and the guys hate. Horseback riding is out because Amy’s hips only open 22 degrees; ice-skating is also a no-go due to her brittle ankles. Sheldon finally suggests a simple solution: shopping. The girls can shop for hours while he and Leonard sit in those uncomfortable chairs holding their purses. He hates the thought of doing that, but the girls were trying to solve the issue of making plans, and he’s a problem solver. It’s just what he does.

At the store, Leonard and Sheldon are looking as miserable as ever, and unfortunately for them there’s no Wi-Fi at the store, but Sheldon wisely notes that there wasn’t always a smartphone at hand. People used to do other activities to pass the time. Now, to just look up what those activities were… son of a biscuit! First, Sheldon has to endure facing the lingerie section, and now no Wi-Fi! They eventually end up playing what they always intended for that day minus the actual physical game: Lord of the Rings Risk.

After some imaginary risky plays, Leonard remarks how well Sheldon has been handling their trip to the mall, and compromising with the girls. Surprised, Sheldon lets out—what should be obvious knowledge—to Leonard that of course he knows how to compromise. He’s had to constantly compromise for the past couple of years living with Leonard. His idea of compromise, however, is skewed. His examples of compromise don’t exactly help his case. Leonard having a piece of lettuce stuck in his teeth while Sheldon keeps his mouth shut does not count as a settlement, but Sheldon’s firm belief in it gives us our weekly dose of Sheldon humor. It is this very naiveté and sensitiveness that makes us sympathetic towards Sheldon, and so Leonard’s subsequent angry burst makes us feel for Sheldon’s case. Leonard states that he isn’t allowed to adjust the temperature in his own home, or wear shoes that might squeak, or even whistle. Most importantly and most upsetting to Sheldon, is that he doesn’t live with the woman he loves because of his own compromise with Sheldon.

Sheldon then fires back that Leonard is mean to him. He’s always rolling his eyes at him, even when he thinks he can’t see (which he can because he has superb peripheral vision), and eventually Sheldon lets out his true feelings: he’s just upset at the thought of his best friend leaving him. However, he agrees to a new living arrangement if that’s what Leonard truly wants. He then acknowledges how hard he is to put up with, and thanks Leonard for doing it for so many years. (Cue the tears!) Finally, they come up with an actual compromise: Leonard will gradually move out of the apartment. He suggests two nights a week living with Penny. Sheldon, not being able to fully comply, then proposes one night a week and letting Leonard whistle… but only when Sheldon isn’t home. That’s a win in Leonard’s eyes, so he takes it.

Meanwhile, at Bernadette and Howard’s place, Raj feels like he’s going to jump out of his skin. He’s worried about the New Horizons Space Probe. Nine years ago he was part of a team that launched a spacecraft to collect data about Pluto, and it finally turned on. And as the title of the episode suggests, he’s worried about the disintegration of said probe. He still doesn’t know if it’s in working condition, or if it was demolished by space ice. He has to wait a grueling two hours before he knows the verdict, so naturally, he’s in full-on panic mode. Howard suggests doing something more productive, so he resorts to playing basketball with a water bottle and the trash bin. If he makes it, the probe would have landed in perfect condition. He’s putting his faith on his athletic prowess, or lack thereof, as Howard states. Still, he scores! All is well according to Howard. Not quite! Every scientist knows it’s obviously two out of three that counts.


Eventually, Raj just needs to get out, and he goes to a place that brings him comfort in times of stress: The Hindu Temple. Like Howard, the audience has never seen this side of Raj. A religious, contemplative side. It is here that the writers touch upon the relationship between science and religion. There are jokes about Indiana Jones and The Simpsons, but in the end, it’s a nice moment where one of the show’s characters reveals a more intimate side of himself. Although Raj is a man of science, a man who works with the truth of facts, he also takes comfort in knowing that we’re all part of something bigger, “an immense pattern,” and that everything will work out. He’s finally relaxing until… his car gets dinged by an elderly man. He has a meltdown once again, where he curses everything, including the man who gave his dog bangs! Fortunately, just at that moment, he is notified that everything will be okay because his space probe is in perfect condition. Phew!

Finally, the last duo of the episode, Penny and Amy, also have a moment. Earlier, while trying to figure out the day’s plans, Leonard had commented that Penny does the same thing to Amy as the boys do to them. She makes Amy do whatever she wants with no regard to Amy’s own interests. It’s been nagging at her, so she decides that that night they’ll do whatever Amy wants, which means it’s basket weaving at the craft museum! Everyone is happily making baskets, while Sheldon crafts a soldier’s hat from 16th century China. Typical.



Best Bazingas!

“You know, they really have tried to like a lot of the same stuff we’re into.”—Leonard

“Yeah, we do game nights and video game nights, and we watch movies with director’s commentary.”—Penny

“Oh, my favorite—George Lucas can talk all the way through Star Wars, I say one word, and I’m banished to the kitchen.”—Amy 


“Space ice is no joke. I can’t even watch Frozen anymore.”—Raj

“This isn’t so bad.”—Leonard

“That’s easy for you to say. Your chair’s not facing the lingerie section. Boy, that’s a lot of panties.”—Sheldon

“If it’s okay with you, I’d like to go to temple.”—Raj

“Buddy, trust me, you don’t want to convert to Judaism. I mean, I know I make it look cool… but it’s not all briskets and dreidels.”—Howard

“Really, I’m lucky you found me before a cult did.”—Amy

“I have excellent peripheral vision. On a good day, I can see my ears.”—Sheldon

“The guy who cuts my dog’s hair just gave her bangs! You saw her. She looks like Jim Carrey from Dumb and Dumber!”—Raj



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