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Worldly Distractions: The Big Bang Theory 6.21 - The Closure Alternative





After a long hiatus, we are back with our favourite gang of nerds. Sorry for the delay (but in the meantime I finished undergrad – in your face, academia!), and I will keep on schedule as much as possible for the rest of the TV season. Let’s see what Sheldon and his friends have been up to since we saw them last.

Thanks to a blip in scheduling, Sheldon thinks there’s something wrong with the DVR. First he accuses Penny of recording her (presumably terrible) television on the sly. He gets nothing- though as she whispers to Leonard, she’s just covering up because she can’t afford another demerit on Sheldon’s weird system. Leonard suggests that China has been hacking the DVR. Sheldon thinks it’s preposterous and is about to delete the movie in question when Leonard suggests that he free up space by removing some of his old episodes instead. Sheldon won’t hear of it, despite having watched them many times. He explains that he has to review the Season 2 finale of “Alphas†before Season 3 starts. Leonard tells him that there is no Season 3, the show was cancelled.

Waiiiit a minute. No way does Sheldon not know this already. The Internet exists, and if he liked the show so much he would have been following its renewal process all along. Come on, guys.

Okay, let’s pretend he doesn’t know anyway. Jeez. Anyway, Leonard breaks the news in what must be the least tactful way possible. Like, if they cancelled Mad Men and someone told me like that I’d probably cry like a baby. Sheldon comes close, stammering and getting the wounded puppy look on his face. He can’t believe they cancelled on a cliffhanger. He’s too upset to eat. His world has been overturned. Penny is unsympathetic. She proposes that he write fanfiction, which Sheldon thinks is a terrible idea. Within seconds he is on the phone to the SyFy channel, citing shows who weaned their viewers off in various ways (Firefly had a movie, Heroes declined in quality until viewers were happy to see it end). Penny quips that she feels bad for whoever’s on the other end of the phone, and Leonard points out that if they didn’t want to be attacked by nerds they should never have started a sci-fi channel. The opening credits come up.

Howard is installing a security system in Raj’s apartment. He waxes eloquent about all the technological innovations involved, but Raj is mostly interested on spying on his Yorkie from work. (Don’t worry Raj, you are far from the only one who would do the same thing.) Howard naturally thinks that’s weird, but they are interrupted when Raj discovers his girlfriend’s blog. Remember Lucy? The shy one? Yep, apparently she’s strange online too. He is enraged that she went on a date with another Indian astrophysicist named “Rogerâ€. Howard corrects his assumption and says it’s obviously a pseudonym. Raj says his “white name†would have been Gavin, which is honestly pretty perfect for him. Regardless, “Roger†and Lucy have been detailed all over the blog. Raj feels weird about reading it, because it’s essentially like reading her diary, but Howard insists that he keep reading since it’s there. Hey, don’t we get into this exact discussion on FJ about eight times a day?

In the end, Raj does not read it, deeming the act creepy. Howard notes that it’s no creepier than using his new security system to spy on his pet. Raj’s response is to cuddle the Yorkie and make cooing noises while the dog licks his face. Howard gets the “Wha...?†look on his face. He wonders if he should leave. Aaaand Raj needs a hobby, fast.

Leonard knocks on Penny’s door with an exciting idea – even better than his Star Wars coffee shop, Brewbaccas! He wants to get into a TV series with Penny, and thinks that Buffy the Vampire Slayer is an excellent choice. Well done, Leonard, there is no time when Buffy isn’t a good choice – except for 6:30 AM, which it unfortunately is. Penny closes the door in his face, despite his protests that she grew up on a farm and should be used to this.

Meanwhile, Sheldon is on the phone to the SyFy network, impersonating the vice-president of programming in order to uncancel his show. He doesn’t get far, mostly because he knows way too much about “the person who just calledâ€. When he is inevitably hung up on, he complains to Amy. Her suggestion is to seek comfort in physical contact. She leans in for a kiss. Sheldon says he can’t fly to Texas just for a hug from his mom. Oh, Horny Amy, will you ever get the memo?

She takes a different tack, suggesting that Sheldon has “a pathological need for closureâ€. He is skeptical. She proposes a new neurological process which retrains your brain, essentially, to care less. Sheldon insists that he doesn’t have a problem with closure. In response, she knocks on the table. He is silent. He fidgets. His eyes twitch. Finally, he gives in and knocks back, all while protesting that it means nothing.

At CalTech, Howard goes to collect Raj for lunch. Raj asks if he thinks he’s feminine, to which Howard says “yes†without hesitation. Real compassionate there, buddy. After some coaxing, Raj admits he read Lucy’s blog and that she noted he seemed a little feminine. Howard thinks that’s progress (“a littleâ€), so problem’s solved. Raj feels he has to talk it out with her, but is immediately dissuaded by Howard, who insists that he use it to his own advantage. I can see this going wrong approximately six hundred ways, but that’s the beauty of this show. Per Howard’s logic, it’s unfair that hot girls don’t like nerdy guys, so Raj is free to do something unfair in return. Really, Howard? Surely your mom was fond of the phrase “two wrongs don’t make a right.†Raj agrees to do it, but chooses to view it in a more romantic manner than just getting her into bed (which is of course Howard’s perspective of the situation). In doing so, he quotes “a man who knows a thing or two about women – Sir Elton Johnâ€. To be fair, Elton John probably knows a lot more about women than we do just by virtue of having lived through the 1970’s. Free love, y’all. Still, Howard is incredulous.

Penny and Leonard watch Buffy on the couch at her apartment. Leonard’s just as into it as he presumably was in the 90’s. Penny’s opinion? “It was cute.†NOOOOO Penny how can you not love Buffy? She’s awesome! Leonard’s poor tiny heart is crushed into a million pieces. With a sigh, he decides to turn to some other show. Penny feels bad, but is also annoyed with him for behaving like such a jackass just because she didn’t adore something. We know Leonard is insufferable, writers, let’s move on. Penny gives in and turns on the next episode, commenting that it’s just like her high school if you substituted the vampires with meth heads, and instead of a curse all the cheerleaders suffered from crabs. They begin.

Amy has come up with a group of exercises to retrain Sheldon to accept lack of closure. Nice physical comedy from Mayim Bialik there. That’s it, Amy, win him over with science. Her complex technique? A game of tic-tac-toe. Sheldon dismisses this, saying that tic-tac-toe can only end in win, lose or draw, all of which provide closure – until Amy erases the game from the board entirely without conclusion. Sheldon is flummoxed. He goes into a tirade, which Amy says is what they’re seeking to remove. He claims she has no idea what it’s like to have built-up desire with no opportunity for release. Uh-oh. He earns a Look and a snarky remark for his efforts.

Penny has enlisted Bernadette to teach her about Buffy’s appeal. I’m still shocked she doesn’t like it, but no matter. Bernadette loves the show and suggests that part of the appeal is the reversed gender roles. This does not resonate with Penny. She continues to say that she can’t understand why Leonard gets so passionate about things – she’s just not like that. Bernadette talks of her own passion for science, and the God-like powers microbes inspire in her. Penny thinks maybe something’s wrong with her, but Bernadette says the passion is there, it just has to be applied to the right thing. They get down to business.

Lucy’s coming over, and Raj quickly Skypes Howard seeking advice. His suggestion is to triple how long foreplay lasts, no matter how long he thinks it should be in the first place. Raj is disgusted and asks what’s manlier, a football jersey or a hockey jersey. Come on, hockey, it’s obvious. We’re more violent and awesome than football, and on ice to boot!  Howard wisely chooses hockey, though he thinks the whole endeavour is stupid. Raj agrees because “black is more slimmingâ€, then tells his friend he has to “go off and be butchâ€. Oh, boy.

When Lucy arrives, she immediately makes a beeline for the Yorkie, exclaiming on how cute it is. Raj claims an obscure German command will turn her into an attack dog. She gives him a quizzical look. And so it begins.

Sheldon stands, hand on heart, while Amy plays “The Star-Spangled Banner†on the keyboard, stopping just before the final note and driving him batty. She moves on to the next song.

Sheldon has built an enormous domino configuration on the floor. Amy approaches. DANGER! DANGER! Instead of knocking it over, however, she does something arguably worse – before he can finish the design, she wants to box it up. His frustration builds.

Amy hands him a jack-in-the-box, and he winds it. Just as it is about to burst, she snatches it from his hands. Sheldon goes into a Hulk-style rage and fights her for it. She still wins, but at what cost? The dangerous look in his eyes is quite the warning.

Just as Sheldon is about to blow out candles on a cake, Amy covers the last one with a paper plate. One candle remains, forfeiting his wish – which is lucky, because at that point he was wishing for Amy’s death. I never knew Jim Parsons had so many muscles in his face to twitch.

At dinner with Lucy, Raj tries to impress her with his great hockey fandom. Turns out Lucy was a big hockey fan as a kid. She asks him who his favourite player is. He stammers something about “Not Brian Boitano,†and changes the subject to their dinner- frozen burritos. Yum. Raj declares that he is a slave to no instructions. Lucy wonders why he’s acting so weird. He blames it on all the steroids he’s been taking. She makes a break for it. Run, Lucy, run! But just as she is about to step out, Raj comes clean about the blog. She’s surprised that he even managed to find it. He explains that he wanted to make a manly impression. Lucy immediately assures him that she meant feminine as a good thing – sweet, thoughtful, and skin like caramel? Casual racism aside, this is what gender roles do to us, people! If not for the patriarchy, how many people would forgo tragic involvement in hackneyed sitcom plots? I kid, I kid, but seriously, to any guys out there – give us you, not some preconceived notion of what manliness looks like. That’s what we want. Okay, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Anyway, they come to a consensus and Lucy forgives him for the weirdness. They return to dinner and appear to be having a better time than ever.

Penny and Leonard, meanwhile, are also enjoying dinner over at her apartment. She brings up how much he likes Buffy, science, etc. She concludes that even though she’s not passionate about stuff like he is, she’s instead passionate about him. With all of her hopes and dreams, Leonard is extraordinarily important to her, as are Sheldon and the rest of the group. At this point she breaks down in tears, and I almost do too. I’m leaving all my friends in a week, I can get teary over a sitcom, okay? Leonard loves her explanation, and excitedly asks if this means they can dress up and go to Comic-Con together. Her answer: “Leonard, I had an epiphany, not a stroke.†Ah well. One step at a time, kid.

Sheldon says goodbye to Amy at his door, and tells her that it was truly transformative even if it was frustrating. He calls her a great neuroscientist and girlfriend, and...never finishes the sentence. He gives a ridiculous grin to show he got the message. For a second I was wondering if Sheldon had been replaced by a body snatcher, but apparently not. She says she’s proud of him, and leaves. Sheldon closes the door and finishes his sentence... “And a complete sucker!†Within moments he is finishing all of their tasks, including the tic-tac-toe games, the birthday candles, the jack-in-the-box, and the national anthem complete with descant. When his domino sculpture finishes its collapse, he has what I’m pretty sure is the closest thing he’s ever had to an orgasm. Sheldon, don’t ever change.

Penny appears and tells Sheldon she’s glad to have him in her life. He mumbles that he loves her, too, in an extraordinarily postcoital manner. Turns out the only way to provoke a response from him is to deny him closure. Hmmmm.

We cut to Sheldon on the phone with the writer from “Alphasâ€. The guy is fortunately very nice, and at Sheldon’s request, tells him how he planned to finish it. Sheldon concludes that it was terrible and no wonder they got cancelled – and hangs up with another quasi-orgasmic sigh.

I liked that Raj actually got a storyline this week, and felt it played out well. Sheldon and Amy had the opportunity for various antics. Penny and Leonard’s story was not as developed, but had a very emotionally satisfying resolution (shut up, I’m a sentimental old thing). I would call this episode very enjoyable, to say the least. As Season 6 begins to wind up, I say The Big Bang Theory is different from what it was, but still strong in its own right.

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