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Worldly Distractions: The Big Bang Theory 8.5 - The Focus Attenuation




Hey guys! It's Canadian Thanksgiving, and I'm happy to take a break from crazy relatives and recap some crazy nerds instead. Will Sheldon be insufferable? Will Howard secretly be more awesome than everyone else? And most importantly, will Penny finally drink her weight in white wine? Onward, forth!

More scientific chat over lunch. Leonard bemoans one of their failed scientific ideas - something about a walking cell phone charger - which Sheldon suggests he put aside in favour of that cursed thing known as romance. They all argue over whether romance is an obstacle to accomplishment or not. Sheldon maintains that girls are a constant distraction, citing Amy's "sexting", which reads somewhere along the lines of "Hi, how are you?". They decide to take a science retreat together, in order to jog their atrophied brains. However, Sheldon rejects all of their proposed locations based on horror movies. Opening credits.

Penny is delighted to send Leonard off on his science weekend, since this means that she, Amy and Bernadette can have a girls' weekend in Vegas. So...nothing constructive then? Just getting wasted? Righto. Emily is not invited, but has to work, so Raj is off the hook too. The guys get down to their world-changing discoveries, but at one point Howard mentions that he hasn't seen The Social Network, Sheldon remembers he has it on Blu-Ray, and, well, they get a little off track. Fortunately, Leonard manages to rope them back in. He looks up their previous ideas, most of which involve robot sex and originated with Howard. They decide to start from scratch again. Sheldon suggests that they take inspiration from some of his favourite sci-fi movies. Raj mentions that Back to the Future II takes place in 2015, so they should invent one of the futuristic items in the movie. This quickly devolves into a group viewing of Back to the Future II. Gotta start somewhere, I guess.

The girls are set up in a surprisingly luxurious Vegas hotel, where Penny quickly takes charge of the evening's activities (it involves vomit and a roulette wheel). Unfortunately, Penny's boss texts to tell her that an important project is coming up, so Penny is forced to bow out and prepare her work. Bernadette and Amy are left to their own devices, which should strike fear into the hearts of anyone living in the Vegas region.

Back to the Future II finishes, with the requisite group nitpick to go along with it. Instead of inventing the gadget that will make them millionaires, or creating a theory that will bring the Nobel Prize, they instead come up with new time travel-related headcanons/develop the ultimate guide to English tenses in the event of time travel. Honestly, I think there's more use out of what they did come up with, but this is why I don't have a Nobel. Yet.

Amy and Bernadette go out for oversized margaritas, leaving Penny alone to study for a change. Soon enough, they're wasted and quasi-lesbian. In an attempt to get the group to focus, Leonard moves them to the university, where they try to create their own hoverboard. However, their attention span continues to be non-existent. (Also, raise your hand if, during this episode or immediately after, you headed straight to Google to see if Austria really looks like a wiener.) Sheldon suggests behavioural modification, but this, too, is pointless, as it ends with a YouTube session, much like most socialization has ended in the past five years or so. Leonard wonders if punishment might keep them on track. Sheldon suggests medieval torture devices. I have to admit, it would make the show rather more interesting.

Bernadette and Amy return to the hotel room, wasted out of their minds, which disturbs an overworked Penny. The scene is an excellent showcase for Melissa Rauch, who usually isn't given much to do besides screech, and actually has some good one-liners here. You can even see Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting corpsing at one point. Penny turns down their offer of going to see some Australian male strippers, so Amy retaliates by stealing her notes. Fortunately, she's too drunk to get very far.

Meanwhile, back at the lab, the guys have devised a punishment for going off-topic - if they do so, they will have duct tape ripped from their arms, thus tragically losing a patch of arm hair. In practice, though, this just means that the guys rip each other's duct tape off willy-nilly. This leads to another tangent about the definition of "negative reinforcement", which leads to a group viewing of Ghostbusters, despite Leonard's protests. Oh well, they tried.

Amy and Bernadette enjoy the strip club. Penny would, too, if she ever removed her gaze from the laptop. The next morning, the two of them pay the price, while Penny is chirpy and alert. And thus our story has a happy ending.

Okay, it was goofy and not a lot happened. But for some crazy reason, it worked. Or at least, Plot A worked. The guys' attempts to pay attention were definitely more interesting than the girls' stereotypical Vegas weekend. Still, both stories gave the cast an ample chance to play off each other, which is where this show's strength lies. Sometimes, it's okay to just let a show be absurd for a while. But have they abandoned character development entirely? Tune in next week to find out.

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