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Worldly Distractions: The Big Bang Theory 8.21 - The Communication Deterioration





Sheldon has decided to write children's songs for the benefit of science ("and James Clark Maxwell was his name-o"). He wants to bring Beyonce in on the project, but unfortunately none of his friends know her. Raj has launched on a new project having to do with finding alien life. Leonard puts forth the idea that they've already found it, at their table. Raj enlists the help of his friends in finding a cross-galactic communication system. In the end, Leonard is chosen to join the team, because he's the only one who didn't insult Raj in the process. Opening credits.

Leonard comes over to help Raj on his alien communications device. They talk about how controlling their friends are. Raj wonders why they think they're in charge, and the two debate over which members of the group are alphas, betas and omegas. Once they get working on the project, they're unsure how to start, and discuss calling Howard or Sheldon for advice.

Penny shows up wearing the ugliest shirt you've ever seen. She knocks on the door Sheldon-style, which delights the scientist. However, Sheldon's interest wanes when he finds out that Penny wants to discuss her acting career. Should she go for a big audition, or continue on the safe road of pharmaceutical sales? Sheldon, having recently heard that he is too controlling, refuses to give an answer.

Howard makes "molecular cocktails", which Bernadette declines. It soon emerges that he is doing this fun activity without his bestie Raj, on purpose, because he feels slighted by being left out of the space project. He claims he has a dominant personality, but it's not his fault. An amused Bernadette can't get past the first point.

Penny keeps trying to trick Sheldon into giving her an answer, such as framing the question through trains. Sheldon finally admits that she should do the audition, but hold off on a decision until she knows what's coming next. He wonders why she didn't ask Leonard, to which Penny replies that he would have dismissed the idea immediately. To me, that says a lot.

Leonard and Raj debate the alien's hypothetical capabilities, which soon devolves into a discussion of how much E.T. made them cry. They hit on the idea of animals communicating in different ways, which means they need to communicate a multi-sensory approach. They settle on a tactile medium using a 3-D communication system. Then again, they realize that Sheldon and Howard had the same idea, which means a good concept is junked outright. Petty, guys.

Howard and Sheldon discuss Sheldon's new line of children's songs, which remain terrible. A shamefaced Raj and Leonard show up and ask their friends to join the project. After making their friends eat crow for a while, they happily join in.

Penny prepares for her audition, only to see two dozen other identical blondes waiting to go first. The group discusses alien communication, which is really about their communication (and also pizza). Eventually, they agree on a medium for the message, but can't figure out what the message is (insert Marshall MacLuhan joke here). Raj suggests they be passive-aggressive, which leads to an argument about how they are all passive-aggressive. Old slights and hurts from the past few seasons are brought up, which is a nice trip down memory lane if nothing else. Sheldon determines that he should be perpetually in charge, something his friends do not take kindly to.

Penny runs into some old acting friends, who are impressed by her new career and getting tired of the pitfalls of showbiz. Afterwards, she recounts to Amy and Bernadette how much she appreciates her current job. (She still did the audition, though.) She thanks Bernadette for getting her the job, which her two friends somehow manage to spin into a thank-you dinner on Penny's dime. Some friends.

Tag scene - Aliens watch Sheldon's communication. They get the message, all right - and are terribly interested in eating him.

This episode had an interesting concept going on - exploring the group dynamics at play - but I'm not sure it was terribly well executed. It was way too literally put, tbh, and could have been examined in a more nuanced manner than "He's dominant we're not herp derp". It was also an episode fairly low on laughs. All the same, I did enjoy the interplay with alien communication, and Penny's sudden backtracking and subsequent epiphany. We also did get an examination of Leonard/Raj, something which is rare on this show. So it wasn't bad, per se - it just could have played with it more. As episodes go, that's not a bad place to end up. Keep watching the skies!

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