To be honest, after the first few minutes of this episode I worried that the show had lost whatever momentum they had been building the past two weeks, but by episode’s end, things really turned around for me. Burt is an amazing character and I love his interactions with the cast, and I am perfectly ok with the use of guest stars and the extended cast of the series to liven up stories as the main characters for the most part are pretty settled, and characters like Burt still have a lot of room to grow and develop on the show, especially in how they deal with Sheldon.
Jumping in, the main story of the night is launched when Burt approaches Sheldon for help with a research project, which Sheldon initially turns down as he does not want to hurt his reputation by being seen working with a geologist. However, in secret, he heads over to Burt’s office and they dive into the new project, with Sheldon going to great lengths to hide his new work from his friends, even his fiance Amy, who almost catches him when she surprises him with dinner one night. Eventually, Sheldon confesses what he is doing to Penny, who he feels comfortable confiding in because of her own “checkered past” and ability to hold her head up high despite her reputation (a fact that he explains to her and she does not entirely appreciate). Eventually Burt figures out that Sheldon is ashamed of him and his work and they part ways, but Sheldon feels awful about what happened and goes home and tells Amy all about it. She reminds him that he usually does not care what people think, even when he really should (such as using “your mama” jokes when meeting Amy’s parents), and Sheldon decides he still wants to work with Burt. Sadly for him, Leonard has jumped at the chance to work with Burt, especially admiring the man’s ability to successfully say “no” to Sheldon, nodding in approval when Burt turns down Sheldon’s request to rejoin the research and closes the door in Sheldon’s face.
Meanwhile, as Howard deals with Bernadette slowly turning into his mother while she is stuck on bedrest (an amazing call-back joke that was very well executed), Raj runs into Bernie’s co-worker Ruchi at a bar while watching a cricket game, bonding since she is the only person he knows who appreciates the sport. They hit it off and have a night together, but she tells him she wants to keep it casual, which everyone knows Raj will have a hard time with, even though Raj insists he can do it. He goes to Penny for advice and she laughs in his face, eventually telling him to stab himself with a fork every time he pictures a wedding or babies as his best choice of action. He goes on another date with Ruchi and discovers they have little to nothing else in common, as Ruchi does not even believe in soulmates or true love, and Raj knows she is not a woman he will be able to spent the rest of his life with. As he contemplates what to do while talking to Bernie and Howard, they quickly realize that Raj has an amazing situation for now, a woman only interested in sex, and wait for Raj to clue in to what he has. Eventually, he does, and runs out of the room for another night with Ruchi.
The episode ends with the gang back in the cafeteria discussing Raj’s recent hook-up with Ruchi, Raj amazed that he does not have to be affectionate at all, or ask whether she enjoyed the sex or noticed his tears afterwards (both of which Howard says he knows the answers to), while Sheldon stares longingly at Burt in the distance, regretting his actions.
QUOTES OF THE NIGHT:
SHELDON: (on the phone with Amy) For future reference, the best surprises are the ones I know about 3 days in advance.
AMY: Where are you?
SHELDON: It’s a surprise! Doesn’t feel so good! Does it!?
SHELDON:I need to talk to Penny, alone.
LEONARD: (mocking Penny as he leaves the room) Ha ha.
PENNY: This is about science, why did you come to me?
SHELDON: Well, because it’s also about my reputation. And somehow you manage to hold your head high despite your checkered past.
PENNY: Checkered past?
SHELDON: It’s a figure of speech referring to how sexually promiscuous you were.
PENNY: Really? Well I have a figure of speech about how sexually promiscuous you can go be with yourself.
LEONARD: How’s Bernadette handling bed rest?
HOWARD: She lies around all day eating malamars and hollering at me, so her transformation from my wife to my mother is complete.
SHELDON: (in all seriousness) Congratulations. I know that’s what you were hoping for.
I think the show is doing a lot better now that they are, as stated above, pulling in more characters to help get more story material, and in a way, going more back to their roots. More stories are being placed back at the university, more scenes at the cafeteria, etc. That was always the heart of the show, and while their social lives with their wives and girlfriends have some great comedy, the show is about these guys being nerdy scientists after all, so it is nice to see them back in their element. I just hope they manage to keep up this hot streak. Only a few more weeks until the winter hiatus!