Well, here we are at episode 20 of the final season of ‘The Big Bang Theory,’ and though it mildly looked like the show was trying tonight, sadly there just was not that much to be excited about in tonight’s episode. Though they did manage to remind viewers that the characters were nerds by a number of ‘Avengers’ references (since ‘Endgame‘ premiered last night), gone are the days when the series could do something funny and organic with a pop-culture moment like that (I’m thinking of when ‘The Force Awakens‘ premiered and they had a great episode all about it), and instead we simply got the movie referenced and a middling running joke from Sheldon about different things Hulk could be made of.
The main story revolved around Leonard realizing that he is too much of a pushover and needing to be more assertive, something that dawns on him when he allows everyone to talk him into a 3D showing of ‘Avengers’ even though it makes him nauseous (though as someone who thinks 3D is a waste of time, I concur that 3D showings also make me sick). Sheldon points out that Leonard has always been a pushover, and that he enjoys that aspect of him. Penny encourages Leonard to make a change, which is exhausting to Leonard as Penny pushes him to make every decision from that point on, and is disappointed when she thinks he is doing things just to make her happy. Eventually, Leonard gets a pep-talk from Amy, who reminds him of when he was going after Penny and did not care what anyone else thought or wanted (ah, the golden days of the series when people had real conflicts and things to do), and Leonard finds his backbone.
The episode then proceeds to run through a series of gags where Sheldon is tortured by the newly strong Leonard, as his seat is taken by Leonard (who rightfully says it is his house now and he can sit where he wants), his route to work is changed, and even Chinese food night is altered because Leonard feels more like BBQ. Sheldon eventually comes around, though he is nervous about Leonard going to ask for a promotion and a new position as head of a new project at work, as Sheldon does not think Leonard is likely to get it. His plan of quitting if he does not get what he wants has Sheldon worried.
He eventually shares his concerns with Leonard who thinks Sheldon is still unhappy with his new backbone, though Penny soon learns of Leonard’s plan and is worried about his ideas about finding work anywhere else in the world if his job is lost. In the end, Leonard does not get the title he wanted, but the university does not want to lose him so he gets another position instead which he is also happy with.
In the B-Story of the night, we follow Raj as he shows Anu his lab and his telescope. During their discussion, he points out that a new item he has seen has the potential to be alien life, which Anu finds fascinating. Raj brings up the idea again during one of his lectures at the observatory and the discussion gets away from him. He suddenly finds himself labeled as a conspiracy theorist in the scientific community, being ridiculed as a radical who believes in aliens. When he makes another lecture and encourages people to open their minds and that science is all about the possibilities out there, all anyone remembers from the speech is a reference he makes to the Loch Ness Monster, and he is then dubbed as the scientist who believes in old Nessy, much to his chagrin.
QUOTES OF THE NIGHT:
AMY: (giving Leonard a pep-talk) Look, when you wanted Penny, you didn’t care what anybody else thought or wanted…. including Penny.
SHELDON: That’s one of the things I love best about you…that and those notes you leave in my lunch.
AMY: I leave those!
SHELDON: Well that’s disappointing. I already know that you heart me, now I don’t know if Leonard does.
SHELDON: Have you ever wondered what the Hulk would be like if he were made of Sherbert?
LEONARD: I give up.
While it is an interesting premise to see some personal growth for Leonard, it is a bit too late in the game to see a complete change in his character, especially when we know it is not all that likely to make that much of a difference since the series only has a few episodes left. The whole plot felt very contrived, just another way to get Sheldon rattled up and uncomfortable, only we have seen this schtick over and over again on the series, and frankly are expecting better so close to the end. The Raj story was mediocre at best, proving yet again that the writers have no idea what to do with Raj. At least he is still seeing Anu, though I personally think they lost a great opportunity by not having her come out and propose to him when he was asking the crowd for questions, as that felt like a great moment to do it, especially since they had just had that great moment in the lab the scene before. But that seems to be what the show is all about now in its final days, missed opportunities. The end cannot come soon enough. But at least we have ‘Avengers: End Game’ this week, which (no spoilers!) is worth every penny you spend on your ticket (3D or not).