It has taken them a while to notice, but Raj and Howard, who spent the last episode moving out then back in with his mother, finally do notice that Sheldon, fresh from defending Amy’s honour, excuses himself for 20 minutes a day between 2.45 and 3.15pm without telling anyone where he is going. Curious, and after confronting him about it, they pick the lock into the room where he spends that time to find the number ‘43’ written on a chalkboard.
Infuriated with being unable to grasp its relevance, they set up a camera in the room, only to have it turned into a video stream by Sheldon after he discovers it, scaring the two by pretending to be opening up wormholes into alternative dimensions. He gives them a big dressing down, and goes back to what he has been doing in there all along – playing keepy-up with a hacky sack.
Meanwhile, Leonard’s jealousy of Penny, and her classmate and project partner, Cole (Ryan Cartwright – The Grimleys, Freak Like Me, Bones) forces him to stalk Cole down the stairs and grill him with lots of questions. He ends up offloading his frustrations onto Sheldon’s assistant Alex, who reveals she has feelings for him but that he is too stupid to notice. Eventually, Leonard and Penny end up in a fight over the situation and it is revealed that Penny is in love with Leonard, but they both agree to not discuss it for fear of crying.
This episode is the reason we still love The Big Bang Theory: funny jokes about the lack of social awareness of the hyper-intelligent; finding something new and human about the cyborg-like Sheldon; relationships actually moving forward; and Raj becoming more and more conflicted as it goes on (case in point – ‘I would really like to get her out of those trousers. And into something more fashionable’). Sure the same jokes are being played, but now it is Leonard and not Sheldon who has the scary social unawareness (and if there is someone who watched this and didn’t scream out ‘she is talking about you, dumbass’ at the TV, we would like to hear from you). It is Penny who takes the emotional jumps forward; and, it is Howard and Raj who get stuck on a ridiculously pointless mathematical equation whilst Sheldon is trying to get some downtime.
Yes, the cast has both expanded and dilated, but this is cracking down to the true nature of what makes The Big Bang Theory so funny, and twisting it to have a new perspective on the same material. We like a lot, and cannot wait for the rest of the season to show.
You can catch ‘The Big Bang Theory’ on E4 at 830pm on Thursdays