As a journalist, one of the first things you learn is to always be objective. The second thing you learn is that complete objectivity is impossible. I liked this episode of The Big Bang Theory, but I love episodes that focus on Howard (Simon Helberg), Raj (Kunal Nayyar), and assorted side characters.
What I don’t like are episodes that focus on the Will They Or Won’t They Penny (Kaley Cuoco) and Leonard (Johnny Galecki) relationship. “The Engagement Reaction” was blessedly light on this aspect, and it also served to make Leonard’s current girlfriend, Priya (Aarti Mann), a much more sympathetic character.
While last week‘s engagement came as a surprise, this week’s denouement reaction made the storyline feel whole. I’m excited to see what happens in the next episode, which is exactly the feeling needed before a season finale.
We start with the usual gang + Priya, at the Cheesecake Factory. Penny and Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) gossip about Priya a bit. Sheldon accidentally drinks from Leonard’s water glass and goes into hysterics over the germs he has just unwittingly ingested. I find that the writers often exaggerate Sheldon’s little quirks only when it suits the plot. For example, we all knew Sheldon was a germaphobe, but suddenly it becomes a Big Deal in this episode for the sake of a few jokes involving hazmat suits.
Bernadette has lunch with Howard’s mom, after which she suddenly falls unconscious just after Howard tells her about the engagement. The gang rushes to the hospital (after a cute moment in the laundry room when Penny notes that she misses Sheldon’s “jibber jabber”).
At the hospital, Howard assumes that hearing the engagement news drove his mother into a heart attack. Bernadette is understandably upset. Meanwhile, Penny and Priya have a few fairly pleasant conversations, mostly about Leonard, the self-proclaimed “King of Foreplay.” Raj needles Leonard about what is probably being said, and Sheldon has his own adventure trying to avoid germs but inevitably landing himself in a quarantine.
All in all, the episode is funny and well-paced. We get character development in Penny, Priya, and the Howard/Bernadette relationship. We also get plot movement. And Raj gets a lot of actually funny lines. It’s as if The Big Bang Theory writers realized that they had been short shrifting the Howard and Raj all season long and decided to make up for it in one episode.
Hey, I’m not complaining.