The Big Bang Theory 8.16: “The Intimacy Acceleration” Review

NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of The Big Bang Theory, including a major character death, are present in this review


After having to insert the death of Mrs. Wolowitz into proceedings last week, somewhat abruptly, “The Intimacy Acceleration” delivered a story with a far better sense of flow throughout. One arc pretty much overshadowed the rest, but it was still a reasonably good episode overall.

The title of the episode is a reference to the group attempting an experiment that is said to allow two people to fall in love with each other. Penny and Sheldon are chosen as the subjects, since they are least likely to fall in love, and while Leonard and Amy initially attempt the experiment as well, they quickly give up on it. Sadly, this felt like a missed opportunity, since a contrast between Leonard/Amy and Penny/Sheldon would have made for a pretty noteworthy episode.

BBT - Footage 1

Making this hurt all the more is that Leonard and Amy end up being roped into a subplot with Raj and Emily (hey, Emily’s back!) that is, frankly, kind of weak. There were some decent jokes here and there, but this arc basically just ended up eating up runtime for the most part, and that’s a shame. The whole story is just them participating in an escape-the-room puzzle. That’s it. Then they get out disappointingly quickly, and can’t get a refund. That’s it. Pretty underwhelming.

Fortunately, the arc with Penny and Sheldon really helped to pick up the slack, and it was this arc that carried the entire episode effortlessly. Despite Sheldon’s snippy commentary about the experiment, Penny and Sheldon do end up accidentally bonding over the questions, even when they appear to botch them, or feel that certain questions are beneath them. Penny obviously didn’t fall in love with Sheldon, or vice-versa, but they definitely became closer as characters, and gained a greater understanding and appreciation for one another. It was a very awesome thing to watch, and really defined the episode quite nicely.

The remaining subplot involved Howard and Bernadette coming back from the funeral of Mrs. Wolowitz, which is, somewhat disappointingly, something that happened entirely off-screen. Naturally, the airplane has misplaced the luggage that contains Mrs. Wolowitz’s ashes, leaving Howard and Bernadette to harass a kindly luggage attendant lady.

The Intimacy Acceleration

Howard and Bernadette were almost in danger of coming off as a little mean here, as understandable as it is that the urn containing Howard’s mother’s remains was lost, but thankfully, the solid jokes helped to compensate for this. The token offering of enough Air Miles to get the two to Sacramento was pretty funny, as was Bernadette loudly declaring that the lady had better find the urn, because no matter what happens, she and her husband are leaving the airport with a dead woman.

It was also good to see Howard voicing more of his grief over the loss of his mother. We already had a great farewell for Mrs. Wolowitz during the previous episode, but naturally, the loss of his mother isn’t something that Howard is just going to readily shake off like it’s nothing. His interactions with Bernadette were sweet, even if they led to more harassing of that poor attendant. Again though, there were some good jokes here, with a highlight being when Bernadette laments aloud that the urn is going to be in her bedroom after it’s finally found.

BBT - Footage 3

It was Sheldon and Penny that stole the show this week though, delivering the perfect mix of comedy and heart with their bizarre social experiment. There might have been some missed opportunities in this episode, but it’s always nice to see Sheldon and Penny bond for a change, especially considering that Sheldon will soon have to give up his roommate to Penny.

While suffering from some missed opportunities with the rest of the group, "The Intimacy Acceleration" was carried well by Sheldon and Penny, even if Howard and Bernadette also got some laughs when Mrs. Wolowitz's remains were misplaced.
Sheldon and Penny's heartfelt bonding
Howard and Bernadette's subplot was funny
The show featured Emily for a change
Not having Leonard and Amy do the experiment properly was disappointing
The entire escape-the-room arc was dull and predictable