NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of “The Big Bang Theory” are present in this review
The Big Bang Theory has had quite a lot of ups and downs in the back half of Season Nine, seemingly alternating between good episodes and disappointing episodes. Fortunately though, after last week’s episode was one of the better ones, this week’s episode, “The Big Bear Precipitation”, also proved to be a pretty strong offering, particularly in its relationship storylines for the Hofstadter and Wolowitz couples.
The main plot of the episode is a pretty inspired one, as the group has some fun with Sheldon trying out virtual reality on his new headset (not wasting any time capitalizing on the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive launches recently, are we, The Big Bang Theory?), then decides to spend a weekend at a cabin. Sheldon, naturally, is pretty adamant about not wanting to go, but when Amy suggests that a scientific theory about unplugging from technology means that Leonard may return smarter than him, Sheldon decides that he can’t allow that to happen.
Many of the Sheldon jokes were familiar this week, ranging from his contempt for people’s political beliefs and jobs, to his complaints about mosquitoes and ticks, but that’s fine, since the Sheldon humour offered plenty of laughs. Amy was a bit of a tag-along this week, but Mayim Bialik still managed some decent comedy herself here and there, even if Sheldon felt like the key source of humour from the main cabin storyline.
Sheldon also serves as a catalyst to this arc’s main conflict, as a drinking game gone awry has him blurting out that Leonard has been keeping a secret bank account from Penny, due to Penny being bad with money. Penny, of course, doesn’t take this news very well, and a subsequent confrontation with Leonard has her revealing that she hates her job, and is tired of flirting with doctors, both male and female, to sell medications. Despite that however, she doesn’t want to go back to waiting tables at the Cheesecake Factory and struggling to act, so she just feels like she has to press on and be a grown-up, in order to fix her debt. The two then make peace, even if there’s a slight unsettling air for later. Maybe this will be revisited in Season Ten later this year, since it’s kind of late in the game to explore it much now in Season Nine, but Penny mentioning hating her job is bound to come up again in the future.
As for this week’s subplot, it centered on the Wolowitz couple, as Howard continues his string of laziness and borderline neglect of Bernadette, while Raj picks up all of his duties in looking after Howard’s pregnant wife. Raj starts getting a little weird and creepy about it though, and Howard eventually takes issue with Raj looking after Bernadette’s pregnancy so closely, eventually confronting him about the ordeal.
As with Sheldon, the comedy with Raj was top-notch this week, as he does things like bring a stuffed bear for Bernadette that’s bigger than him, and recommend lactation specialists that he’s somehow in the know about, possibly because of his parents’ connections. As funny as Raj was this week though, it’s a bit odd that the episode didn’t even try to offer an explanation of why Raj is so fixated on the baby. I get that Raj is somewhat effeminate, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to maternal. Not only that, but isn’t Raj busy with juggling Emily and possibly Claire? How come the show just threw him back with Emily, and then immediately went back to forgetting about her? Raj’s writing has been all over the place this season, and at this point, it feels like the showrunners are just doing whatever they please with his character, and just treating him like a walking plot device.
Regardless, after Howard tells Raj to back off, he immediately regrets it, which leads to a few sweet scenes between Howard and Bernadette that further help to punctuate this episode nicely, especially when they call Raj back to listen to the baby’s heartbeat on an ultrasonic microphone. It’s kind of astonishing that Howard isn’t getting in more trouble from his pregnant, assertive and very hormonal wife, considering that he constantly seems to be sitting around, playing video games and otherwise wasting time whenever Bernadette needs something, but I guess it’s not a bad idea to explain that with Raj picking up the slack for him, however strange it is that Raj is doing so.
Hopefully, as the last handful of Season Nine episodes play out, The Big Bang Theory stabilizes a bit more. The show is yet again taking a week off next week, but at least, “The Big Bear Precipitation” was another stronger episode, finding some Leonard/Penny drama that was actually good and engaging for a change, and even providing some good material with the Wolowitz pregnancy. It would be nice if the show would start making up its mind as to Raj’s relationship disposition though, even if we’ll no doubt have to wait until Season Ten for that to happen.
- Penny learning a bad secret about Leonard
- Sweet Howard/Bernadette scenes
- Standout comedy with Sheldon and Raj
- Raj's baby fixation isn't well explained