NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “The Big Bang Theory” are present in this review
The Big Bang Theory seemed to get a bit of a boost over the past couple of episodes, but sadly, that boost seems to have run out in, “The Locomotion Reverberation” this week. A completely forgettable filler episode in every way, “The Locomotion Reverberation” once again had The Big Bang Theory falling back on tired jokes and uninspired storylines, with half-hearted conflicts that don’t even bother to truly resolve themselves.
One of the better parts of the episode comes right from the beginning at least, with the show finally remembering to bring up the classified guidance system project that Leonard, Howard and Sheldon are supposed to be developing for the military. It’s unbelievable that these three haven’t been shown working on that at all for quite a few episodes, but finally, there’s a storyline derived from it, specifically when Sheldon comes up with a theory as to how make the guidance system smaller, despite the military already approving the specs off-screen.
When Colonel Williams sees Sheldon’s work, he throws out the approval and insists that Leonard and Howard put together the plan to shrink the system. Unfortunately, Leonard pulls out an ace-in-the-hole that ends up backfiring shortly beforehand, since he gives Sheldon a $4,000 trip to a train yard to get rid of him, so that Leonard and Howard can work uninterrupted. Since Sheldon is the only one who knows how to shrink the system though, Leonard and Howard then have to try and coax Sheldon back to work, after he becomes absorbed fully into the life of a train engineer.
As with quite a few disappointing episodes of The Big Bang Theory, Jim Parsons was left to carry most of this episode’s humour. It’s understandable why the show keeps falling back on him, considering that Parsons is still elevating the material even ten seasons in, but even he can only do so much with a storyline that was better in concept than execution. The joke of Leonard and Howard trying to lure Sheldon back with intentionally incorrect mathematics was amusing, and Amy’s dream about Sheldon manning a train in the epilogue is sort of funny, but the rest of the writing falls pretty flat. Sheldon completely abandoning physics for trains, to the point where he no longer cares about his own revised guidance system, feels too out-of-character. Making matters worse is that the storyline isn’t resolved at the end of the episode, with Sheldon still blowing off his work on the guidance system as Amy takes him to the train yard. Does this mean that Leonard and Howard have to spend more than one episode bringing Sheldon back to the project?
Unfortunately, the episode’s subplots didn’t fare much better. After Bernadette becomes stressed about setting up preschool applications and other such provisions for Halley, Penny decides that the girls should go dancing, leaving Raj and Stuart in charge of the baby. Again, this is a pretty solid duo of storylines on paper, but the execution feels very weak and half-hearted. The humour just isn’t strong enough to generate much appeal here, as much of the writing yet again falls back on tired sitcom tropes regarding new mothers and frustrated wives.
Further adding to these issues are the fact that the conflicts between Raj and Stuart ultimately go nowhere, as their storyline is also dropped without being properly resolved in the end. Instead, the two pull out yet another trope, the bumbling men who struggle to take care of a baby in a mother’s stead, and do little else. Meanwhile, Penny later gets frustrated at the club she wanted to go to closing down, then starts simultaneously complaining about trying to recapture her youth while also not maturing fast enough with Leonard. Uhhh, excuse me? Aren’t those two completely contradictory issues? Even then, Penny’s insecurities are quickly swept away by Bernadette and Amy as they simply claim that Penny makes more money than them and has a bigger apartment than at least Amy, so she shouldn’t feel sad. Seriously? That’s kind of an alarming message for the episode, saying that money essentially buys happiness, when most functioning adults know damn well that it doesn’t. Sure, Amy touches on something more meaningful when she references Leonard proposing twice and Sheldon not even proposing once, but that’s forgotten as soon as it’s brought up.
It’s extremely evident that, “The Locomotion Reverberation” is a complete filler episode that only exists to fill a space in the Season Ten order for The Big Bang Theory, since the writers just really seemed to be out to lunch here. The episode sadly wastes two promising story concepts, falling back on the same predictable jokes, and once again leaving Jim Parsons to carry the bulk of the laughs. This is frustrating, since it seemed like Season Ten was finding some renewed momentum over the past couple of episodes, and hopefully it hasn’t completely run out for the rest of the season. We’ll have to see in next week’s episode, but I really hope this decline in quality is a mere hiccup, and not a return to the lower standard of the season’s lacklustre front half.
- Sheldon yet again being a reliable dose of humour
- Story concepts are solid
- Finally revisits the guidance system storyline
- Too many tired, unfunny jokes in most of the story arcs
- Storylines feel sloppily-written and blatantly unresolved
- Penny's ill-defined insecurities and their misguided answer