NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “The Big Bang Theory” are present in this review
The Big Bang Theory continued to flounder more this week, with a passable, though clearly half-baked bridging episode that largely existed to sneak pivotal story developments into two storylines that felt questionably resolved. “The Allowance Evaporation” was nonetheless carried entirely by Sheldon and Raj, whose social awkwardness was yet again put into focus in a big way, but that left the other characters with very little to do this week.
The main plot of the episode involves Raj getting into something of a spat with his father, after his father declares that he has given up on Raj ever getting married. After citing Raj’s spoiled behaviour, Raj complains to his friends, only to find that they agree with his father. Viewers will no doubt agree as well, since Raj has always been portrayed as comically privileged throughout the ten years that this show has been on the air at this point.
The true depths of Raj’s privilege being explored was kind of funny here, especially when it comes out that Raj isn’t even aware of the exact cost of his rent or car payments, since his father has always paid for every single one of his adult expenses. Once again though, this conflict coming out from Raj’s love life undermines it considerably, since, as I said a few reviews ago, it’s just too difficult to care about Raj’s love life at this point. The show can never seem to commit to any kind of woman for Raj, and at this point, he might as well just resign himself to being the group bachelor.
Actually, on this note, I’ve noticed something in this episode that I’ve been pondering for a while, but now it’s especially apparent; Sheldon and Raj feel like the only real links to The Big Bang Theory’s socially awkward origins now. The rest of the characters have matured and developed so much that they no longer feel like the eccentric geeks that they once were, or, in the case of Penny, the rough, but charming airhead. Whenever the show needs to go back to its classic style, Sheldon and/or Raj are almost always at the center of the story, because they’re now the only two characters that don’t feel like they’ve gone as far as they can reasonably go when it comes to personal development.
Still, Raj resolving to finally stop accepting his father’s money and pay his own bills was a nice moment, even though the show cruelly teases viewers with the prospect of Raj living with either the Wolowitz’s or the Hofstadters, which gets them into a metaphorical game of hot potato regarding their friend. Why even bring it up if you’re just going to keep Raj where he is? Maybe the show will put Raj at one of these places later, since it’s implied that his apartment is ludicrously expensive, but for now, he simply makes the declaration of independence to his father, fires his dog walker off-screen, and that’s pretty much it for now. It feels like we’re not going to see the true fallout of this decision until future episodes, and that’s kind of annoying.
As for the Sheldon subplot, it’s probably the funnier of the two, as expected, and at least begins on a pretty promising note, especially with another funny appearance by Bert. After Sheldon and Amy chance upon Bert being stood up by an online date, Bert blurts out to Amy that Sheldon has been blabbing to CalTech about the two only having sex once a year. This sort of presents an interesting conflict for Sheldon after Amy is inevitably humiliated and angry at this revelation, but this latest moment of personal growth for Sheldon’s character feels rushed-through and kind of unsatisfying. This whole issue mainly just exists to have it awkwardly and clumsily come out to Amy that Sheldon got his driver’s license recently, and didn’t tell her. Wait, what? How did he do that?! The episode never clarifies, and that’s really frustrating, especially since it mooted whatever maturity Sheldon was trying to accomplish by learning to respect Amy’s privacy, since he’s nonetheless outed as a spoiled man-child from making Amy drive him and not telling her that he got his license.
“The Allowance Evaporation” is another episode of The Big Bang Theory that primarily feels like it’s just there to fill a space in the Season Ten order. The big personal developments revealed for Raj and Sheldon have promise for later, but they’re yet more ideas that don’t see a proper resolution in this episode itself. We don’t see Sheldon drive. We don’t see Raj try to hack it without his father’s money. Instead, we just have to keep tuning in for episodes to come in order to see where these story turns go, which I suppose is a foregone conclusion anyway, considering that The Big Bang Theory remains the most watched sitcom on television right now, despite its weaker tenth season. Maybe the wait will be worth it, but The Big Bang Theory can’t expect to throw curveballs into an otherwise half-baked episode and expect that to suddenly elevate the material by itself.
- Some funny humour derived from Sheldon's privacy struggle
- Raj making an honest effort to grow up a little
- Amusing return for Bert
- Still too difficult to care about Raj's love life
- Sheldon having a driver's license is too quickly swept under the rug
- Everyone beyond Sheldon and Raj has little to do