The Big Bang Theory season 7 episode 15 review: The Locomotive Manipulation

Review Juliette Harrisson 7 Feb 2014 - 14:01

It's Valentine's Day on The Big Bang Theory, and Sheldon and Amy's relationship passes a milestone. Here's Juliette's review...

This review contains spoilers.

7.15 The Locomotive Manipulation

The Big Bang Theory is going on a short hiatus for a couple of weeks, so this year’s Valentine’s Day episode aired this week. While Leonard and Penny stay home dog-sitting for Raj (who is working), Amy has organised a trip for herself, Sheldon, Howard and Bernadette, staying at a bed and breakfast in the Napa valley overnight and having dinner on a vintage train.

Unsurprisingly, this episode is all about romance. The old cliché that drama requires conflict isn’t always completely true – happiness can also be dramatic and interesting, especially in comedy – but it is true that a stable, happily married couple’s romantic stories are inherently less exciting than a less stable couple, a single person looking for someone or a couple who have yet to consummate their relationship. It makes sense, then, that Howard and Bernadette are part of Amy’s story rather than having a plot of their own, though Bernadette’s insistence on taking credit for Howard going into space is as amusing as it is infuriating (and a good example of the reversal of gender stereotypes that provides a lot of the comedy in their marriage, as Bernadette patronises Howard and takes credit for his achievements). Quite how Amy persuaded them that a double date involving Sheldon would be a good idea for Valentine’s Day is a bit of a mystery, but perhaps they just felt sorry for her. Her face as they kiss and exchange ‘I love yous’ in front of her is priceless.

Raj has booked some extra time with the big telescope to take his mind off things on Valentine’s Day, but his plans are interrupted after he asks Leonard and Penny to dog-sit for the night. Thankfully they don’t enact the sitcom cliché of leaving the door open and letting the dog escape, which is an immense relief; Leonard’s mistake in leaving the chocolates out and accidentally poisoning Cinnamon seems much more plausible, especially assuming he doesn’t know much about dogs. It all works out well in the end as Raj gets the attractive vet’s phone number, though whether or not we see her again remains to be seen. (As a person who has gone through life named ‘Juliette’, I predict that she will not react well to Raj’s Yvette/a vet joke). It doesn’t really matter if we don’t see her – Raj enjoyed a sweet flirtation and got a phone number on Valentine’s Day, which is a nice break for him.

The really big news in this episode is, of course, Amy and Sheldon. Following last year’s Valentine’s Day episode, in which Amy offered to do something Sheldon would be comfortable with, this year she is determined to enjoy the sort of Valentine’s Day she wants. Knowing that Sheldon would hate that, she’s arranged for dinner on one of his beloved vintage trains in an attempt at a compromise. While Sheldon loves the train and has a fantastic night he is, of course, oblivious to the point of compromise and abandons Amy to talk about trains with an equally train-obsessed fellow passenger (the waiter’s weary aside to the effect that he’s very familiar with this man is a nice touch).

Things finally start to improve for Amy when she confronts Sheldon about his complete neglect of her feelings. (In other circumstances, complaining about wanting all the trappings of romance for Valentine’s Day regardless of your other half’s feelings might come across as selfish or whiny, but both the amount of effort Amy’s gone to regarding avoiding baths with feet and booking Sheldon his own room, plus last year’s Valentine’s which was all about Sheldon, help to ensure that she is pretty firmly in the right in demanding just a little compromise from him). In the middle of angrily demanding what it is she wants (referring to wine as ‘grape juice that burns!’ which made us laugh), Sheldon kisses Amy on the lips to demonstrate how pointless and unpleasant it is. Except he manages to demonstrate the opposite, as he clearly gets into the kiss and finally kisses her properly for the first time.

The best thing about the way this scene plays out is that, although Amy has demanded that Sheldon pay more attention to her, she hasn’t specifically demanded a kiss or forced him into it, and he seems to enjoy it as much as she does. When he asks her to come visit the engine room with him afterwards, he finally seems to be reaching a point where she is as important to him as his other interests, and he wants to share them with her. No matter how much Amy wants a more traditional relationship with Sheldon, it will only really work if they both want it, and this is a positive sign indicating that might, someday, happen. Meanwhile, she seems pretty happy with how her Valentine’s worked out.

Sheldon’s attitude on returning and telling Leonard about his weekend more or less says it all in terms of where he’s got to. He is very happy, having made a new friend who likes train as much as he does, kissed Amy on the lips, and heard the nine-fingered conductor play banjos. Leonard is incredulous at the way he delivers this news, asking ‘Are all those things equal to you?’ They are, of course, but for Sheldon that’s a huge leap forward. For a man who hates physical intimacy to consider kissing on the lips as equal in excitement with his other passions is a big step, and an appropriately romantic milestone for a Valentine’s Day episode.

Read Juliette's review of the previous episode, The Convention Conundrum, here.

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Hope the vet comes back. It's Cynthia from Malcolm in the Middle!

At the beginning of the episode, Sheldon and Amy were discussing nicknames. Amy didn't seem to like the idea of "Gollum" being her nickname, but I saw it a different way. If Amy is Gollum, and Sheldon is her boyfriend, doesn't that make Sheldon "her precious"?. Which is probably true for Amy, but by Sheldon saying it, he's also indirectly saying how he feels about her. I think there's a deeper meaning to it.

And Alex from Lost! Tania Raymonde was looking great, would be nice to see her again.

Very nice review. Yes, a giant step for Sheldon both in kissing Amy (eleven Mississippis, my friend!) and in his casual mention of it to Leonard. There's no going back for S & A, no reboot. Sheldon is happy about it. The kiss is in his list of great things that happened on the trip!

I hope Raj doesn't get a girlfriend - there's no place for her to go. Amy and Sheldon have the male in power; Howard and Bernadette have the woman in control, while Leonard and Penny are oddly equal. Raj is perfect as the perpetual single.

I really hope the vet stays and becomes Raj's girlfriend. I think they had good chemistry. He has been alone for too long. I did not like his last girlfriend at all. He deserves better than a psychological mess!
I'm really glad that Sheldon and Amy finally kissed! It was wonderful!

honestly, it would be boring if they would have partners. i think the idea that one of them is still eager to have one, and that is raj,is a good decision.

You're wrong, that's S07E15.

I still love bbt, but I feel like the show has lost some steam. There is nowhere else to go for leonard and howard. the major saving grace of this season is stuart is pretty much a regular and he is amazing comic relief.

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