The Big Bang Theory season 10 episode 21 review: The Separation Agitation

Howard and Bernadette struggle with childcare guilt while Bert faces a quandary in the latest episode of The Big Bang Theory...

This article comes from Den of Geek UK.

This review contains spoilers.

10.21 The Separation Agitation

The Big Bang Theory has been in dire need of new blood for some time now. With it getting difficult to remember a time when Bernadette, Amy and Stuart weren’t part of the furniture, there’s been a sense this season that the writers may have run out of things to do with their regular characters. That concern was only exacerbated by the apparently imminent cancellation and subsequent two-season renewal.

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Which is my long way of saying that I like Bert, and have so far enjoyed what he’s brought to the series. Comedy-wise, he’s not been given anything that Stuart couldn’t have done – playing the sad sack, slightly unaware loser – but Brian Posehn brings a deadpan quality to it that’s very endearing.

The set-up of The Separation Agitation is that Bert has an unlikely new girlfriend, and she’s clearly using him for his money from the recent research grant (impressive continuity for this show). When he brings her around to Leonard and Penny’s apartment they advise him to break up with her but, after doing so, Bert regrets being so hasty. Yeah she was interested in his money, but she was also interested in walking around his house in her underwear.

The characterisation of Rebecca was basically what could have easily happened had the writers not liked Penny so much. The two women’s similarities were more or less lampshaded within the episode, and it just made me glad that this wasn’t the road they went down with ‘ditzy neighbour lives across the hall from nerds’. It’s hard to give this show credit a lot of the time, but thank heavens for small mercies.

Meanwhile Bernadette and Howard (and Stuart) are preparing to send Halley to daycare for the first time and struggling to let go. Despite committing to going back to work and deciding with Howard that they can always change their mind later, Bernadette feels guilty for leaving her child with strangers while she’s still so young. I’m sure it’s a relatable thing for a lot of parents watching and nicely grounds the episode.

I also quite like the slight role reversal of Howard being the one to take her out of daycare to spend the day playing hooky – as much as the show is showing Bernadette to have anxiety about being a working mother, it’s done a good job so far of not shaming or stereotyping her for those choices.

The highlight of the episode is undoubtedly the pre-credits ‘Fun With Flags: Behind the Flags, a Retrospective’, which somehow managed to make this old joke funny again. The return of Footprints on the Moon as their house band; the delivery of the “almost 200 viewers, many of them on purpose” gag – it was so good that I was disappointed when the episode resumed as normal, and wished that the mockumentary conceit could have extended across the entire episode. What a missed opportunity.

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More than anything though, The Separation Agitation made me wish for more time with Bert, even if Sheldon says that their friendship group is at capacity. Of course, the writers barely have enough time to focus on Raj as it is and, as pointed out in the episode, they’d probably need to get another person of colour to replace him.