This review contains spoilers.
10.18 The Escape Hatch Identification
In this week’s episode of The Big Bang Theory Raj is homeless, but somehow he’s still in better shape than most of his friends.
We start with a little montage across apartments, when Leonard and Howard see a post from Raj announcing his worsening financial struggles. He can’t afford his apartment now that he’s been cut off from his father’s funding, and the two couples debate whether they have room to take their friend in or not. Meanwhile, Sheldon and Amy are having a similar conversation about whether they have room for a life-size Spider-Man statue in their apartment.
There’s an uncomfortable running joke about Raj’s friends humorously suggesting he go back to India, which doesn’t feel very funny in 2017, but what do I know?
Much more entertaining is Raj, whose default mode is always going to be taking advantage of people, playing Howard and Leonard against each other once they both offer him refuge. Faced with either a garage or Sheldon’s old room, I felt the potential gags and storylines flash before my eyes as he measured the bathroom situation and wi-fi against each other. Of course, once Penny gets involved, Raj falls in line.
Sheldon’s okay with the idea at first, but there’s a nagging worry that leads him to speak with his therapist – Leonard’s mother. She points out that he’s probably keeping that room in his mind as an escape hatch should his relationship with Amy not work out as planned, and that Leonard and Penny’s parade of roommates is a sign of their own marital strife.
There’ve been comments from readers this season that a sitcom indicating trouble between a married couple doesn’t mean as much from week to week as it might do in a drama. While I agree with this to a certain extent, The Big Bang Theory has never shied away from its more soap opera-y elements. I’m not suggesting that Leonard and Penny won’t end up together if and when the show ends (it may well outlive us all), but these hints at problems feel like they’re leading up to something.
In any case, this season has been a strange one to get to grips with purely because at the beginning there was a very real possibility it would be the show’s last. Now, as we near the tail end of its tenth year, it’s more likely that it’ll be sticking around for another couple of seasons at least. Not only that, but the young Sheldon spin-off will probably accompany it.
In terms of this episode, Valerie’s always good value and her simple presence (even over Skype) ensures it’s more entertaining than the sum of its parts.
Raj’s monetary situation is at least allowing him to be involved in the story even as the focus stays on Leonard and Sheldon’s problems and insecurities, and I look forward to seeing a change in dynamics as he presumably flits from apartment to apartment a la Stuart.
Speaking of Stuart, he’s used better here than he has been for weeks. Side characters have always been The Big Bang Theory’s secret weapon, but there’s a limit to how often it can crap all over Stuart before it feels cruel. He’s much better here, as he celebrates his life sponging off his much richer friends. As a perpetually almost-homeless person with generous friends, I related to this.
We finish with the revelation that Amy won the fight over a life-size Spider-Man statue, but seemingly lost a follow-up fight over a life-size Batman statue.
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, The Comic-Con Conundrum, here.