The Big Bang Theory season 11 episode 21 review: The Comet Polarisation

Neil Gaiman guest stars in a mostly solid episode of The Big Bang Theory...

This review contains spoilers.

11.21 The Comet Polarisation

In a bit of a strangeepisode, The Big Bang Theory manages to be both funnier and clunkier than usual, which is still preferable to the less funny and even clunkier alternative.

The episode begins with the whole group watching planets on the roof. Blah blah something about Mercury, blah blah something about Penny not knowing anything about science. For a moment I thought we were going to get a bottle episode, perhaps because Stuart so rarely gets invited to simple group scenes, but then the truth is revealed when the down on his luck businessman suddenly finds a whole boatload of luck in the form of a Twitter recommendation.

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Apparently Neil Gaiman frequents Stuart’s store, and felt it was so charming that he just had to recommend it to his 2.72 million followers. I can’t decide how plausible or implausible this is. On the one hand, who the hell recommends local businesses on their platforms when they have a primarily global audience? On the other, it would be a really nice thing to do for a real-world struggling business like Stuart’s.

And nice it turns out to be, as the store quickly explodes in popularity. The two seperate bits where Gaiman himself appeared on screen were where some of the aforementioned clunk came in, but you have to expect that with celebrity cameos. I wonder how they ended up on Gaiman as, at this point in the show, he seems quite niche – like someone the guys would have been excited by in early seasons.

Alas, Sheldon obviously has his doubts about how his friend’s new-found fame might impact on his life, reminiscing about when the comic book store was “empty and sad”.

Small credit where it’s overdue – the episode remembers that women like comics and then even makes that fact a plot point in the episode. I’ve complained in the past that, of the three women that have managed to carve a place in this show, none of them are into the geeky pastimes that their partners are. It sometimes gets around that by bringing football or Little House on the Prairie into the mix, but it’s not the same.

So the introduction of Julia is a welcome one, even if it’s just for one episode. When Amy stormed into the store frustrated with Sheldon’s endless enamoured conversation about his new friend, I wasn’t expecting her to ask for help. It was a nice flip of our expectations for that small scene, with Amy making the effort to learn about something that’s clearly so important to her fiance.

As Sheldon says, she’s wise and smells like books – the whole package.

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I also chucked perhaps a little too hard at Amy’s trepidation when Sheldon brings up Black Panther to make his point. That feeling of holding your breath in fear that things are going to get really, really offensive really, really fast is a familiar one on this side of the screen.

Meanwhile, the first scene also sees Penny discover a weird smudge in the sky through the telescope, and Raj takes the subsequent photo to work. When he returns, a new comet has been found and Rajesh is its name. Penny, understandably peeved by this, recalls all of the times when men in his life overlook her ideas and accomplishments because of the way she looks, and demands Leonard confront Raj.

Leonard, ever the people-pleasing coward, decides he’s going to use feminism to get out of this task and pumps Penny up enough to go over there herself. Of course, because she’s Penny, she gets what she wants even though Raj presents the sympathy card. You go girl.

If we have to endure some bad jokes and mistimed laugh-tracks to get a couple of decent, character-driven storylines like this in an episode, then I’ll take it.

Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, The Reclusive Potential, here.