This review contains spoilers.
11.4 The Explosion Implosion
One thing The Big Bang Theory had to prove when announcing another pregnancy for Howard and Bernadette was how different it could be from the first. There’s the commonly held idea that babies ruin shows, but so far The Big Bang Theory has not only sidestepped a lot of the challenges – chiefly by not ever having to have a baby on set – but also milked the scenario for multiple plot lines and running jokes.
So why have Bernadette become pregnant again, rather than Amy or Penny? Well this time they’re having a boy, and boys present a lot more challenges for the couple.
For one, there’s Howard’s long-standing insecurities about how much of ‘a real man’ he is, possibly the strongest of the group besides Leonard. Of the four, Howard is the one who always overcompensated with lewd humour and – frankly – sexual harassment of friends and strangers alike, but now he’s a happily married father those issues are felt in a different way.
As soon as they hear that they will be adding a son to their family, Howard begins to freak out. What does he know about raising a boy? Will he have to play sports with him, watch sports with him and teach him how to grow up into less of a self-loathing mess than he was for so many years?
But as Sheldon says in one of the more interesting pairings of the season, he knows just as little about raising a daughter, and he and Bernadette are doing fine there. Pairing these two characters up elevates the episode, as it’s rare that we get to see Sheldon and Howard interact on their own without the rest of the group acting as buffer. Of the four guys, these two are the most antagonistic towards each other.
But in the end, as has been proven before, while Sheldon doesn’t respect Howard as an academic, he does respect him as a man.
While the two are on their rocket-launching road trip, Raj is at home with an almost equally disappointed Bernadette – having grown up in a house of brothers, she wished for a sister for Halley. Raj tries to cheer her up in a very Raj way, by creatively repurposing some of Halley’s old clothes for a baby boy, and we get a welcome nod towards the idea that they’re all just making assumptions about how a boy might be.
Our B-story is also about parents and sons, but this time with Leonard and Beverly. When the latter strikes up a Skype-friendship with Penny, Leonard inevitably gets jealous. How come she can tell Penny she’s proud of her when she’s never uttered the sentiment to her own son? Well, after eleven seasons, we might finally be getting somewhere there. Penny is her favourite of her children’s’ spouses, she says, and for that she’s proud of Leonard.
I’m a sucker for whenever The Big Bang Theory acknowledges how awesome Penny is aside from how much more traditionally attractive she is than the rest of her friends, so this is a sweet little side story. It also leads to a funny aside from Amy, who becomes manically insecure that Penny could possibly have another friend besides her. It’s been a while since we’ve seen this side of their relationship come out, and I’d really love for it to come back in the run up to the wedding.
Overall, while the beats of The Explosion Implosion were as predictable as ever, the episode managed to have some fun with a couple of old ideas.
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, The Relaxation Integration, here.