This review contains spoilers.
12.19 The Inspiration Deprivation
It’s hard to picture an end to The Big Bang Theory that doesn’t have Sheldon and Amy winning a Nobel Prize, given that most of the other life events have already been covered for the show’s two main couples. I still think that Raj’s wedding would have made for an amazing finale, but given that Anu has disappeared to wherever it is the writers send all of Raj’s girlfriends in the middle of a season, that ship appears to have sailed for good.
What better then, than a vacation for the gang which culminates in Shamy winning the highest honour in physics, a goal that has been life-long for Sheldon at least?
To get there, the couple will have to overcome some obstacles. Amy’s outburst at the drinks reception in the previous episode has significantly impacted their chances of winning, and this has placed considerable stress on all involved. When Amy is reminded that she would be only the fourth woman to get the prize, she starts to spiral.
What follows is filler of the most annoying kind, even if the sentiment is honourable. Too often in the past, the show forgot that two of its female characters were scientists in their own right, but now at least Amy’s career is getting as much play as Sheldon’s. To calm them down (and presumably to give Penny and Leonard their contractual screen time), it’s suggested they try sensory deprivation tanks.
Sheldon enjoys his experience immensely, swimming through a dream-world of maths and science, while Amy is confronted with all the women who won’t become scientists because of her failure. This is nonsense, of course, but she emerges more upset than ever. After some false starts, Sheldon realises that all she wants is for him to hold her… and sing a few verses of Soft Kitty.
The highlight of the episode is obviously the return of Regina King – now an Oscar winner and properly slumming it on The Big Bang Theory – as the university’s head of HR. The episode does at least make the most of her presence, and she steals the show first with her calm, HR-voiced dressing down of Sheldon and Amy and again with her acceptance of Amy’s rebuttal.
The B-story for this episode barely registers and is quite literally something that’s already happened. Howard misses his scooter because it represents a time when he was younger and freer, but Bernadette made him get rid of it because of its obvious safety flaws. Howard buys a new one, is caught by Bernadette, and reluctantly sells it to Bert (nice to see you, Bert!).
There’s something worthwhile buried deep in here, with Howard coming close to resenting the ways in which family life have changed him. Bernadette’s right to tell him to suck it up, but outside of him getting rid of the scooter, the matter isn’t really resolved. Could this not have been a moment for Howard and Raj to get into how different their lives are, and how they’re jealous of each other for widely opposing reasons?
After a strong start to this season, it’s felt like The Big Bang Theory hasn’t moved forward in a while. In any other season, this would be a mild annoyance, but a final run demands a certain amount of momentum, and we’re just not getting it. Let’s hope the final five episodes can make up for it.
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, The Laureate Accumulation, here.