This review contains spoilers.
6.11 The Santa Simulation
I know I can be hard on The Big Bang Theory writers sometimes, but even I have to give them credit for one of the most unique takes on the ubiquitous Christmas episode that I’ve seen in a very long time. By framing the episode as a holiday-themed D&D campaign, they manage to work in carols, a bell choir, Santa, and even a little character development.
It all starts when the boys break the news to their significant others. The girls are predictably unhappy (especially Amy, once she is told she’s not invited after she expresses interest), but Stuart (who the writers suddenly seem to have remembered is living with Raj) is excited, mostly because he’s invited. Apparently it’s not so much that significant others aren’t invited as it is No Girls Allowed, which…is not a move I really approve of on a show that’s got a lot of problematic things in terms of gender.
But when the game gets going, Raj is too amped up to strategize and gets himself killed almost immediately, prompting him to ask the ladies if he can join them on their Girls Night Out. They let him, mostly because Raj is adorable and who could say no to him? Other than apparently every woman in Burbank who he’s not friends with.
Despite the girls’ best efforts, they can’t find Raj an interested girl, prompting him to casually mention his former crushes on Penny and Bernadette. When Amy notes that she’s missing from his list, the two get to talking about loneliness and I’m left to wonder if maybe we’re heading for a Raj/Amy hookup somewhere down the line, especially after he notes that he’s attracted to her because she no longer wants him. Not that I question Amy’s devotion to Sheldon, but he’s not budging on the physical side of things and Amy’s…well, as we saw last week, she’s getting desperate. Who could blame her if she ended things with Sheldon and pursued something with someone else? (And really who could blame her if that someone else was Raj, who we’ve previously established is adorable.) Plus, just speaking from a comedy standpoint, it’s always hilarious when Sheldon is reluctantly jealous, so an extended arc of him dealing with Amy/Raj could potentially yield comedic gold, if the writers played their cards right.
Back at the apartment, Leonard has set up the D&D game to revolve around Christmas. At various points, Sheldon sings the entirety of Good King Winceslas (on a personal note: I love it when Jim sings), the boys form a bell choir to perform Jingle Bells, and they find melted snowmen–corncob pipes and all. But when they reach the end of their quest to save Santa from the ogres, Sheldon turns on Howard and Stuart, and explains that the last time he encountered Santa was when he was five and he asked for Santa to bring him back his grandfather, who had died earlier that year. Obviously, Santa didn’t pull through, and Sheldon has apparently hated Santa Claus ever since.
It’s one of those things that’s simultaneously absurd and rooted in real emotion that works so well for Sheldon’s character. Heartless though he may seem, the boy does love his family, particularly his grandparents. So while it’s completely ridiculous for a grown man to harbour a grudge against Santa for failing to revive a deceased relative, it’s the same brand of ridiculous that made it possible for a grown man to harbour a grudge against Wil Wheaton. With any other character, I couldn’t buy it, but with Sheldon Cooper, my heart hurts just thinking about it.
There were a few problems here or there in the episode (I really dislike how the boys continuously segregate themselves from the girls, particularly when it comes to geeky things) but overall, a solid episode that managed an original take on the Christmas theme that I’m sure a lot of us are tiring on.