By Josh Axelrod
“The Expedition Approximation” had two questions on its mind:
- Will the balance of power shift between Leonard and Penny now that Penny makes decent money?
- How long can Sheldon and Raj last in a hot, dark and moist mine?
One question was answered in spectacular question, while the other required a little perspective for Leonard and Penny to get over an inherently stupid issue.
The episode revisited Sheldon’s new field of study. Apparently there was some program where you could study dark matter in mine shafts (sure, whatever) that intrigued Sheldon and Raj. Of course, they both quickly realized that neither of them could handle mining conditions. So they decided to simulate the underground life in tunnels underneath their university. Because why not.
Meanwhile, Penny apparently is now making enough money and feels confident enough in her job security that she sold the car Leonard gave her. Her logic: She gets to drive a company car now, so why bother owning one? I’m not sure if this fits Penny’s character or not. This isn’t cute and ditzy; it’s thoughtless and makes no financial sense. I have no idea what Penny was trying to accomplish here, or if she even considered how Leonard might react to seeing his gift returned for cash.
Her heart was in the right place though at least when she decided to give Leonard his money back for the car. This launched a discussion about their finances and how now that Penny is making legitimate money, she doesn’t have to depend on Leonard as much. As Leonard put it: “You know I’m insecure about my insecurities.” Well said buddy.
Leonard and Penny had very little to do with the comedy this week, besides Penny’s subtle jabs at Leonard’s performance in bed and her own sluttiness (of course she’s had sex on a pile of money before). The best bits came from Sheldon, Raj and the Wolowitzes, whose domestic life looks kind of familiar.
Leonard and Penny went to Howard and Bernadette for advice on how they handle issues of money, which peeled back a terrifying curtain on how the Wolowitzes function as a family. Bernadette basically controls everything, as expected. She even gives Howard stars for doing chores. But their dynamic was disturbingly similar to Howard’s relationship with his mother. I guess Bernadette’s uncanny impression of Howard’s mother went a little deeper than we thought.
The visit to the Wolowtiz household was a much-needed reminder to Leonard and Penny that their relationship, no matter how hard they try, is not as ridiculous as their friends’. I really hope we don’t go back to these two having a “fight of the week” like when they were dating. These two are getting married. If they’re going to fight, let it be about the wedding, not silly things like Penny selling a car and emasculating Leonard. Or she could just not do that, which would make everyone’s lives easier.
Thank god for the Raj and Sheldon material. Whenever these two get paired, hilarity is guaranteed to ensue. Remember when they were forced to share an office? If you don’t, enjoy:
This pairing proved to be just as entertaining. The best bit by far was Raj comparing Hannah Montana’s (who of course he’s obsessed with) secret identity to Superman’s. Clark Kent does have slightly different hair and an impish demeanor, to be fair. And Amy’s reveal that the two of them had only been in that tunnel for 11 minutes was perfectly timed.
But within the comedy, we also got Sheldon to admit that he was afraid of being a 30-year-old scientist in a field in which he had yet to accomplish anything. It led to a sweet speech by Raj about how he thinks of the Voyager probe just floating endlessly in space whenever he’s scared. Of course, that heartwarming moment was undercut by Sheldon’s panic over the rats, but it resonated.
Overall, it was another solid installment of a show that should be stale by now, but just isn’t. I’m getting a little tired of the constant Leonard/Penny drama, but even those two are still endearing enough to be forgiven. Keep up the good work “Big Bang Theory.”