By Josh Axelrod
“The Space Probe Disintegration” seemed like it was going to be nothing more than an average “Big Bang Theory” episode. Leonard, Sheldon, Amy, and Penny were in the middle of a minor conflict that was barely a blip on the radar for all parties involved. The show’s true power couple, Howard and Raj, were off on their own misadventure. Then things got weirdly emotional, with multiple characters venting their frustrations with certain aspects of their lives. A standard episode became a memorable one just like that.
The main storyline looked like it was going to be pretty vanilla. Sheldon and Leonard wanted to play a game of “Lord of the Rings” Risk, while Amy and Penny didn’t want to spend all day playing a board game. The girls announced they would decide what the group did that day. Sheldon grumbled, but didn’t put up too much of a fight.
Penny got a great line in here about why she was basically forced to go to a “Doctor Who” convention with Leonard: “You walked out of the house in a fez and a bowtie. I had to go with you so you wouldn’t get beat up.” Eight seasons in and Penny is still undoubtedly the man in this relationship.
Elsewhere, Raj was worried about his Horizon space probe that had turned itself on upon its arrival at Pluto. He was concerned that it would be damaged and all the waiting would’ve been for nothing. “Space ice is no joke. I can’t even watch ‘Frozen’ anymore.” Emily is a saint for putting up with Raj.
Back with our two main couples, Sheldon and Leonard were left holding their girlfriends’ purses while they shopped at a department store. They began playing a fake game of “Lord of the Rings” risk because there was no cell phone service or Wi-Fi in the store. On behalf of the men of the world, all stores where women shop and drag men should at the bare minimum have solid service.
Their game somehow morphed into a conversation about compromise, specifically all the compromises Sheldon makes for Leonard. It was hilarious watching a dumbfounded Leonard listen to the concessions Sheldon said he had to make in order to accommodate his roommate. He also let it slip that Amy taught him how to drive, but he still lets Leonard drive him around to give his little buddy purpose. What a dick.
Interestingly enough, the Howard/Raj storyline turned into an exploration of science versus religion. In an effort to distract himself, Raj and Howard took a drive to a Hindu temple. Howard was surprised that this is where Raj wanted to go, considering he had known Raj for 10 years and he had never been particularly religious. Howard wondered how a man of science could possibly look for answers in a domain where nothing was definitive.
There was a quick scene with Amy and Penny in dressing rooms trying on clothes. Amy admitted she had long ago decided that if she ever got friends, she would do whatever they say. Penny told her since that didn’t apply anymore, she could pick what they did that night. She also offered to help Amy work on her depressing sense of style.
Sheldon continued to name compromises he made for Leonard until Leonard erupted with all the things he does to keep Sheldon satisfied, the biggest one being: “I don’t live with the woman I love because of you.” This is the first time that had been brought up since Leonard and Penny got engaged and Sheldon ran away to avoid his feelings. Leonard went on to tell Sheldon how much he always inconveniences everyone, which to be fair is true.
Sheldon called Leonard mean and admitted he understood all the sarcastic remarks Leonard assumed went over his head. Then Sheldon got sweet and told Leonard he should move in with Penny, but he can’t imagine life without his best friend. He even told Leonard he knows how difficult he can be and thanked him for putting up with his antics. Sheldon and Leonard both ended up in tears. I told you things got emotional!
It was kind of a random, but the payoff was sweet and long overdue. Penny and Leonard are engaged; it’s about time they started at least considering living together, Sheldon or no Sheldon. Once the girls joined the conversation, Penny and Leonard agreed to move out gradually. Very, very gradually: The’ll live together for one night a week and Sheldon will allow Leonard to whistle…when he isn’t home. Way to be the bigger man Sheldon.
At the Hindu temple, Raj explained to Howard that his religious faith was a way for him to believe in deeper connections with the world that science couldn’t explain. Of course, right after getting zen, someone swiped his car and Raj exploded. He yelled at the guy who hit him, talking about his stress over the probe, his parents’ divorce and something about his dog’s stylist. Howard got a text telling him the probe was fine. All’s well that ends well.
The episode ended with Lenny and Shamy enjoying themselves weaving baskets, as suggested by Amy. Back at Penny’s apartment, Penny and Leonard were ready to go to bed on their one night a week living together. Of course, Sheldon was sleeping on the couch right outside Penny’s bedroom. Baby steps.