Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Big Bang Theory

The Big Bang Theory
Episode 17: The Monster Isolation
By: Carlos Uribe

The Big Bang Theory is about a group of friends who happen to be nerds and the girl next door.

Spoilers Ahoy!

You don't have to watch every episode of the Big Bang Theory. This is a traditional sit-com where the mass majority of episodes are stand-alone. You can watch most of them without requiring any real information on what happened in previous weeks. You might miss some of the new running gags or not get a few of the references but they're not necessary to truly enjoy the show. This makes it easy to catch up on the show in case you've missed a few episodes. This doesn't mean that there are episodes that don't advance the plot. These exist and not contained to just the first and last episodes of the season. The moment when Penny admitted her love for Leonard is a pretty big moment for the show. It can at times be hard to tell if an episode is going to be essential or not. It shouldn't matter since you should be watching this series because you enjoy it and not because you only care about the plot. This isn't a drama where what happens next is just as important as the character beats. It's just that it makes it more forgiving to viewers who accidentally missed an episode because they forgot or for some other reason. Who knows? There's a few viewers who might have checked out this Community they keep hearing so much about or tried to see if Zero Hour is going to be next big science fiction drama (spoiler: it's not). This might make it frustrating for viewers who expect to see development since it can come at a snail's pace but it is there. Howard has changed a lot and Raj is growing this season. Sheldon might be a bigger jerk than he used to be but he's growing in his own way. Leonard is becoming more mature. These changes happen gradually to the point where some viewers are going to complain but it's also a gift. So why do I bring this up? This is one of the few episodes that feels the need to remind viewers what happened in the last episode. It ended with Raj going on a date with Lucy.

If Lucy is going to stay in the long-term then the Monster Isolation (where we really get a chance to meet her) and The Tangible Proof Affection (when she first appears) are essential episodes. If she doesn't stick around but the relationship seriously allows Raj to grow then they will still be important. If neither of these happen then the Tangible Proof Affection will only be important if you're catching this episode. It is sadly difficult to tell at this point simply because we don't know for how long Kate Micucci is going to stick with the show. She might only appear in a few more episodes or she might truly become a fixture. I'm not sure the show can handle having another series regular but adding her to the permanent recurring ranks wouldn't be out of the question. The thing is we just don't know-this makes it risky to truly get invested in their relationship. It might be doomed to fail but it might very well last. So this episode MIGHT be important in the long-run then the question becomes if it's actually any good or are people who like to watch only the most essential episodes going to have to question skipping it? The Monster Isolation is not really an amazing episode of the Big Bang Theory but it gets surprisingly close.

It actually begins right after Lucy asked Raj out for a drink. The two have left the comic shop and they go to a local coffee shop. The date seems to be going fine as Raj is okay talking about himself since he's under the influence of alcohol but it turns sour when he asks about Lucy's life. She excuses herself to the bathroom and quickly flees the date. What happens when a character leaves you like that on a date? You're liable to blame yourself. Raj takes it personally. He locks himself in his room, stops picking it up, and doesn't take care of himself. He doesn't even bother to put on pants after a while. There's nothing that adds the image that he's basically acting like a child than seeing a grown man wearing only his underwear and a lobster bib. It's also slightly disgusting. His friends try to make him feel better to no avail. Raj is only able to recover when he gets Lucy's phone number. At first he rejects it but he decides to call her. Lucy reveals that the reason she ran away isn't because of Raj but because she has social issues. The only reason she had been at the party is because she had been forcing herself to go outside her comfort zone. When Raj convinces her that he has issues as well, the two decide to give each other another show. It was funny and great but it might have gone just a little bit too far with how emotionally unstable Raj was. My biggest complaint is that this is an episode where we really get to meet Lucy but the only thing we learn about her is that she has social issues. Great, so she basically fits everyone not named Penny perfectly. This is not a compliment as it basically means she can't really leave an impression when she's so similar to almost every other character on this show. After this episode I still don't feel like I really know her-I'm hoping she's more developed in the next episode. I want to root for Raj to have a girlfriend but it's sort of a requirement that she has a personality beyond having issues because everyone has some kind of issue.

It's always great when we get a Fun with Flags segment since they have surprisingly proven to be a strong recurring feature of the show. This week it's a perfect excuse to pair Penny and Sheldon up. For some reason, Penny has agreed to be on the show. The plot really begins when Penny gives Sheldon suggestions on how to appear more open to the public. Sheldon doesn't freak out but rather tries to take the advice as best as he can. The plot continues when Amy basically tells Sheldon that he needs to tell Penny that he appreciated the advice. Penny is delighted to hear an actual compliment from Sheldon but gets angry when he openly mocks her invitation to go see an art show. The conflict becomes about whether or not Sheldon is going to be forced to go. It's really funny material that shows how Amy is becoming a more positive influence in Sheldon's life by teaching him customary social functions. It does end with Sheldon, Leonard, and Amy going to see the play. They're all shocked by how good Penny is as the acting lessons seem to have payed off. Sheldon's final backhanded compliment is that he's shocked she can learn so many lines when she can barely remember his orders right. A great and funny segment.

The Monster Isolation is a pretty great effort by the Big Bang Theory. It could have been a lot better if it could have found a way to slightly develop Lucy more. She's just too bland right now to properly work as a love interest. This was a funny episode where the Fun with Flags segment really shined and the Raj plot worked perfectly fine. The question becomes whether this episode will be important or not-that's something that only the future can answer.

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