Episode 23 - The Engagement Reaction
13 May 2011
Synopsis: Bernadette goes out to lunch with Howard's mother to get to know one another. Howard then tells his mother that they are engaged and she has a heart attack. The gang assemble at the hospital but Sheldon doesn't want to be there for fear of catching deadly germs. Priya and Penny compare notes on Leonard while Raj teases him.
The Good: This was fine in most ways.
The irony of Sheldon walking into a biohazard room after spending the whole episode avoiding germs was good. I particularly liked the way Penny shamed him into coming to the hospital (using his Super Hero t-shirt). It suits her character to cut through his motives and push his buttons in a way that Leonard's whining can't do.
The story of Howard's mother learning about his engagement is a logical one to tell. Penny and Priya finding common ground was ok as was Raj amusing himself by teasing everyone and making jokes (see Comic Highlight).
The Bad: This felt lightweight. It felt like an older episode when the show had less momentum. It felt a bit like "the gang go to the hospital this week. Laugh at Sheldon's fear of germs and Raj's lack of a life." There's nothing especially wrong with having a quiet episode but the plot felt like it came to a halt and then practically went backwards.
I assumed the momentum of the stories was leading to more conflict between Bernadette and Howard over their engagement. And especially between Leonard-Priya and Penny. Instead Bernadette is accepted by Howard's mother, no problem. The writers didn't really build up a sense that Howard was doing anything wrong for it to be much of a punch line when Bernadette got mad at him. I guess the joke was that he was turned on by Bernadette yelling like his mum does but I don't want to think about that. Similarly Penny and Priya spend some time together and get on fine. Perhaps too fine as swapping Leonard sexual anecdotes feels like a weird thing for Priya to do. She asked Leonard to stop seeing Penny yet now she is happy to share personal details? I don't think either of these developments is necessarily bad but after half a season of these stories building up I'm starting to think there will be no payoff.
Surely a biohazard room would have a locked door?
Comic Highlight: As usual the show gets good mileage out of a simple geek prop. The guys are playing one of their fantasy card games and after each card is played Raj makes a witty faux-gangster comment on each one. Some were better than others but this exchange made me smile:
L: "Hell hounds."
R: "Hell hounds! Who let the Satanic Dogs out? Who! Who! Who!"
H: "Colossal Serpent."
R: "I've got a Colossal Serpent right here!"
In Conclusion: A perfectly adequate episode but after the last few it felt like a letdown.
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