Episode 7 - The Good Guy Fluctuation
23 January 2012
Synopsis: Howard, Raj and Leonard play a Halloween prank that scares Sheldon badly. He plots his revenge but they keep foiling his attempts. Leonard meets a cute girl, Alice, and is tempted to cheat on Priya with her. He can't go through with it though and is shocked to learn that Priya has already cheated on him.
The Good: This was very enjoyable. The two plots were set up early on, both were clear and easy to get into with clear motivations for all involved.
The Sheldon story played to his strengths. His inability to be subtle and hide his real motives make pranks ideal comedy. The opening prank was suitably thorough to make it believable that he would fall for it and his subsequent revenge attempts were equally grand. I liked the way the gang clearly worked together to foil Sheldon's plots and the fun in each scene was to picture how his plans would fail. The conclusion was a little simple for Sheldon but there was dramatic surprise in him popping out from under the sofa cushions to frighten Leonard.
Leonard's story was really good. It was a simple moral dilemma that anyone and particularly guys could relate to. With Priya gone and a girl throwing herself at him it was easy to see why he was so tempted. His conversations with Penny and Sheldon were very enjoyable as he explained himself well and their reactions to his dilemma fit their characters well. I liked that Penny knew instantly how to handle the moral dilemma. Either you accept you are cheating on Priya or you can't be with another girl. It really was as simple as that and Leonard's attempt to have his cake and eat it made him look like a douche in a believable way. The predictable news that Priya had already cheated on him was a nice note to finish on. We knew their breakup was coming but enough time has passed that it hasn't felt like a flippant breakup. There may even be more narrative to come before they are finally done.
This episode was a great example of my argument that when plots flow well the dialogue around it can be funnier as a result. Stuart's silly rule that anyone who picks up a girl in the comic book store goes on the Wall of Heroes suddenly became a funny moment because Leonard was so clearly proud of his achievement. Sheldon carrying the snake gingerly into his office saying "Oh dear" over and over again felt like exactly how he would react to this unsanitary act. Leonard is very polite to Penny and doesn't want to seek her advice if she will be upset by the conversation. So he points out that they used to date and she responds deadpan "That's where I know you from!" Sheldon shocks himself and creates a loop of current that it takes him a while to break. He gets up, shaken, perhaps taking in the fact that he just suffered from the very prank he is designing for Howard but simply concludes "Perfect!" When Leonard walks in he dismisses his question of what he is up to by saying "Science, you wouldn't understand." We even get to see Sheldon note how unsettling it is that Bernadette has begun to sound like Howard's mother. None of these gags on their own was particularly funny but they flowed so beautifully out of the simple stories that I wrote in my notes "loving this." This is what a sit com should feel like: a fun ride you can get lost in and laugh along at the silliness unfolding.
The Bad: It would be nice if Leonard weren't still offering girls his car when they hit on him. But to be fair I actually thought his attempts to play the good guy despite actually being a bad guy were pretty believable. It was a simple moral tale about trying to have everything and not being honest.
Comic Highlight: Probably Sheldon shocking himself and concluding that it was "Perfect!" When he is set on something and ignores the actual consequences of what he is doing comedy comes naturally.
In Conclusion: This was such a simple episode and it was really effective. It drove the plot while making use of the season and the characters.
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