Episode 13 - The Recombination Hypothesis
23 January 2012
Synopsis: Leonard spontaneously asks Penny out on a date. It doesn't go well but they sleep together anyway. He suggests that they keep their relationship a secret and see how it works before telling anyone.
The Good: I really enjoyed most of this. TBBT rarely leaves its standard perspective or presentation so almost any change has me intrigued. The way Leonard just asked Penny out with no build up was interesting and the mystery hung in the air as to why he had chosen that moment to do it. The twist ending was then quite a relief as their imagined relationship began to fall apart again. Instead of just a replay of their bickering what we were seeing was Leonard's imagination at work. Despite believing that they are doomed to break up again he still had to ask her out. He likes her so much that the risk is worth taking.
That's a good story and the twist was well executed. The reality we saw felt very plausible. Initially Leonard seemed more confident than usual. But as soon as things started to go well he pushed for more and scared Penny off. Even in his imagination Leonard knows what he wants from her and can't just let things flow. From Penny's side (though obviously this is Leonard's construction) she remained drawn to him but unwilling to commit which is about all we know really.
I enjoyed the background banter from the gang. Sheldon's talk of lizard humans was typically clever and Amy's favouritism toward Penny (over Bernadette) was played well.
The Bad: All my issues with The Big Bang Theory were captured in the scene where Leonard had to convince Sheldon that he had really crossed the street to pee at the gas station. What this episode was crying out for was a speech from Leonard about why he loves Penny so much. He could have said it's because she is his dream. The beautiful blonde who accepts him for the geek he is etc. Or he could actually go more specific and talk about how their interactions make him feel or any number of things that real people say. With a responsive audience on hand to go "awww" it could have been a scene that cemented Leonard as the plucky underdog in love who we support. None of that came and the writers focussed instead on giving funny lines to Sheldon. I really think we needed that scene. The ending where Leonard says he's thought it through but still wants to go out with her is adequate but it's not enough.
The endless "wood" jokes were tedious.
Comic Highlight: At the Cheesecake Factory Leonard and Penny begin arguing about their failed date. "You know why we can't be together? Because you always have to be right" she says. Leonard disagrees and Sheldon helpfully chips in that Leonard "is wrong more than anyone I know."
In Conclusion: This really was a nice departure from the norm. If next week we get proper follow up and a detailed discussion of Leonard and Penny's relationship then that would be great. But after five seasons of "character development" we still don't know much about Penny. She's able to sum herself up with one play and one commercial and that's it.
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