The Big Bang Theory Recap: Season 8, Episode 11: The Clean Room Infiltration

bb1The side story of Raj’s parents’ separation takes a turn for the worse as Raj explains that they’ve hired divorce attorneys. Completely ignoring any empathy that would be appropriate, Sheldon interjects the note that he would never hire She-Hulk to be his attorney since he believes she is an affirmative action hire for the law firm the character works for. Penny notes that his aside was almost on-topic, although it does raise the question of whether Sheldon’s grasp on reality has lessened since the series premiered. His character certainly seems to live in a world of his own creation more than the others, reflecting the worst stereotypes of geekdom.bb2 Raj then draws the attention back to the real world by mentioning that his father is visiting, so he won’t be able to host Christmas dinner. Amy immediately jumps in with the offer to not only host Christmas dinner, but to host a Victorian Christmas dinner. Although Sheldon is less than thrilled with the idea of figgy pudding since he views it as a trick played by the British of replacing real pudding with a bread dish that has raisins in it. Amy insists Sheldon will attend and he accuses her of hating him, but Amy explains that it is because she loves him, why she does given the way he treats her may be the biggest mystery of the show. Other than Sheldon, the group’s positive reaction to her theme celebration only upsets Raj further since the group always rolls their eyes whenever he tries to host a theme party.

bb3Returning from the first commercial break shows Howard and Leonard wearing white clean room suits, setting up some scientific equipment, with Leonard demonstrating that without dust, pollen, or mold in the clean room, his allergies aren’t bothering him. A big inhalation, however, causes an oxygen overdose for him. Those of you with really bad allergies will understand. As they prepare to leave the room, a pigeon flies into the clean room because one of them (Leonard decides it was Howard) forgot to shut the loading dock doors (although most cleanrooms would have an airlock system which would not allow for both doors to be open simultaneously). When Leonard suggests calling “someone” to admit there is a problem with the clean room being compromised, Howard panics at the suggestion, not wanting to get in trouble. Howard suggests turning out all the lights except for one and letting the bird fly to it. Leonard points out that it isn’t a moth and Howard complains that Leonard is yelling at him, which will stifle any further good ideas, the implication being that his first idea was a good idea.

bb5Dr. Koothrappali (Brian George), meanwhile, is relaxing in Amy’s apartment where Penny tries to draw him into conversation while Raj helps Amy prepare for the party (Raj’s girlfriend, Emily, is, as usual, completely absent). He tells her his flight from India was 20 hours, but on the bright side, without Raj’s mother, he found that he wasn’t praying for the plane to crash. Raj asks his father to talk about anything except the divorce, so Dr. Koothrappali asks Penny how she and Leonard are doing (without any references to the fact that Leonard once illicitly dated his own daughter, Priya). However, upon seeing that she and Leonard are engaged, he again turns to his own failed relationship with Raj’s mother. Raj gets a call from Leonard informing him of their bird problem. Raj leaves his father to relax with Amy and Penny and he leaves for the university. Dr. Koothrappali begins talking about his wife cleaning out their bank account and Penny pleads with Raj to take him with, resulting in a perfunctory, and almost gleeful “bye” from Raj as he ducks out the door.

bb9An annoyingly perky Bernadette is driving, singing Christmas carols. A pull back reveals a less then thrilled Sheldon in the passenger seat. Having heard “Santa Clause is Coming to Town,” “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” and “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer,” Sheldon has lost any Christmas spirit he might have had, instead being reminded of his drunk uncle who did all those things. When Bernadette suggests that Santa is a superhero who brings joy to children, Sheldon explains that his uncle was accused of pedophilia as well, following with a dig that pedophilia is legal in Oklahoma. Bernadette asks what Sheldon is getting Amy and he explains that they aren’t exchanging gifts since he doesn’t like Christmas and he only celebrates it because Amy forces him to. This year, she even kissed him in public when they were under the mistletoe. Amy’s character, again, very different from when she was introduced as being as repressed as Sheldon, and again leading the viewer to question why she puts up with him. Living in his own world, Sheldon decides to teach her a heinous lesson and comes up with the idea of buying her a present, thereby causing Amy discomfort since the implied social contract would dictate that she also has to give Sheldon a present that she won’t have since they agreed not to exchange presents, proving Sheldon’s logic is as completely warped as space around a black hole.

bb10The pigeon, perched high on a water pipe allows the cameramen to shoot down on Howard and Leonard, making them appear even shorter than they are. Howard suggests that they put a Slim Jim into a garbage bag to entice the bird down. Leonard makes another play for calling building services, but Howard still doesn’t want to admit that they contaminated the clean room. Leonard points out that Howard has a tendency of avoiding responsibility, mentioning him flipping the Mars Rover (Season 2, Episode 8 “The Lizard-Spock Expansion”), losing Koothrappali’s dog (Season 6, Episode 22 “The Proton Resurgence”), bb11or almost driving off with someone’s baby (as yet unseen). Leonard agrees to try the Slim Jim-Garbage bag technique. As they are arguing about it, Raj enters the room and the bird flies through, grabbing the Slim Jim from Leonard’s hand. Raj looks after the bird and comments that they should have put the Slim Jim in the bag first.

Penny asks Dr. Koothrappali if he would consider dating again and he decides she is trying to set him up, she tells him she’ll call him if Leonard doesn’t work out, as long as he doesn’t talk about Star Trek. Amy decides that they should play traditional Victorian parlor games, like Ball of Wool (as described by Lee Jackson in his 2006 book A Dictionary of Victorian London). Her description of the game, in which people try to blow the ball of wool of the end of the table, makes it almost sound like a ridiculous Victorian version of air hockey.

bb13Howard and Leonard are arguing, with Howard deciding the problem is that Leonard is jealous of Howard’s friendship with Raj. Leonard suggests that Raj lets Howard push him around, but Howard explains that Raj doesn’t think he’s smarter than Howard. Raj tries to tell Howard that he does think he’s smarter than Howard, but Howard shuts him down. Raj tells them to stop fighting since he’s already getting enough of that from his parents, plus it doesn’t matter if Leonard or he is smarter. Howard challenges Raj to get rid of the bird and Raj says that since Howard let the bird in, Howard should fix the problem, not even allowing that Leonard might have let the bird in.

bb16At the mall, Sheldon is looking for the perfect gift to make Amy feel guilty. Bernadette watching Sheldon talk about Amy realizes that he really does love her in his strange Sheldonesque way. Eventually, Sheldon finds his way to Santa’s lap, with Santa trying to figure out Sheldon’s logic and concluding that dating Sheldon is the worst punishment for Amy. Sheldon admits that might be the case, but wants to make sure by giving her a picture of him.

bb14Back at the apartment, Amy and Dr. Koothrappali are blowing a ball of wool back and forth across the table to the strains of Victorian parlor music until Dr. Koothrappali blows the wool off the table. He notes that his wife threw theme parties all the time, leading Penny to comment about how Raj takes after his mother. Dr. Koothrappali explains he was always working when Raj was young, allowing Penny to point out that Raj also has that in common with his mother since Emily is always working as well.bb15

Back in the clean room, Leonard is armed with a fire extinguisher to get the bird airborne, Howard is going to wave a blanket, and Raj will hold the door open to get the bird out. Howard’s comment about whether he’s smart enough to wave a blanket results in him manning the fire extinguisher. Once he figures out how to pull bb17the pin from the extinguisher, a blast causes the bird to fall dead to the floor (missing any gratuitous, or not so gratuitous Monty Python references). Howard looks at the bird declaring not again (missing any gratuitous, or not so gratuitous Hitchhiker Guide references), and when Raj’s asks, “What do you mean ‘not again’?” he explains that he sat on a blue jay and killed it. He tried to bring it back to life by playing Dt. bb18Frankenstein, but only succeeded in making a roast bird. Leonard finds instructions on how to give CPR to birds (yes, you can find instructions on the web). Although Raj and Leonard offer to perform CPR, Howard views it as expiation for his sins. Raj tells him that if he blows too hard and pops the bird, Raj will vomit. The bird comes back to life and they free it, only to have another bird fly in. Howard finally agrees to call Building Services.

bb22Amy managed to inhale a wool ball at the party, while Penny suggests over the phone that they erase their names from the sign in sheet and sneak out. Although they initially refuse, eventually they duck out and make it to dinner, where Raj compliments Amy on the pudding. Sheldon makes a snide comment about raisins, but when Amy points out that they were figs (figgy pudding), he decides it wasn’t that bad. Sheldon offers to exchange gifts and gives Amy his gift. Amy is ecstatic with the gift and Sheldon suggests she should feel bb23guilty or sad or, in a meta joke, wishing she were Jewish (since Mayim Bialik is one of the three Jewish cast members). She loves the gift, especially when he plays the recording that would be sweet from anyone else, but Sheldon was clearly going for irony. Amy then reveals that she actually did get him something, and presents him with cookies baked from his Meemaw’s Christmas cookie recipe. Sheldon takes a bite and allows his face to go back to childhood, explaining that the cookies taste like Meemaw’s hugs.

bb24In the kicker, Amy introduces the game “Hot Boiled Beans” (which goes by several different names in various parts of England). Raj looks at them and points out that his Tom Hanksgiving would have been so much better than Amy’s Victorian Christmas.

In his vanity card at the end of the show, Chuck Lorre explains that he’s going to stop writing new vanity cards for the end of each of his shows, instead trying something new. Lorre has been writing vanity cards since his days on Cybil, but maybe having four shows on the air at once has taken their toll on his card writing. His new version of the cards premiered after his show Mom and Two and a Half Men

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