THE BIG BANG THEORY RECAP: S08: EP:21 The Communication Deterioration

Shades of Damon Knight’s To Serve Man…

Once again around the lunch table, Sheldon offers to perform some filk that he has written to get kids interested in science. Leonard is incredulous when Howard says he would like to hear them until Howard explains that he likes music, science, and making fun of Sheldon. Sheldon begins singing about James Clark Maxwell to the tune of BINGO, which really does not scan properly. When they cut him off, he begins some of his other horrible filk songs and Leonard and Howard are saved by the Raj’s appearance and his announcement that he has been invited to compose a message to alien life to go aboard NASA’s Discovery class missions. Leonard has experience with alien life and notes he shouldn’t sit in the alien’s spot, to which Sheldon points out that Leonard can’t breathe the atmosphere and Howard is allergic to a basic food. When Raj asks for help, Sheldon and Howard begin warning Raj how not to create the message delivery system. Realizing that if he brings them on board, it will be entirely their project, he decides that only Leonard will be allowed to help him.

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Unfortunately when Leonard shows up at Raj’s house after the opening sequence, Raj and Leonard realize that neither of them are alpha males, and may, in fact, be omegas. Their discussion of how to start brings to mind the four Beatles-esque vultures from Disney’s The Jungle Book sitting around saying, “So what are we gonna do?” It isn’t too long before they consider calling Sheldon and Howard, only to reject the idea and go back to their Jungle Book vulture imitation.

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Without Leonard around, Penny goes to get some advice from Sheldon, because apparently she’s never seen The Big Bang Theory and doesn’t know how that always turns out. She knocks on their door and copies Sheldon’s triple knock with a proud look on her face. Sheldon opens the door and comments how satisfying it is, and she’ll never want to stop. Although Sheldon has claimed it isn’t a compulsion, he has, in the past, continued the knock/name combination when interrupted early. Rather than listen to what Penny wants to ask him, he defines the topics of conversation as Quantum Mechanics, trains, or flags. Her question about her acting career, alas, isn’t on his list. She persists and explains that she loves pharmaceutical sales she also wants to audition for a film role (presumably in Kevin Smith’s film mentioned in the previous episode). Although Sheldon knows what she should do, he refuses to tell her since he is trying to turn over a new leaf in line with what Raj said earlier. Despite this, he admits that he’ll consider just about anything Penny says or does as Penny dragging his advice out of him.

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Howard is making molecular cocktails in his kitchen alone since Raj is busy with Leonard and posting pictures of cocktails on Instagram is his revenge. Bernadette points out how childish he is and she doesn’t quite believe him when Howard claims he has a dominant personality.

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Rather than giving Penny direct advice, he gives her a lesson in train anatomy. Penny uses the trains as an analogy for her dilemma and Sheldon tells her to go on the audition, but not burn any bridges. Penny explains that she didn’t ask Leonard because she knows that he wouldn’t be supportive.

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Raj and Leonard are trying to figure out what to do and get sidetracked by a discussion of E.T.: The Extraterrestrial. What they realize is that they have to take into consideration different modes of communication. They get excited as the figure out what they need to do and also realize that their solution is exactly what Howard and Sheldon had already suggested.

Howard and Sheldon are in the cafeteria where Sheldon is continuing to torture Howard with his terrible filk. Leonard and Raj show up and Raj is apologetic and invites them to join his project after all. When Leonard suggest they work on it tonight, Sheldon takes him to task for trying to control Raj’s project, but when Raj suggests working on it right away, Sheldon tells him that the evening works better for him.

That evening, Raj suggests that they stay focused and positive, building on each previous idea. Sheldon builds on that by announcing that they should order in dinner, which leads to several comments, each a non-sequitor to the prior comment, but each of which starts out with the magic phrase “building on that…” When Howard fails yo use the phrase, Sheldon declares him out and Leonard points out that they aren’t playing “Simon Says.”

Penny, meanwhile, has gone to her audition, only to find a room full of Penny clones. Chelsea, the woman sitting next to her, asks why she hasn’t been auditioning lately and Penny explains that she’s in pharmaceutical sales. Apparently she isn’t the only one who is sick of auditioning and the idea of good money in pharmaceutical sales is alluring to some of the other actress wannabees. Of course, when Chelsea is called, she puts on a big fake smile and disappears. The woman on Penny’s other side offers her words of encouragement and then shares the secret that Chelsea is really forty and plastic, a rumor that Penny apparently started before going into sales.

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Having settled on the message delivery system, the four scientists begin arguing over the message. Sheldon doesn’t like the idea of sending pictures of people since it seems to him like an invitation to a predator race. Raj, on the other hand, favors sending out a Frank Frazetta type image of a person holding a tiger’s head to show that humans aren’t to be messed with. When Howard calls him on being passive aggressive, Raj brings up the molecular cocktail pictures on Instagram. Sheldon isn’t willing to let go of being left out initially, which sparks a conversation about Sheldon and Howard always getting their way. Raj points out Howard and Sheldon’s trip to Texas and Howard brings up the recent trip to Skywalker Ranch and Leonard points out Sheldon’s day with James Earl Jones, which leads Sheldon to realize that clearly good things happen when he’s around. While it is nice to see the writers referring back to earlier episodes, listing them off the way they did in this scene almost feels lazy and padded.

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Finally, Penny is sitting in her apartment with Bernadette and Amy and talking about all the negative emotions that auditioning brought back. Amy can’t believe that Penny walked out on an audition. Penny did, although she also admits that she read for the part and was awful before she left. Penny realizes that she never thanked Bernadette for getting her the job. Bernadette points out that a proper thanks should come with dinner (of course, Penny connected Bernardette with her husband, so either Bernadette is still in Penny’s debt or Penny really needs absolution from Bernadette). Amy decides that she should also go to the dinner since it would be awkward to exclude her.

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And the kicker is an alien race watching Sheldon giving them directions to Earth with the aliens discussing how delicious and edible the humans are.

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