The Big Bang Theory Recap: 9/4 The 2003 Approximation

The Big Bang Theory continues to flirt with fandom. (Warning: includes Filk)

(Editor’s note:  due to time constraints, this recap episode does not contain our usual screencaps of the episode.  Screen caps will return next week.)

For the second week in a row, the writers have remembered the basic idea behind The Big Bang Theory, allowing the main characters, or at least Raj and Howard, to show that they actually do have some knowledge and understanding of the fannish culture they claim to be a part of. Unfortunately, the show’s depiction comes off mocking rather than endearing and portrays the characters as somewhat clueless about the way they present themselves.

The episode ends with Sheldon, Leonard, and Penny returning from a trip to the container store, which allowed Sheldon to buy himself a new pill caddy and an I-cee, but also allowed Leonard to acquire storage space for his things in Penny’s apartment. Sheldon’s aversion to change, of course, is riled with the discovery that Leonard is planning on moving out.

Feeling betrayed by Penny, unable to turn to Amy, his mother busy with Bible study, Leonard’s mother on a book tour, his grandmother was taking a nap, and Siri was being repetitive, Sheldon decided to turn to Bernadette for advice. In Sheldon’s alternate world view, cracking the top ten, even if it is behind a computer program, is something Bernadette should be proud of. Bernadette suggests that Sheldon should try to find a new roommate. While Sheldon views this as a chance for vengeance against Leonard’s slighting of him, Bernadette views it as a chance to get Stuart out of her house, although Stuart is very adamantly and matter-of-factly against considering the merest possibility of moving in with Sheldon to the extent that the viewer would assume that Stuart would rather move back into the comic book shop.

And at the comic book shop, Raj is looking at an issue of Archie vs. Predator (yes, a real comic). While he and Howard discuss how Archie could possibly take on Predator, Stuart comes over to mention that he’s thinking about adding live music to the store, if he could find musicians who would pay for the right price (free). Raj comments that he and Howard have always talked about playing music together (although apparently never when they were on-screen). Raj suggests that they could play filk music, leading Stuart to ask what filk is and Raj to explain to the viewing audience that filk is folk music with a science fictional/fantasy element to it. Stuart thinks it sounds great, just like the kind of music he shouldn’t have to pay for. Howard wanted to form a band in junior high called Footprints on the Moon, and the duo have a name (cause it is better than Wolowitz and Koothrapalli as a band name). In fact the name gave all three chills, although Stuart thinks he light have Lyme disease.

Throughout the seasons of the show, there have been frequent references to “The Roommate Agreement,” and with Leonard moving out, he has to sign paperwork that negates the existing contract, including initialing that as a former roommate he has turned over his key, as a new neighbor he is being given a spare key, as well as making reservations for the ten year roommate reunion. This does cause one to wonder if Sheldon had a reunion with his former roommate, Sebastian (as seen in season 3, episode 22 “The Staircase Implementation”). Leonard finds signing the document to be more difficult than he thought it would be until Sheldon tries to help by spelling out his name for him.

Raj and Howard begin work on their first filk song, in which Thor and Indiana Jones meet each other. With Howard on his keyboard (previously seen when he was serenading a quarantined Bernadette in season 7, episode 6 “The Romance Resonance), Raj joins in on guitar. The two have completely different musical styles which don’t mesh and the song works its way up to atrocious. Rather than trying to demonstrate what good filk music can be, the show goes for the easy laugh by having the two of them think that their horrible idea, lyrics, and music are good. To make matters worse, Howard seems to take great pride in making up words so he’ll have rhymes.

Sheldon, meanwhile has started the interview process to replace Leonard. A chemist is asked which element is too big for its britches, a potential roomie is dismissed for wearing a Band Aid, and when he finally finds someone he thinks would be a great roommate, it is Amy, who foolishly answered his Skype and is no longer interested in the position. Sheldon begins to grow nostalgic for a time before he met Leonard and began the long slow process of turning into a real boy with feelings and everything. Giving yet more insight into the weird world of Sheldon Cooper, he comments that he was content like the Tinman until the evil wizard gave him a heart (ignoring the fact that the Tinman wanted a heart and the Wizard didn’t give him anything he didn’t already have).

Penny and Leonard are planning dinner and Leonard matter-of-factly comments that it is Thai food night. Penny points out that he no longer has to live with Sheldon’s ridiculous schedules, whether with regard to dining options or times to go to the bathroom. Leonard has a hard time getting his mind around being allowed to make his own decisions, perhaps showing a little sign of Stockholm Syndrome. The whole world of food opening up before him stymies him by presenting too many options. On their way out, they find a Sheldon who has retreated to the year 2003, before he met Leonard. In his world, represented by a flip phone, he has not yet met Penny or Leonard, but apparently doesn’t question what happened to Sebastian.

At dinner, Leonard is worried about the way Sheldon is dealing with the situation. Penny points out that that they aren’t abandoning Sheldon. Amy and Bernadette are also hanging out together with Amy amazed that Sheldon ran a credit check on her. Bernadette offers to let Amy have Stuart as a roomie leading to Amy having one of the best lines of the episode, a deadpan suggestion that Bernadette should have checked to see how long those things (Stuart) lives before getting one. It turns out that Bernadette views Sheldon and Stuart as essentially interchangeable, which Amy bristles at, pointing out Sheldon’s positive qualities.

Sheldon has emptied out his apartment of all the furniture that he had acquired since Leonard moved in. Leonard refuses to let Sheldon hold him up with emotional blackmail, although Sheldon claims he’s merely trying to figure out how to live his life since everyone is leaving him.

Raj is playing his filk song to Emily who is trying to seem enthusiastic, or at least non-comital about how awful it is. Raj explaining the song to her doesn’t help, although when he says he couldn’t find anything to rhyme with boulder, Emily offers up several suggestions. Emily explains that she likes music you can dance to. Dancing to it, Raj realizes that she’s right, you can’t dance to it. He goes to share that fact with Howard, who clearly sees that Emily convinced Raj that the song isn’t as good as it could be. The two get angry and break up the band, almost as quickly as the band in the Monty Python skit “Rock Notes,” but, just as with that multinamed band, they get back together just as quickly.

Sheldon, Leonard, and Penny actually do manage a serious conversation that allows Sheldon to air his very real concerns that this is the first step of the Hofstadters moving out of his life. From having dinner with them daily, it will drop to a couple times a week, then a month, then on special occasions, like Bernadette divorcing Howard or discovering where Emily buried Raj’s body. Rather than being about change, Sheldon is actually concerned with the idea of being alone. Penny is the one who succumbs to his neurosis, agreeing that they don’t need to rush into anything, instead leaving things as status quo, although they’ll need a new roommate agreement.

The kicker has Raj and Howard playing “Hammer and Whip” at the comic book shop to a small crowd which includes all of the rest of the cast, including Emily. As they finish, Stuart calls out “Play something we can dance to.”

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