I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am still blissful over the return of the writers. Even more so, since this episode of The Big Bang Theory topped the previous one. If it continues to improve exponentially, just imagine where we will be by the end of the truncated season! Of course, there is also the risk of implosion, but we won’t think about that just yet.
The show starts with Leonard and Sheldon returning home after running some errands, where they encounter some exceptionally horrific caterwauling in the stairwell. They are just about to turn tail and run when Penny appears and invites them to the one night revue of Rent that she will be appearing in. Leonard immediately tosses off a lie about he and Sheldon attending a symposium to allow them to escape the possibly ear shattering experience of hearing Penny sing with the full power of a microphone on her person and our episode is off and running. I have to admit that as much as I enjoy the little vignettes that typically start the show, I did prefer jumping right into the dilemma of the evening.
I was always told not to lie because you could end up lying to cover your lies ad infinitum. Which sounds exhausting. Yet, as the show quickly sinks into it’s lying center, I never imagined the lying would be quite so involved. But then again, I never had a room mate with quite the degree of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder that Sheldon has. It begins when he awakens Leonard at 2 a.m. to confess that he feels "very uncomfortable" about the lie to Penny because of how easily she may discover there is no symposium. You know, if she happened to go to the Physics department’s website, surf to their activities page, local subset, to the "other" subheading, download the PDF file and double check the dates.
Though Leonard, being of the more rational mindset, ignores Sheldon’s rising discomfort, his room mate goes on ahead and creates a new situation. He confesses to Penny that Leonard lied to her. He let’s Leonard know shortly thereafter, in order to let him in on the more elaborate and apparently therefore detection proof lie he has concocted. In order to make Leonard’s original lie seem honorable, Sheldon told Penny that he had lied to save Sheldon from the embarrassment of revealing the truth: that there was no symposium, but that they were driving to Long Beach to take part in a drug intervention for Sheldon’s first cousin "Leopold". Who sometimes goes by "Leo" or "Lee". Sheldon explains that Leonard’s lie was laughably transparent, while his own is so beautifully convoluted as to be impenetrable. So much so that he has fabricated a Facebook profile, a Myspace page complete with blogs following Leopold’s descent into drug abuse and a sadly needy eHarmony profile. The best part of the lie is that if ever Penny invites them to hear her sing again, they can tell her that Leopold relapsed and further, she has agreed to act as if Leonard’s initial lie is the truth.
Of course, this perfection could only occur in a vacuum. A vacuum that does not contain other friends, such as Howard and Rajesh, who come over and are told that Leonard and Sheldon are going to a symposium to hear Farmen Farmium speak and all heck breaks loose. As Howard protests: "you are bogarting the symposium! You’re quark blocking us!" Which leads to the reveal of Leonard’s first lie and slides right into revealing Sheldon’s second lie as the new truth.
But OCD is an insidious disease and before too long Sheldon is convinced that his second lie lacks believability based on the research he has recently reviewed in regards to treatment outcomes for recovering addicts. He believes this to be especially confounded by the fact that his imagined first cousin is a middle child with all the personality syndromes thereof. Hey! I’m a middle child! I don’t crave attention in any form or fashion, be it negative or positive, to the extent of destroying my own life in order to garner it! Do I?
My neurosis doesn’t touch Sheldon’s however, as is proven when Leonard wakes to find a skinny guy in a ripped denim vest sitting at the kitchen counter. It’s cousin Leopold, of course! At first, I figure him to be a hired actor found online whom Penny will recognize. It’s much more delicious to find out he was a dual major: physics and theater. And so, it makes much more sense when Leopold and Sheldon break down into a debate about whether or not Leopold had a genetic predisposition to addiction or was rather nurtured to it by the rough life of a Navy brat who was molested by a Chaplin with a clubfoot in the Philippines. Yeah, it’s just as confusing as it sounds.
The show ends rather anti-climatically, with Leopold snuggling up with Penny on the couch as Leonard and Sheldon look on. Leonard asks how long Leopold will be staying with them, only to have Sheldon explain that he’s a homeless drug addict with no where to go and Leonard should have thought of all this before he lied to Penny. It’s not an ideal ending, to be sure, especially since I don’t know that we will be seeing more of Leopold or not. But the episode delivered enough laughs to make me not really care.
The Good: The tightening up of the script. It seemed to flow much smoother tonight.
The Bad: Rajesh said not a single line. We still are not getting a real ensemble feel.
The Funny: Oh man. So much! I think I want to find a situation in which to declare "My trousers will not be igniting today!" but I worry about finding the right context. That aside, here are my two favorite exchanges:
Sheldon: Leonard lied to you and I am feeling very uncomfortable about it.
Penny: Imagine how I am feeling!
Sheldon: Hungry? Tired? This really isn’t my strong suit.
Penny: How are you feeling?
Leopold: Have you ever woken up in a fleabag motel, covered in your own vomit, next to a transsexual prostitute?
Leopold: Then don’t ask me how I’m feeling!