“The Stag Convergence” S5 / E22
- C+ Community Grade
This week’s episode is all about shedding old skin and discovering new potential, so it’s fitting that the two separate plots represent what this show started off as and what it can become. While the guys are roasting Howard at his stripper-free bachelor party, the girls are planning the upcoming event, and Bernadette is beginning to understand the reality of marrying Howard Wolowitz. The male story is more of the same, bringing in some recurring guest stars to liven up the occasion, but the ladies continue to surpass the guys by exploring new territory with their plot.
The episode begins with the usual scene of the four men gathered around the lunch table. Sheldon asks if they could merge with any other species, what would it be? Raj says a swan, the start of his increasingly effeminate behavior this episode, because he’s always wanted a long, graceful neck. Leonard says horse, because of the height and genital girth, foreshadowing his C-plot of showing Penny that he can be impulsive. And Howard says a kanga
rooJew, the first of his kind that could slam-dunk a basketball (and he can live in his mama’s pouch). It’s a quick series of jokes spotlighting each characters’ individual personalities and insecurities and a familiar start to a completely conventional episode.
After the opening scene, Penny and Leonard make their typical trek up the stairs, and their building’s broken elevator has become a symbol of the show’s reluctance to change and grow. Many of the episodes of this last half of the season have stood out by bringing the stories of both sexes together, and this week segregates the gang again, pointing out the strengths and weaknesses that have been recurring the entire season. Like most of the scenes featuring just the guys, Howard’s bachelor party feels very been there, done that. The presence of Stuart, Barry, and Wil Wheaton lends to that feeling, although I’ve never been a fan of Barry or Wil on this show. (Their jokes wore thin fairly quickly, and in Barry’s case, immediately.)
While the boys are imbibing, the girls are setting up gift bags for the wedding, and Amy is filming the entire affair. It’s been a while since Amy was on the show, and she gets some of the episode’s best lines. This episode focuses on the differences between Howard and Bernadette, differences that she is largely oblivious to. When Bernadette talks about the fun wedding website Howard set up with fun facts about their family, she mentions that her and Howie’s families were neighbors in Poland. “That’s cool,” Penny says. Amy quickly responds, “No, it's not, I’ll explain it to you later.” This episode has a lot of Jew humor, and Mayim Bialik and Simon Helberg are the perfect people to deliver it.
At the bachelor party, Raj gives a speech in which he reveals that Howard lost his virginity to his second cousin and that the two of them had a threesome with an overweight woman in a Sailor Moon costume. (Not gay at all.) Wil Wheaton is recording the entire rant, and Bernadette sees the video online, bringing the stories together for a much stronger last act.
After learning of Howard’s cousin/hooker-humping and his threeway with Raj, the curtain is peeled away from Bernadette’s eyes, and she realizes just how much of a skeeze the man she is supposed to marry really is. She probably also just got that Nazi/Jew thing from earlier. She lashes out at Penny, who set the two of them up, but her mind is changed when Howard arrives at her door and apologizes. While Bernadette is locked in her bedroom, Howard tells Penny that the old, disgusting version of him is gone, and Bernadette is responsible for that transformation. Even if she doesn’t want to marry him, he wants to let her know that he’s a changed man, and it’s a speech that wins over everyone. It also gives Helberg the opportunity to show some emotional range, and he creates an image of Howard that is very easy to love. The writers fixed Howard; now they just need to fix the elevator.
- I don’t think I like the “Stuart is a penniless comic book retailer” storyline. I like the Big Bang fantasy of crazy successful comic book stores.
- “Even if there was a stripper, all you’d do is avoid eye contact and maybe offer to help her kid with his homework.”
- “Let’s check in with a beautiful, radiant young woman, and her friend that’s about to get married.”
- “And then for Howie’s relatives we have antihistamines, antacids, and medicines for diarrhea and constipation.” “We labeled them ‘stop’ and ‘go.’”
- “I’m curious what’s bothering you most: the borderline incest, the prostitute, or the group sex with the girl dressed as a children’s cartoon?”
- “Perhaps you should give him a taste of his own medicine. Do you have any cousins you find attractive?”