After forgoing a holiday story last season, The Big Bang Theory is possessed by the Christmas spirit for “The Santa Simulation,” an episode that finds Leonard sending his friends on a Dungeons & Dragons quest to save Santa Claus. The Christmas-based obstacles begin to awaken memories of Sheldon’s childhood, and like most of this show’s holiday episodes, the plot helps make Sheldon a more sympathetic character. He could definitely use that right now, because this season has seen Sheldon transition over to the Dark Side.
All the coupled men ditch their ladies to play Dungeons & Dragons, so the women turn Sheldon and Leonard’s living room into a makeshift runway to show the boys what they’re missing before they head off for a girls’ night out. Raj has already been killed by a cannonball in the game and is sipping on a beer, giving him the courage to invite himself to join the women as they hit the bar. When Raj is playing Dungeons & Dragons, it becomes clear who the writers have been trying to turn him into: Tobias Fünke. During the game, Raj says things like, “Oh man, the first monster I see, I’m gonna sneak up behind him, whip out my wand, and shoot my magic all over his ass,” and “Get in here with your rod and give it to me.” Stuart the comic guy takes on the Michael Bluth role, telling Raj to think about what he says before actually saying it out loud.
Putting Raj with the ladies is a smart move, and it’s nice to see a Raj that is comfortable around women without being cartoonishly drunk. There’s plenty of champagne flowing, but Raj is relatively composed, breaking down what he looks for in a woman and lamenting his missed opportunities with Penny and Bernadette. Amy is insulted that Raj never had a crush on her, and she switches into self-pity mode, talking about how she’s used to being ignored. Raj and Amy bond over their mutual loneliness, and for a moment it seems like the writers might be setting up an Amy/Raj pairing, but once it becomes clear that Raj has made a connection, Amy breaks it off. She just wanted him to feel attracted to her, and once she succeeds they can all leave.
An Amy/Raj pairing would probably work out very well for the two characters, and would help make Sheldon more of a hero when he goes after the guy who took his girlfriend. Mayim Bialik and Kunal Nayyar have great chemistry, and it’s believable that these two characters could eventually find each other and have a sexual relationship. It seems like Amy will never get laid if she keeps dating Sheldon, and maybe it’s time for her to move on. That is, unless Raj is gay. First there are his homoerotic comments, then the impossibly high standards he sets for women so that he never actually has to be with one. There’s no denying that Raj is starting to seem pretty gay, but until he actually makes a move on a guy, there’s no way to actually tell. Hopefully, the writers will commit to a decision soon, one way or the other.
Sheldon starts the episode off as a Grinch, unhappy with unnatural Christmas traditions like keeping trees inside, the usage of ’tis and ’twas, and the hanging of one stocking when everyone knows socks come in pairs. He hates the idea of Leonard’s Christmas game, but he’s also remarkably good at it, and Sheldon can grow to enjoy anything if it gives him the chance to feel superior. In order to escape a trap, Sheldon must sing “Good King Wenceslas,” sending him on a trip down memory lane to Christmases past when he would listen to his grandparents sing Christmas carols. It turns out that Sheldon had fantastic Christmas experiences, while Leonard’s academic family would force him to leave Santa a research paper. Leonard is trying to make up for years of C– Santa grades by combining the traditional Christmas experience he was robbed of with something he loves as an adult, while Sheldon would like to just write the research paper.
When the players finally find the brutally beaten Santa Claus in the dungeon, Sheldon reveals why he hates Christmas so much. When he was 5, he met Santa at the mall and asked for his Pop Pop for Christmas, but Santa was unable to bring Sheldon’s grandfather back from the dead. Pop Pop was the only person in Sheldon’s family who encouraged him to pursue science, and understanding this childhood trauma helps put Sheldon’s personal problems in perspective. Because of the Lincoln Logs he received at age 5, Sheldon leaves Santa to die in the dungeon, kicking him on the way out. It’s an unfair move, but Santa will get his revenge when he haunts Sheldon’s dreams during the tag. There isn’t any heartwarming message at the end of this holiday episode, just disappointment for all the major players, but that can be refreshing on a goofy show like The Big Bang Theory; a little bit of sad makes the laughs that much bigger.
- Penny and Bernadette sure know how to turn up the cheesecake when they go out. Amy is a Saltine cracker.
- The laugh track is extra annoying this week, and there’s a whole lot of time dedicated to whooping and awwing. No studio audience has ever been that excited to hear “Jingle Bells” played on actual bells.
- “Oh, you poor thing. Is having a real life girlfriend who has sex with you getting in the way of your board games?”
- “Mixing Dungeons & Dragons with Christmas is like making a sandwich of grape jelly, the best-tasting jelly, and petroleum jelly, the worst-tasting jelly.”
- “In college, I passed out a frat party and woke up with more clothes on.”
- “Sometimes I get so lonely, I sit on my left hand until it goes numb, then put it in my right hand and pretend I’m holding hands with another person.”