Instead of a holiday episode, The Big Bang Theory presents a story this week that condemns forgiveness and encourages stealing from the poor. “The Speckerman Recurrence” is one of the better episodes of the season, a character-driven story exploring a fundamental element of nerd life: bullies. When Leonard’s high school bully Jimmy Speckerman sends him a Facebook message inviting him out for drinks, he sees an opportunity to get an apology for all the suffering he put up with as a teen. Meanwhile, Bernadette and Amy learn that Penny was a mean girl in high school, but when they try to help her shed her newfound guilt, they end up getting corrupted. The best thing about tonight’s episode is that the two separate plots are held together by a common thread, and it gives the story a greater sense of focus. The two gender camps stay separate for most of the episode, but they stay connected through their material.
It’s nice to have a great Penny/Sheldon episode, and even though they don’t share many scenes, Jim Parsons and Kaley Cuoco dominate their respective storylines. The two characters have always been a little off, but this week they’re flat out crazy, like serial killer crazy. Penny laughs as she recalls how she and her friends blindfolded Kathy Geiger for getting good grades, tied her up, and left her in a cornfield overnight. When Leonard invites Jimmy Speckerman to stay in their apartment because he’s too drunk to drive home, Sheldon suggests that they kill him in his sleep, as a symbolic gesture to all the people that bullied them in the past. And he’s not joking.
Penny’s a horrible person, and it makes for great comedy. She makes fun of a stuttering girl while trying to apologize for being a bitch in high school, and when she donates clothes to the poor, she ends up taking clothes out of the bin for herself. The only reason she’s even donating is to make space in her closet, not out of any sort of genuine desire to see the poor helped, and it’s a whole lot of fun to see Penny suck Amy and Bernadette into her selfish worldview. Girls like Penny stole all of Bernadette’s clothes and put an oversized elf costume in her locker. Girls like Penny put Rogaine in Amy’s hand cream and called her “Gorilla Fingers Fowler.” But girls like Penny were also who young Bernadette and Amy wanted to be, and now that they finally have acceptance from a mean girl, they take on her behavior.
Leonard is so pathetic this episode that he brings Sheldon, Raj, and Howard with him when he gets a drink with Jimmy. He doesn’t have the balls to actually confront Jimmy, so Sheldon does it for him, and it’s refreshing to see Sheldon do something nice for another person without expecting a reward. It makes him a more human character, and he becomes a lot more tolerable when he returns to being obnoxious. Because Jimmy is nice when he’s drunk and mean when he’s sober, Leonard ends up getting two different types of closure. He hears an apology at night and gets to stand up for himself in the morning, and even though both gestures are largely meaningless, he’s less pathetic by the end than he was at the start.
It seems like Amy is just going into straight-up lesbian territory now, openly flirting and exclaiming her affections for Penny. I approve, especially when it means lines like this: “I was gleefully following you to a life of crime looking forward to the day we might be cellmates.” Wouldn’t it be a great twist if Penny and Amy ended up together? I would enjoy watching that. (Not like that, you pervs.)
- That’s an awesome melting Rubik’s cube shirt Sheldon is wearing.
- The new wi-fi password: Pennyalreadyeatsourfoodshecanpayforwifi
- Annie is the first movie Raj watches with Jimmy’s imaginary 3D glasses. I hope they really are going with a “Raj is gay” storyline.
- Leonard wet the bed until he was 14, and it’s apparently his mother’s fault. I’m not sure I want to know the story behind that.
- It is pretty crazy that Pope John Paul II was named an honorary Harlem Globetrotter in 2000. I’ll give Sheldon that.
- “You weren’t just called a b-b-b-b-bitch.”
- “Which word’s tripping you up: ‘assuage’ or ‘altruism’?”
- “You’re soft; this world’s gonna chew you up and spit you out.”
- “It’s OK, I serve soup to poor people!”