The Big Bang Theory: “The Weekend Vortex”
A-

The Big Bang Theory: “The Weekend Vortex”

A-

The Big Bang Theory

“The Weekend Vortex”

Season 5, Episode 19

-->-->

By shifting the focus away from madcap slapstick to more character-driven comedy, The Big Bang Theory has been revitalized in the second half of the season, and “The Weekend Vortex” gives everyone a chance to shine, even Raj.  Sheldon decides to ditch Amy’s 93-year-old aunt’s birthday when Raj suggests an old-fashioned weekend sleepover of Star Wars video games and junk food, a decision that sends ripples through all the series’ couples. It’s the best use of the ensemble all season, incorporating all seven cast members seamlessly into a storyline that builds naturally without sacrificing any of the nerd appeal.

Amy followed all the protocols of the relationship agreement to ensure Sheldon’s appearance at her aunt’s party, including filing a written request 72 hours in advance. The finer details of the relationship agreement tend to garner solid laughs, and I hope the writers keep running with those jokes. Sheldon says the agreement isn’t supposed to help either of them get his or her way, it simply outlines the right way, which happens to coincide with his way. It’s classic selfish Sheldon behavior, and he ends up getting away with it.

When the guys hassle Sheldon about being whipped, he decides to act like a grown man and tell Amy he wants to have a sleepover with his friends and play video games. Sheldon does have the right to spend his weekend how he wants, but he’s also being a huge asshole, not taking any of Amy’s feelings into consideration. Mayim Bialik is a great comedian, but she also brings surprising emotion to this show, and the scene of Amy and Sheldon in the car is heartbreaking. Amy shares the real reason why she wants Sheldon to come with her, so that she could show him off and prove that she actually does have a boyfriend, but it has no effect on him. She tries to guilt trip him, but Sheldon doesn’t understand conversational subtext and she ends up going to the party alone.

Penny and Leonard get some forward movement with their beta test plot when Leonard asks Penny what she thinks about him spending the weekend with the boys. She doesn’t care, because it’s not anything new, but Leonard hopes that she’d have a similar response to Amy. Leonard is ready to move out of beta test mode, but Penny is perfectly fine where they’re at. It gives Penny the opportunity to show of some of that acting training of hers, and Kaley Cuoco is really good at being a bad actress (and playing drunk).

Sheldon wants Penny to solve his problem for him, and she chooses not to get involved with his relationship. When Amy comes to her after going to the party alone, Penny has no problem offering Girlfriend 101, which essentially means getting very involved in Sheldon’s relationship. Because withholding sex and the silent treatment don’t work on Sheldon, Penny decides that Amy’s best strategy is to cause a scene, one of Penny’s skills after getting kicked out of two Chili’s.

When Bernadette hears about the boys’ weekend, she invites herself, a request the weakest-willed Howard could never deny. It makes sense for the guys not to want a new player entering their game, for they are a well-oiled machine, finely tuned for MMORPG excellence. With her “pew pew” sound effects, purple robes, and lackluster healing abilities, she’s a liability on the team, and ruining the experience for everyone but Howard.

While the boys carry the burden of Bernadette across the hall, Amy and Penny prepare for their forthcoming scene with a game of quarters, flipping a quarter into a cup and forcing the other to drink. Turns out Amy is quite good at this game, as she hilariously and depressingly explains: “I spent a lot of my childhood throwing coins into wishing wells hoping for friends. At a certain point you start doing trick shots just to keep things interesting.” Amy is looking for companionship through a relationship with Sheldon, but she doesn’t realize that she’ll always come second to his needs. While there are no romantic feelings on her part, Penny is the person Amy is looking for, a friend that will be there not just when it’s convenient for her.

After Amy and Penny’s invade his boys’ weekend, Raj flips his shit, attacking everyone in the vicinity in a 64-calorie beer-fueled blue streak. Raj has been drifting in the background as the series shifts to the couples, and it’s great to see the writers address that. Kunal Nayyar rarely gets time in the spotlight, and he nail Raj’s disgust at being the guy that got a girl after Sheldon Cooper. There’s still the oddly effeminate thing going on with Raj, but in the end the episode ends up being all about him, which is refreshing.

Big Bang Theory takes a break for two weeks, which is good news for a certain other show that shares its time slot. Everyone go watch that show and tell your friends to watch it for two weeks, then meet me back here on March 29th.  

Stray observations:

  • Jim Parsons is starting to get very buff, which is very odd.
  • That whip app is going to have a whole lot of downloads tonight.
  • Armand the miniature horse breeder should make a real appearance one episode.
  • “They called the cops because of the smell. They thought we were dead.”
  • “It’s on like Alderaan!”
  • “Sorry stallion, your weird friend giraffe is here.”
  • “You’re right. I’m smart as a whip, I should be able to figure this out.”

More TV Club