The Big Bang Theory: "The White Asparagus Triangulation"
B

The Big Bang Theory: "The White Asparagus Triangulation"

B

The Big Bang Theory

"The White Asparagus Triangulation"

Season 2, Episode 9
B

The Big Bang Theory

"The White Asparagus Triangulation"

Season 2, Episode 9

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Hello. What is shaking? Do you find the weather satisfying? Are you currently sharing the triumph of some local sports team?

Pardon my casual tone. Just desiring to converse with you about tonight's Big Bang Theory. Generally speaking, I thought "The White Asparagus Triangulation" was another solid episode, with the "funny lines" to "cringey geekishness" ratio tilting heavily toward the former. (Which is more or less how I judge my BBT: how much it makes me laugh versus how much it makes me roll my eyes.) And yet I was a little let down too, because for a brief moment, I thought the standard Third Wheel sitcom scenario was about to be subverted, and turned into something else.

You're famililar with The Third Wheel Plot, right? Like in that one episode of The Andy Griffith Show where Goober's constant tagging along threatens the romantic solitude of Andy and Helen and Barney and Thelma Lou? In "The White Asparagus Triangulation," the Third Wheel is Sheldon, who's interfering with the budding relationship between Leonard and Stephanie, in the name of keeping it alive. See, Stephanie is the first one of Leonard's girlfriends that Sheldon has liked. (When Penny protests, Sheldon murmurs, "The statement stands for itself.") Sheldon sees Stephanie as the "Dr. McCoy" to complete the gang's Star Trek crew, and he's not going to let Leonard screw it up.

Sheldon's methods include intruding on their dinner date in order to keep the conversation lively, by telling an anecdote about the time he suffered radiation burns from building his own CT Scanner as a kid. ("I was briefly able to see the inside of my sister's guinea pig, Snowball, before he caught fire.") And making sure that they're sitting in an acoustic sweet spot at the movie theater. ("Sometimes he brings a toy xylophone," Leonard explains.) And, most disastrously, trying to establish Leonard as the household's alpha male by letting him open a jar of asparagus. (Sheldon explains that this display will cause Stephanie to secrete oxytocin, stimulating "the feeling that lay people call "falling in love.'") Unfortunately, Leonard fails to open the lid, and instead breaks the jar, causing him to suffer a deep gash that Stephanie has to stitch up at the hospital. Also, he throws up.

About halfway through this episode, when Sheldon started pestering Penny for clues as to why she and Leonard didn't make it as boyfriend and girlfriend, I thought, "Aha! What clever misdirection! The writers have been leading us on with The Third Wheel Plot, but this episode is really going to be about Penny confronting her unresolved feelings for Leonard." But alas, sometimes the no-big-dealness of The Big Bang Theory–usually a plus–can be a letdown, leaving plots to dangle indefinitely.

Still, I was happy with the way this episode resolved, with Sheldon hacking Leonard's Facebook account in order to update his status to "in a relationship." Leonard's furious at first, because Sheldon doesn't realize what a dating faux-pas that is, but within minutes, Stephanie has updated her status too. Between that moment and the discussion of Stephanie "throwing a digital sheep from some guy named Mike," I started to get a deeper understanding of why I like this show. As much as I enjoy How I Met Your Mother and it's attempt to make whimsical notions like "The Naked Man" into an actual thing, I really appreciate that BBT is sharp enough not just to make real contemporary references, but to do so accurately.

Grade: B

Stray observations:

-Suh-up?

-Sheldon has to complete his standard triple knock, even though Penny has already answered the door.

-Have you ever witnessed a violent crime?

-Raj and Howard's advice for keeping Leonard and Stephanie's relationship alive involve "apocalyptic genocide" and "go easy on the cologne," respectively.

-What's your favorite fruit?

-As long as you're vomiting, coitus is contra-indicated.

-How would The Civil War have gone differently if Lincoln had been a robot sent from the future?

-It's hardly hacking when you use the same password for everything: Kal-el.

-Where are you in your menstrual cycle?

-FYI: I was defrosting a steak in there.

-Peace out.

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