Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Big Bang Theory 4.07: "The Apology Insufficiency"

“It doesn’t matter. They’ll find a way to give me a one-way ticket back to Ghandiville. And by the way, when I say that, it’s not offensive.”

“The Apology Insufficiency” was another episode of “The Big Bang Theory” without much substance, but it was somewhat saved by the return of Penny. Kaley Cuoco, who broke her leg earlier this fall in a horseback riding accident, had to be propped up behind the Cheesecake Factory bar or sitting in Sheldon and Leonard’s living room, but I was glad to see she was back. She brings warmth and heart to the show that can be lacking when she’s not around. Another interesting aspect of this episode was a guest starring turn by Eliza Dushku, who we last saw starring in one of my favorite, and unfortunately cancelled, shows, Joss Whedon’s “Dollhouse.” It was kind of nice to see Dushku on television again, although the role didn’t really give her a whole lot to do.

The episode opens with the guys eating lunch in the university cafeteria. Which is how pretty much every episode of “The Big Bang Theory” opens if it doesn’t open with the gang all eating dinner at Leonard and Sheldon’s apartment. Leonard, who has lately become more desperate and obsessed about his track record with women, announces that he wants to be more confident with women. He demonstrates his newfound confidence on Raj, which, I have to admit, was pretty funny. Howard joins the group, interrupting Sheldon rattling off facts about capybaras (an animal I’ve loved since I was a kid, by the way). Howard has big news. He has been selected to work on a new Department of Defence project involving satellites. The only catch is that he needs security clearance. The thought of talking to any government official makes Raj very jumpy, even if it’s not ICE and Raj is legally in the country on an H1B visa. He goes on a rant about how he doesn’t want to go back to India, which I guess some people found a bit offensive. I found it kind of funny, because it’s Raj. Sheldon’s just fed up that he didn’t get to talk about capybaras, so he leaves the table in a huff.

It turns out that Raj didn’t use his best judgment in choosing his references for security clearance. Not that it would have done much good anyway, since my understanding is that investigators use your references to develop lists of other people to talk to. But anyway, we first start with Raj. He’s happily reading a book from the Twilight saga (New Moon, I think), when there’s a knock on the door of his apartment. It’s none other than Eliza Dushku as FBI Agent Page. Dushku’s performance is kind of robotic and not really funny. I’m also left wondering why the show’s world, which includes Summer Glau and Wil Wheaton as actors who are geek icons, doesn’t include Eliza Dushku as well. It seems to me that the reaction of all the guys should be “It’s Eliza Dushku!” Raj’s reaction is, as it always is with women, silence. He runs to his kitchen, takes a swig of rum, and quick grabs a rum cake and pretends to have been eating it (it covers up the smell of the rum). With a bit of alcohol in him, Raj can now talk to Agent Page. He starts out answering her questions about Howard just fine, but then he has another freak out about not wanting to go back to India.

Agent Page’s interview with Leonard is no better. Leonard opens the interview with an “X-files” reference, talking about how he thought the FBI would send Mulder, but he got Scully. Then he makes things even worse by starting to do his confident guy flirt on her. Agent Page is not amused. Sheldon, of the entire group, does the most damage to Howard with his interview. At first, he questions Agent Page’s true identity when she shows up at the apartment door. Then he complains about the FBI not doing anything with the evidence samples he sent to them years ago. When Agent Page asks if Howard is responsible, that’s when Sheldon goes on a full blown tirade. He shows Agent Page the Lord of the Rings Blu-ray set that Howard broke, and he goes off on a list of ways he feels Howard has wronged him. Unfortunately (for both Howard and Sheldon), Sheldon inadvertently throws the Mars Rover incident into his list. You know, that time when Howard inadvertently crashed the Mars rover while driving it around in an attempt to impress Stephanie.

Agent Page is all over that Mars Rover story, and not surprisingly, Howard doesn’t get his security clearance. When Howard gives them the news over lunch, Raj and Leonard both own up to the fact that they didn’t give good interviews. Sheldon, however, is unusually subdued. He continues to be subdued even when Leonard says that he thought if any of them would screw up the security clearance for Howard, it would be Sheldon. Sheldon surprisingly has feelings about the whole mess. He even has guilt-ridden dreams. Sheldon tries going to Agent Page’s office to recant his story, but she won’t let him. Then Sheldon tries reciting a poem he wrote about how great Howard is. Agent Page says the matter is closed. In his hysterics, Sheldon almost tells Agent Page about the incident where Leonard was about to give the formula for the new rocket fuel to Joyce Kim, but he manages to backpedal just as Agent Page is starting to look like she wants to start another investigation.

Rattled by the fact that he’s actually feeling guilty, Sheldon admits what he did to Howard and tries to apologize. Howard doesn’t accept the apology. Even more upset, Sheldon goes to see Penny, who happens to be working a bartending shift at the Cheesecake Factory. We haven’t seen Penny bartend in a while, but it’s a convenient way to hide Kaley Cuoco’s cast, and it adds some comedy, so I’m good with it. Sheldon thinks he wants a drink, and he chooses a cocktail from an app on his phone. Penny just pours him a shot, and as they talk, Sheldon keeps trying to drink it and always ends up spitting it out. It’s kind of both funny and gross. Sheldon says that Howard’s forgiveness is unwinnable, and I love that Penny namechecks the Kobyashi Maru here. She watched the Star Trek movies while the boys were up in the Arctic, after all. Sheldon takes inspiration from that and says he wants to reprogram Howard.

Sheldon shows up at lunch and briefly tries to use some behavioral programming on Howard, but it doesn’t work. Sheldon then brings out the big guns. He gives Howard a bag that contains a couch cushion. He’s giving up his beloved “spot” on the couch to Howard. Howard is touched by the gesture, especially after Sheldon explains how much his spot means to him, and he decides to forgive Sheldon. In the episode’s tag, however, we see that Sheldon’s generosity doesn’t last for long. He goes a whopping 94 seconds sitting elsewhere before demanding his spot back.

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