Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Big Bang Theory 4.11: "The Justice League Recombination"

“No. I know bullying. He left unswirlied and his ass crack was underpants-free.”

“The Justice League Recombination” was slightly better than “The Alien Parasite Hypothesis,” but I still don’t think I would count it among my favorite episodes of “The Big Bang Theory.” I did appreciate that the episode was trying to turn the typical bullying trope on its head by having our favorite nerds be the bullies, but it felt a bit forced to me. Zach is just so incredibly, obviously stupid in an uncomplex way that you kind of can’t fault the guys for ragging on him a little. I also didn’t quite get where some of Penny’s arc in this episode came from. Can I see her getting back together with Zach? Sure- Penny’s been known to make unwise romantic choices when she’s in a low place emotionally (doesn’t pretty much everyone?). What I didn’t get was her little freak out in the middle of the episode. We haven’t really seen Penny throw tantrums that often, and when she does, there’s usually a good reason.

One thing I did really like about this episode was the very beginning. The boys are playing “Mystic Warlords of Ka’a,” first introduced in “The Creepy Candy Coating Corollary.” I liked the continuity that they were playing a game we’ve seen them play before, and a game that’s original to the show at that. Penny stops by to drop off Leonard’s copy of “Science” magazine that somehow ended up in her mailbox, and Zach (the menu guy) enters the apartment behind her. Apparently they’re back together. Again. Zach’s happy to see the guys, because he wants to “talk science with the science dudes.” The guys spend the next few minutes insulting Zach’s intelligence, and eventually Zach gets the hint and leaves. Before leaving herself, Penny accuses the guys of being bullies, which is an especially serious accusation, because they were all bullied themselves when they were kids.

The boys have a brief discussion about how they don’t think what they were doing is bullying because Zach wasn’t physically harmed, but Leonard, being the doormat for Penny that he’s always been, wants to run across the hall and apologize immediately. The rest of the guys are not at all enthusiastic about that idea. Leonard even offers them free comic books and they still say no. They only agree to go along with them when Leonard reminds them that he might get punched by Zach. They don’t want to miss out on the violence, apparently. For all his insistence that an apology is necessary, Leonard’s attempt to apologize is pretty lame. He basically just says “you know we were just kidding around, right?” He doesn’t actually apologize. Which is kind of surprising, because Leonard is usually pretty sincere about that sort of thing. Surpringly, Sheldon is the one who actually smoothes over the situation. All it takes is offering Zach a Milk Dud, and all is forgiven. Zach even decides he wants to go with the guys to the comic book store, which doesn’t make Penny very happy for some reason. I guess she doesn’t like being reminded of what she had with Leonard.

At the comic book store, Stewart asks the guys if they’re going to be at the store New Year’s Eve party. The guys are planning to be there, and they’ll be costumed as the Justice League of America, as always. They’ve never won the costume contest with their Justice League costumes, but they want to change that this year. Leonard has always been Superman, and the rest of the group thinks that’s been their weakness. They think Zach should be Superman this year. With that change made, there’s some squabbling over how the rest of the costumes will be shuffled around. Raj has always been Green Lantern, but Leonard wants Green Lantern if he can’t be Superman. Poor Raj gets demoted to Aquaman. Not an avid comic book follower, I didn’t quite understand Raj’s complaints about how lame Aquaman is, but when I finally saw his costume (complete with sea horse for him to ride), I understood. The guys also want Penny to be Wonder Woman. They think that even just bringing a reasonably attractive woman to the party will win them the contest. Unfortunately (I hate negative geek stereotypes), they’re probably right. Penny’s not thrilled about the idea, but she agrees to go with it.

The gang all gathers in costume at Sheldon and Leonard’s apartment before heading over to the party. The guys all love Penny’s Wonder Woman costume, but Shedon starts perseverating on the fact that Penny isn’t wearing a dark wig to cover up her blond hair. Eventually, Penny just can’t take it anymore. She throws a bit of a tantrum, goes back to her apartment, and refuses to go to the party. This creates quite a dilemma for the remainder of the Justice League. Sheldon says that without Wonder Woman, they can no longer be the Justice League, and they’ll have to break out the Muppet Babies costumes instead. What I want to know is why Muppet Babies? The regular Muppets or Fraggles would be fun, and dare I say it, a bit hip. Not so much Muppet Babies, though. Thankfully, Leonard saves the group from that embarrassing fate by having a talk with Penny. She tells Leonard that she only got back together with Zach so she wouldn’t be alone on New Year’s Eve. And I kind of don’t blame her for that. More interestingly, Penny hints that it’s not the wig that is her problem with going to the comic book store on New Year’s Eve, it’s her unresolved feelings for Leonard.

The whole group does eventually make it to the party at the comic book shop, and of course they win the costume contest. There’s some funny business with Sheldon trying to give an acceptance speech (guess the writers forgot about his fear of speaking in front of crowds), but then there’s a ton of awkwardness when the clock strikes midnight. Penny messily kisses Zach, but she looks longingly at Leonard. On the way home, the group sees some thieves breaking into a car. They briefly ponder being real superheroes, but then they turn around and slowly walk away. Zach hesitates a little longer than the rest of the group, but he goes with the retreat.

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