Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Big Bang Theory 4.19: "The Zarnecki Incursion"

“What kind of world do we live in where a man would take another man’s battle ostrich?”

“The Zarnecki Incursion” was amusing in a mostly non-offensive way. I laughed a few times, and I thought that once again, Kaley Cuoco stole the show. Her demonstration of how people complete a quest in Nebraska was definitely amusing. I liked that the central plot in this episode was geek culture-driven, but in a way that actually creates stakes, not just opportunities to laugh at the poor, pathetic nerds. Watching the guys come together to figure out who hacked Sheldon’s World of Warcraft account was fun. Yes, online gaming can take time, and losing the results of all that effort, even if it is only pixels, can sting. And I think it was played more in that direction as opposed to “aren’t these guys so pathetic for caring so much about virtual possessions.” I think this episode also succeeded in the most part because it mostly focused on the original characters. Bernadette and Amy did make brief appearances, but they were pretty peripheral, and once again only there to bring out Penny’s feelings for Leonard.

The episode opens with Leonard bringing take-out home for dinner (I still want to know how a bunch of post-docs and a waitress can afford yummy looking take out for every dinner), and from out in the hallway, he can hear Sheldon is upset. There’s a police officer in the apartment talking to Sheldon, and Leonard immediately thinks someone has burglarized the apartment again. It turns out that what happened was that someone hacked Sheldon’s World of Warcraft account and stole all the items he had purchased over the years. The police officer isn’t taking Sheldon seriously, and probably thinks he’s a little crazy, and he hightails it out of the apartment as soon as he realizes Leonard can effectively manage Sheldon’s particular brand of crazy. Leonard has his work cut out for him convincing Sheldon that this is not something the Pasadena Police Department can help him with.

The boys decide to look into the theft on their own, each of them hunched over their laptops working their World of Warcraft contacts. Penny stops by after work to drop off a conciliatory cheesecake for Sheldon (who isn’t especially appreciative, naturally) and runs into Priya on her way out. She quickly explains that she was there to deliver something to Sheldon and rushes over to her own apartment. Later, Penny complains to Bernadette and Amy that she turned Leonard into quality boyfriend material, but now she has to tip toe around thanks to Priya. She thinks Priya should be more grateful. The girls are going out for drinks, and when Priya leaves Leonard and Sheldon’s apartment, annoyed because Leonard is playing games instead of paying attention to her, she runs into them. Penny gamely invites Priya to drinks, too, but Priya declines. And that’s the last we see of Bernadette and Amy in this episode.

The next day, during lunch at the university, Raj mentions that Priya is so unhappy that she was Skyping with her ex-boyfriend Sanjay. Howard arrives in the cafeteria and interrupts this conversation because he has discovered the name and address of the person who hacked Sheldon’s World of Warcraft account. His name is Todd Zarnecki, and he lives in California. Since he’s within driving distance, Sheldon wants to organize a big quest to force Todd to give him his virtual items back. The rest of the guys aren’t very enthusiastic about the idea, but Sheldon gives a big speech about how this could be their revenge for being bullied all their lives. This gets a still unenthusiastic agreement from the other guys. Raj says he’ll go on the quest after his hip hop aerobics class. Howards says he’s in as long as it’s after watching Wheel of Fortune with his mom. Leonard is hesitant because he’s supposed to hang out with Priya, and she’s already upset about him spending so much time with his friends, but eventually he agrees, too.

We next see all the guys at Howard’s house watching Wheel of Fortune. To keep with the gag that we never actually see Howard’s mother, she’s upstairs, and Howard yells puzzles up to her. She has an uncanny ability to solve them with minimal clues. As funny as that was (the first few times, at least), I’m still not a fan of Howard’s mother. The yelling gag got old a while ago. Anyway, while the guys are watching Wheel of Fortune, Priya calls Leonard. Leonard knows Priya won’t be happy if she finds out he’s hanging out with the guys, so he tells her he’s at work. As soon as Leonard hangs up, Raj’s phone rings. It’s Priya again, calling to verify if Leonard is at work, and Raj sort of covers for him. Clearly this relationship isn’t going to last much longer. Leonard is going to start to chafe under what Priya wants him to be sooner rather than later, I think.

After Wheel of Fortune, the guys hop in Leonard’s car and begin their “quest” to Todd Zarnecki’s house. Raj puts on some “questing music,” which was hilarious. It reminded me of Barney’s “Get Psyched” mix in the season 1 episode of HIMYM “The Limo.” The CD says it’s a Beyoncé dance mix, but it’s actually classical music. The gang arrives at Todd Zarnecki’s house, and they gather on the doorstep, ready to have a confrontation and get Sheldon’s items back. Sheldon himself was armed with a Klingon bat’leth, which was quite amusing. Todd Zarnecki is pretty much an ass. He refuses to return any of Sheldon’s items, and to add insult to injury, he takes Sheldon’s bat’leth. Apparently it has value as a collectable. On the way home, Leonard’s car breaks down. He can’t call Priya, because that would mean admitting that he was out with the guys instead of at work, so Penny ends up picking them up, making sure to mention how it’s odd that Priya isn’t the one picking them up. When she finds out they didn’t succeed in their quest, she offers to go back to Todd Zarnecki’s and show the guys how people finish a quest in Nebraska. And then she kicks Todd Zarnecki in the nuts. Which was pretty awesome.

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