The Big Bang Theory: The 21-Second Excitation/The Boyfriend Complexity

Leonard sort of gets his wish on The Big Bang Theory with the arrival of Penny’s dad in “The Boyfriend Complexity.” To recap: in last week’s episode, “The 21-Second Excitation”, he was still pining, and Penny, upon being roped into a slumber party with Amy and Bernadette, stopped cold in truth or dare when she had to articulate why she still spends so much time around him. So we’re getting warmer. The other plot point last week had the boys hijacking a print of Raiders of the Lost Ark (with 21 additional seconds, hence the title) from a midnight screening when Wil Wheaton got their seats in the theater.

This week begins as Sheldon berates a delivery boy who’s complaining about the stairs while Leonard goes to fetch Penny for dinner and runs into her dad (Keith Carradine, having way too much fun) at her door. While he’s still saying hello, she appears and plants a smooch on him and tells him she’s having dinner with her dad. Dumbfounded, Leonard goes back to his the apartment wondering, “What the hell?” Raj and Howard presume maybe she’s being held hostage and it was a cry for help, and then Penny comes to the door to explain that she told her dad they reconciled. He stifles a “Bwahaha, what, now?” and asks how that happened since she was in the wrong about the break up. She says she told her dad he came running back to her.

They continue the ruse for most of the episode, with Leonard smooching Penny whenever possible, until she finally caves and tells her dad the truth. Dad reads her the riot act and tells Leonard to hold tight for his turn, but after he sends Penny out of the room, he pleads with Leonard not to give up on her, because he’s the only genuinely good guy she’s ever dated. He then pretend-yells while Leonard scoots out the door and promises to friend him on Facebook. In the midst of all this, Sheldon, who only has partial information about the scenario (because he can’t successfully lie), stays up all night redrafting the roommate agreement as it relates to Penny and then has a meltdown when Leonard says there’s no need.

While all this is going on, Raj and Howard, along with Bernadette, are draining a couple of bottles of wine at the university while Raj gets his telescope privileges. The booze comes into play because Raj would otherwise be mute with Bernadette there. Instead, he gets all flirty and they take turns mocking Mrs. Wolowitz, and when Raj moves in to kiss her, Howard jumps in the way and ends up getting the liplock. So that happened. The next morning in the cafeteria, they’re both twitchy, and Leonard and Sheldon just assume they found alien life or some such, and Raj snits out that he can’t believe Howard didn’t call him. Hee.

So, I’m not terribly sure what we’re setting up here but it seems to be step toward reconciling Penny and Leonard for real. I liked them as a couple, and never felt like they overshadowed the show. Similar to the way the Barney/Robin relationship was clicking along on HIMYM, but the show bible had other plans, I think TBBT torpedoed Penny and Leonard before it was necessary. I’d be fine if they’ve realized that and are trying to undo that now.

Photo Courtesy of Sonja Flemming/CBS

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