Big Bang Theory – The Hesitation Ramification


by Kevin Rigdon (@pralix1138)

The new year gets off to a shaky start on the newest episode of The Big Bang Theory, “The Hesitation Ramification.” The show is back from holiday hiatus and, immediately out of the gate, Leonard manages to suck the life out of Penny in spectacular fashion. Penny has gotten a spot on NCIS, and the gang all gather together to watch it. When Penny realizes that her short scene with series star, Mark Harmon, gets cut, she goes into a desperate tailspin of self-doubt and despair. Leonard doesn’t so much bring her comfort as kick her in the emotional nether regions by telling her that he doesn’t really believe she can make it as an actress furthering her downward spiral.

In the Season 6 episode, “The Monster Isolation,” the gang went to watch Penny in A Streetcar Named Desire, and were all thoroughly impressed with her acting skills. All that seems forgotten now, by Leonard, at least, and so he is incapable of being supportive. Maybe he thinks he’s being “realistic” about Penny’s chances of ever actually making it. I, personally, think he’s unconsciously attempting to tear her down because he’s afraid that if she does become successful, then she will definitely leave him. Wouldn’t blame her if she did. To make matters worse, Penny gets drunk, as per usual, and, since she has nothing left to live for or lose, asks Leonard to marry her. He declines. Despite his butchery of a pep talk earlier, this is a good decision on his part. But now, he’ll have to deal with the consequences of that. Of course, if he’d been supportive in the first place, the drunken proposal would’ve never happened.

Lest this become a drama involving a failing actress and an emotionally damaged experimental physicist (and no, I’m not talking about Sheldon–he’s probably the most stable character in this cadre of sadness), the others step up to bring some funny. Sheldon attempts to construct the perfect joke based on scientific formulas, and he enlists Amy to help him; the guinea pig, as it were. It soon devolves from the sudden, surprising, pulling down of pants, to comparing and contrasting the inherent humour of all the words. Amy meets up with Howard and Bernadette to talk things over, and we get treated to a When Harry Met Sally homage featuring Bernadette faking a laugh to a Howard joke. Overall, although the homage was somewhat funny, it doesn’t fully relieve the heaviness of what’s going on with Leonard and Penny.

That brings us to Raj, and his bosom-possum-buddy, Stuart. So, even though Raj can now talk to women without being inebriated, he’s absolute crap at doing it. Stuart’s in the same boat. They formulate a plan to work up to talking to attractive women by heading to the mall and finding unattractive people to talk to first. Seems doomed to failure, but they’re desperate, so they give it a go. And, predictably, they spend all of their time trying to figure out who fits their criteria of unattractiveness so that they might strike up a conversation. The old lady with the walker doesn’t work, the speed walker passes by, the mannequins in the department store are probably too stuck up. So, predictably, they talk to no one until they get warned by a mall security guard that the mall is closing. Raj goes for it. He asks how the guy likes being a mall security guard. The guy responds. Conversation ended. It’s short, creepy, a little sad, and it’s over. But it’s a start.

In some ways, that sad, short, conversation, is illustrative of the whole episode. It was a bit off for my taste. I get that attempting to make it in Hollywood is damn near impossible, but good grief. Throw Penny a bone. Put her in another play or something. Let that character have some success to put her on equal footing with the others. Regardless, it should be somewhat interesting to see how that whole marriage thing plays out. Of course, she has said no to Leonard on multiple occasions, so hopefully she’ll remember those, and not be too upset with Leonard. His lack of support and faith in her is far more infuriating any way.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5 Stars

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