Is that line an accurate definition of comedy? That is the question that Sheldon attempts to get to the bottom of this week in an episode that also brought us one of the most tragic moments we’ve ever seen our group have to experience.
Let’s quickly get the Raj and Stuart C-plot out of the way. It was superfluous and silly. The only reason I can think of to include it were the not so subtle hints that these two will eventually end up together. Bernadette: “Or, just keep dating the possum.” Raj: “Oooh, Mark Harmon. He’s a dreamboat.” If this is where we are headed, let’s just get there.
The B-plot, on the other hand, was comedy gold. Comedy is not something that can be boiled down to a scientific explanation, or one simple answer. This concept both puzzles and fascinates Sheldon who decides that he will be able to create the ultimate joke that will make anyone laugh at any time. While I am not sure that a joke that begins with a sandwich (promiscuous or otherwise), a rabbi, and yo mama will be all that hilarious, watching Sheldon come up with it certainly was.
The comedic highlight, however, was the When Harry Met Sally homage. Bernadette laughing at Howard’s joke until she wasn’t was brilliantly done. That, my friends, is comedy.
Meanwhile, Penny finally lands an acting job, a bit part on NCIS. The fact that she wants to be an actress has been rather ignored lately, so this was a nice return to why she is in LA in the first place and not at home in Nebraska. Unfortunately, her small, three-line part is cut and she quickly spirals down into self-pity.
The tragedy of this episode is Leonard. Trying to walk the line between supporting the woman he loves and being honest with her, he manages to upset her even more. What Leonard fails to understand is that nothing he says or does is going to make Penny feel better. All he can do is be there.
Just as he reaches that understanding, we get the moment many of us have been waiting for. Long ago, Leonard told Penny that she would have to propose to him. She does, but she does it when she is drunk and sad and leaves Leonard and us with the horrible knowledge that she is doing it because, right now, being with him is better than nothing.
Leonard, who wants nothing more than to marry this woman, understands this and hesitates. Penny retreats to her apartment presumably to sob and pass out, leaving Leonard up in the middle of the night wondering what the hell just happened.
Then the scene happens that inspired me to write this review. For six and a half years, we have watched Sheldon fail miserably when it comes to being compassionate and understanding. But, this time he nails it; arguably, when Leonard needs him the most. Sheldon is gentle, calm, and, most importantly, listens to what Leonard is saying. The best part, however, is the kick me sign. At first glance, it appears to be old Sheldon doing something inappropriate. It’s not. What it does is show that Sheldon believed that humor would be the saving grace in this situation. I love his lie as he realizes that he is wrong and rips the sign away. What a wonderful way to tie together the two main plots of this episode.
Sheldon asks the question that we are all wondering. Where does our number one couple go from here? Penny will wake up in the morning hungover and either deeply embarrassed by what has happened or unaware of what has happened. Leonard, on the other hand, now has to come to terms with the fact that part of him hesitated to say yes. Fantastic set-up for the second half of this season.