S4E19: The Big Bang Theory's strongest suit is its ensemble. Why? Well, without getting too complicated, the cast has great chemistry. When the guys come together with one goal in focus, like getting Sheldon's imaginary World of Warcraft stuff back, it creates a bubbling energy. They direct their focus at one end point, and as they all try to reach that, their characters play and bounce off one another in a really fun, genuine way. Sure, the plots and twists of Big Bang aren't groundbreaking like, say, Community, but I don't think that's Big Bang's goal. It just simply wants to do what it does, do it well, and be done with it. And, despite a few faults here and there, last night's "The Zarnecki Equation" did just that -- it entertained.
"I'm sorry for your loss, but the Pasadena Police Department doesn't have jurisdiction in Pandora." -Officer
Sheldon is robbed -- ah! But, don't get too concerned because it's actually nothing that serious. Turns out, it's just the dude's World of Warcraft account. (Although, I shouldn't discredit it that much because it took him "three thousand hours clicking on that mouse, collecting weapons and gold.") Regardless if we think it's a big deal or not, Sheldon's panicking and he wants to get his "invisible stuff" back.
If there's one major gripe I have with this episode is that it, once again, relies pretty heavily on what everyone who isn't a nerd perceives to be a nerd. World of Warcraft! Star Wars! Star Trek! As a bit of a nerd myself, it's not that I don't enjoy these things, it's just that they really aren't that nerdy. Plus, how many effing times can somebody make a joke about a nerd and Star Trek? Big Bang used to make much more of an effort with its nerd jokes. Also, I'm pretty sure that WoW accounts get hacked all the time and there's a specific procedure for getting your stuff back. But, whatever. These are small gripes and Big Bang is just about being entertained, like I said, right?
"Aw, c'mon man. Bros before… my sister." -Raj
So after unsuccessfully looking for the dude who stole Sheldon's stuff online, Howard hacks his computer and finds out his name is Todd Zarneki and he lives only a few hours away in Carlsbad. So, of course, the gang thinks they need to go take care of this problem in real life. Except there's one problem: Priya. Leonard blew her off on the first night to help Sheldon -- which she wasn't too happy about -- and she spent the evening chatting with her old boyfriend. Obviously Leonard doesn't want to blow her off again. He makes up an excuse that he's "working late" so he can head out with the group to Carlsbad. So they go. And unfortunately, even though their quest is full of epic classical music and 71 mph driving, the result isn't quite as fulfilling. Because, well, Todd Zarnecki is a very large man and a very large dickhead.
"Todd Zarnecki was mean." -Sheldon
The guys shamefully begin their trek back to Pasadena but on the drive, the car breaks down. Even though each one of them could explain, in detail, how the engine scientifically works, none of them have any idea how to fix it so they're forced to call somebody: Penny. She picks them up and on the drive back finds out that they hadn't got Sheldon's stuff back. And, well, Penny being Penny decides that they need to get his stuff back -- Nebraska style. They show up on Zarnecki's doorstep and Penny does the womanly thing and kicks him square in the balls.
This whole scene was really fun, and I really enjoy moments where Penny gets to show off how strong of a character she is. Despite what Sheldon says, she isn't just a dumb, dimwitted fool. She's actually a strong, caring, young woman who genuinely wants the best for her friends. Plus, the Sheldon-Penny relationship is always one that's fun for the show to focus on because, well, Penny has developed into a motherly role for Sheldon. She's always there to pull him out of jams, despite Sheldon always spitting on her. It's an interesting dynamic, and personally, I'd like to see Big Bang push in this direction a little bit more.
"Amy's right. I do want fling my poop at her." -Penny
The guys return (successfully, with Penny's help) and that pretty much wrapped up the episode, but not before we got to see just how much Penny and Priya dislike one another. The tag featured the two awkwardly walking up the stairs together, not saying a word, and ending with a terribly forced, "Nice to see you." It was a nice moment, because typically Big Bang doesn't handle subtly too well. If they're trying to push some type of romantic storyline, the writers aren't afraid to beat you over the head with it, so much so that sometimes you can hear Chuck Lorre screaming, "HEY GUYS, PENNY IS JEALOUS OF LEONARD AND PRIYA." But, this wasn't that type of scene. Instead, it was just an extremely uneasy and awkward moment between the two main women in Leonard's life. And you know what? After struggling for so long with the Penny-Leonard plot, it seems as if the writers finally kind of halfway almost maybe know what they want to do and how they are going to finally kind of halfway almost maybe do it. But most importantly, they have found how to make it interesting.