S4E20: There’s one major thing that The Big Bang Theory has struggled with during its (almost) four season run: mini overarching story lines. Sure, the characters have challenged one another and their relationships developed and changed over long periods of times (think Penny-Leonard’s onand off love mess or Amy and Sheldon’s growth), but very rarely does the show continue a story arc from a previous episode. I won’t go as far to say that it’s like Seinfeld and nearly every episode is a bottle because, like I wrote, there are slow developments over time; that said though, there’s not much to our characters’ lives other than what’s happening right now.
But in the past couple of episodes, Big Bang has changed that. As we now head into the final part of the season there are developing conflicts between all of the characters (granted, some more interesting than others): Leonard-Priya-Penny, Howard-Bernadette-Raj, and Sheldon-Amy. And you know what? It’s working. “The Herb Garden Germination” was one of Big Bang’s strongest episodes yet this season.
“Bernadette is thinking of breaking up with Howard.” -Amy
As they say, the “cat’s outta the bag” regarding Bernadette and Howard. According to Amy (who heard it from Penny), Bernadette wants to break things off with Howard, which she shares with Sheldon as they’re out enjoying a relaxing evening (and for Sheldon, a relaxing evening consists of harassing authors who dumb down science in their books for the general public). Anyway, once Sheldon hears the gossip he shares it with Leonard who then shares it with Priya who then shares it with Raj. This whole little gossip bit took a little while to get rolling, but once it did, it was fun to see the cast continue to pass on details of each others’ personal lives. I also found it interesting because typically we see the ensemble as just that: an ensemble. They don’t spend a lot of time grouped off in pairs; and even if they are, it’s usually done to advance the plot physically (like Sheldon and Leonard driving to work together), not just to give them some time to talk about the other characters who aren’t with them.
“I’m going to ask her to marry me.” -Howard
So all of these rumors of Bernadette wanting to break up with Howard are swirling (but never are confirmed by Bernadette, by the way), but Howard has no idea. In fact, he’s completely in the opposite direction. He’s going to ask Bernadette to marry him (and even has his cousin looking for a ring and all of that, which by the way seems weird but it’s Howard so whatever) and when he tells the guys, surprisingly, nobody stops or tells him about the rumors regarding Bernadette. At this moment, I was actually pretty happy that Big Bang went against the sitcom trope of having the guys tell Howard about the Bernadette rumors, followed by Howard confronting her, only to find out that they were just that: rumors. Instead, the gang did the smart thing and kept their mouths shut and let whatever was going to happen happen.
“If you don’t mind, I’d like to stop listening to you and start talking.” -Sheldon
Sheldon and Amy talk again and, because they’re both scientists, they are extremely interested in this whole “gossip” development. So interested that they decide to make an experiment out of it. They decide to create another lie and tell their friends that they had sex just to see how fast the gossip spread. So, well, they do that. And whaddaya know? It works. The chemistry between Amy and Sheldon in this moment was at the best it’s ever been. Quite honestly, as much as I’ve wanted to love Amy, I haven’t been too crazy about her involvement in the series so far. Not because I don’t think Mayim Bialik is doing a good job as the character, but mainly because the writers couldn’t figure out how she fit into the Big Bang world. Was she just another Sheldon, but female? That seems to be how she started (and that wasn’t good by the way — not only was it strange to have two of the exact same characters, but it also took away from the ensemble’s chemistry), but it doesn’t seem to be where the writers have her now. She’s like Sheldon, yes, but she seems a little less hard-headed and much more interested in learning how the rest of her friends work and think. So now, since the writers finally have figured her out a little bit, she’s able to influence Sheldon in ways that other characters might not — and watching that has been really, really fun.
“Perhaps your talk of my sexual prowess renewed her faith in love.” -Sheldon
So since the gang lets Howard go through with the proposal, he does. And Bernadette says “yes!” Apparently, all the rumors that she wanted to break up with Howard were just rumors. Or maybe she was actually considering breaking up with Howard because he wasn’t committing to her, and the marriage proposal changed that. Or, maybe it was what Sheldon said. Regardless, they’re all happy and it’s a nice moment for the cast (well, aside from Raj, but I don’t think that his little crush on Bernadette will develop into anything more than just a plot device). And, hey, the group’s happiness rounded out “The Herb Garden Germination” in a very pleasant way, turning it into a nice little episode for the series and that is everything Big Bang ever needs to be: fun, enjoyable, and entertaining.