Sheldon, Sheldon, Sheldon. Oh, Sheldon. You wonderful, arrogant, narcissistic jackass. You cannot boil people and relationships down to algorithms. No matter how hard you try. You may be a genius, but you forget- with imperfect creatures like humans, there are simply too many variables.
Last week’s episode was a bit of a let down, but this week, with Jim Parson’s socially clueless Sheldon centre stage, the show hit a good one for the most part. We start with one of the greatest cold opens ever. Sheldon and Raj are debating the best kind of pudding- Raj is in favor of Tapioca, Sheldon is 100% correct in say chocolate ( chocolate fudge pudding, to be precise). Sheldon then attempts to regale his table with a fact about the plant tapioca comes from, but Leonard, Raj , and Howard refuse to allow him to finish his thought, allowing Jim Parson’s physical comedic gifts shine through as Sheldon desperately tries to interject his arcane knowledge and gets shot down. He spasms, contorts, and as desperation sets in, literally looks as though he’s about to fall apart, until Leonard deems it cruel to continue. Sheldon explodes, then drinks water in the most ridiculously desperate way imaginable. ” You promised you’d stop doing that,” he tells Leonard bitterly afterwards.
Sheldon has a bit of a conundrum. See, he needs a certain lab at the university. This lab is apparently under the control of one Barry Kripke ( see last weeks episode- the dude with the speech impediment that only Raj mentioned. Leonard informs our beloved egomaniac that Kripke only allows his friends to use the equipment Sheldon needs, which causes Sheldon to decide to-*GASP*- make Kripke his new friend. Of course, he does this in the most Sheldon way imaginable. He creates a questionnaire ( which seems to resemble an S.A.T. judging from everyones reaction to it). When that proves to be enormously frustrating for him ( he’s upset his friends don’t take the questionnaire seriously, although to their credit, they answered it), he takes to the next logical step- the children’s book section of the local bookstore, which leads to Sheldon meeting a little girl and unaware of social niceties, he comes off as looking beyond creepy. Leonard pulls him away before the inevitable happens.
Reading Stu the Cockatoo Is New At the Zooallows Sheldon to create a greaseboard with the title algorithm on it. He calls Kripke and follows it till he reaches a loop. Howard remedies this by giving him an escape, which cause Sheldon to remark, ” I’m surprised you saw that.” Howard remarks on how he finds it amazing Sheldon has any friends at all.
Sheldon’s out was to go indoor rock climbing with Kripke. This ends rather amusingly with Sheldon, who’s fear of heights is ” non-existent” but his fear of falling very real, passing out about halfway. I was actually shocked Sheldon even attempted it, as Sheldon is not known for taking any risks at all. But he manages to get Kripke to come over for food ( leading to him deciding that Penny’s name is not hot enough and renaming her. Howard’s little aside about not looking so bad considering actually end up making the last episode now funnier, which is a major comedic achievement). The rest of the gang, not pleased with this new friendship with someone who essentially amounts to a geek who bullies than simply because he’s only a tad less geeky than they are,are then infomed that Sheldon can only afford in his life four friends. Leonard is safe as he is the roomate, Penny because of the fact that she adds something different, and Howard- well, I’m not even sure why, other than Sheldon was miffed Raj answered the lycine question wrong on the questionnaire, so Raj was eliminated from Sheldon’s friend list. But when Sheldon tries to get Kripke to allow him access to the equipment he needs, Kripke informs him that there is a schedule he has no control over. Sheldon, non plussed about the futility of his efforts, simply decides Kripke is now out and gives Raj the dumplings.
Strong work from Jim Parsons throughout the series means that Sheldon episodes are more likely as the series continues. That’s an issue with breakout characters on sitcoms, particularly ones as well played as Sheldon. But everyone had a few jabs and one liners, and Leonard finally got a chance to tell Penny how he and Sheldon became friends ( basically, he was allowed to be Sheldon’s roommate as long he didn’t whistle). But it was truly a Sheldon moment, and it shined. I laughed, I laughed, I laughed some more. And thank God for quick closers, as we see the guys staring up at a passed out Sheldon, dangling from a harness as he again failed to make it up the rock climbing wall. It was less than ninety seconds. Brilliant.