Ask and ye shall receive. Last week's poor showing for Raj — which extended a run of lackluster story lines, if any at all, for Mr. Koothrappali — had this TBBT viewer begging the writers to give the character something fun to do. This week, it happened. And before you go pointing out that this episode was already in the can before that request was made, and that the Big Bang Theory writers don't give a single, solitary F … you know … what I think about their Rajesh Koothrappali character development, yeah, I am aware. Gimme this one in the win column, okay? It's episode 20 of season nine. We're all just trying to make it to summer vacation at this point.
As I was saying, Raj gets a story! He's spending a lot of time with Bernadette, and he's become quite the active participant in helping her manage her pregnancy. He buys a heartbeat monitor so she and Howard — actually, so he and Bernadette — can listen to Baby Wolowitz's little ticker. He helps Bernie with grocery shopping after taking her to her doctor appointment. He even shows up at the Wolowitz homestead with a teddy bear that looks to be at least eight feet tall.
Jealous and creeped out, Howard throws a big bucket of ice water on Raj's enthusiasm for Bernie's pregnancy — sending Bernie a list of the best lactation specialists in Los Angeles and offering to discuss with her which one she should choose definitely did not make things less creepy. Raj's bumbling exit as he tries to maintain his dignity while maneuvering himself and his giant bear out of the house is both sad and a nicely performed bit of physical comedy by Kunal Nayyar.
In the end, Bernadette is sobbing upon Raj's departure, and since she can't distinguish between the cause being pregnancy hormones or sadness, Howard brings him back. It continues to be weird when Raj joins the couple in listening to the baby's heartbeat, but only because he asks if he can be the one to squirt the ultrasound jelly on her belly.
What this all says to me is that the other wish I have for Raj — that the writers finally pair him up with a girlfriend who would potentially make a great Mrs. Raj (i.e., not Emily) — should happen soon. Raj is a character who deserves more than third-wheel status.
Meanwhile, the rest of the gang decides to go on a trip to a cabin in the woods after Sheldon becomes fascinated with the idea of experiencing nature. He thinks he is legitimately experiencing it — via Oculus Rift and a pine-scented air freshener in his apartment — and when Penny mentions that one of her clients has offered up her cabin at Big Bear, Amy talks Sheldon into joining Penny and Leonard for a weekend away.
Let us count the ways that Sheldon can object to such a vacay: ticks (which provides Amy with a chance to check his body for the little creatures upon their arrival at the cabin), snakes, mosquitoes, bees, bears, possums, poison oak, and, oddly, "teenagers with guitars."
At the cabin, a downpour prevents the foursome from going on a hike. They're stuck inside, but the Jenga and Scrabble games on hand are missing too many parts to make them useful. (Unless "you want to build an unimpressive structure with the word schnerp next to it," Sheldon says.)
Penny suggests a little DIY fun, suggesting the couples play Never Have I Ever. It gets off to a good start … once they get past the realization that Penny is going to have to put some real thought into coming up with something she hasn't done. Leonard comes up with "Never have I ever been arrested," and Sheldon has to take a drink. He was once arrested, he explains, after he jaywalked to get away from an aggressive Girl Scout during cookie-selling season.
Digest the visual of that gag for a moment — it's pretty good, right? — but it turns out the actual jaywalking wasn't what got Sheldon arrested. He witnessed a cop witnessing him jaywalk, and when that cop didn't give him a ticket, Sheldon insulted him for not performing his job correctly. That's what got him arrested. "And how," he adds.
The game takes a turn for the serious after Leonard makes Penny drink by saying, "Never have I ever used Sheldon's toothbrush to clean the sink." Penny retaliates with, "Never have I ever come up with a nickname for my own genitals" … and then Leonard drinks.
Amy saucily says, "Never have I ever completely rocked my girlfriend's world in bed," forcing Sheldon to drink (and, probably fruitlessly, trying to nudge him into another go before her next birthday). Sheldon, not quite understanding the game — or maybe understanding it better than anyone else — then says, "Never have I ever kept a secret bank account because I think my wife can't handle money." Yep, that one is aimed at ol' Leonard, and when Penny gets upset about it, he tells her he's only keeping the account because she has massive credit-card debt.
Sheldon thinks this aftermath has made him the winner of the game. So again: Maybe he doesn't totally get the game, or maybe he totally does.
- The nickname Leonard gave his junk? Alvin and the Chipmunks. It's okay to cringe; it'd be weirder if you didn't.
- Sheldon to Leonard, who startles him while he's playing with the Oculus Rift: "I was enjoying some virtual reality until you ruined it with your actual face."
- Raj, to Bernie, when she insists that she should carry her groceries into the house: "The only thing you carry is our hope for a better tomorrow."
- Sheldon says he's only lived off the grid once: when his phone battery died and he had to wait for his iPad to start.
- While Penny and Leonard have a private talk about the secret bank account, Sheldon and Amy continue trying to come up with "never have I evers" that will force the other to drink. Sheldon finally wins when he says, "Never have I ever pushed all the buttons in an elevator," and Amy takes a drink. "We all have a past," she says.
- Penny reveals to Leonard she also has a secret: She hates her job because it forces her to flirt with doctors to make sales. She's going to stick with it, though, because she really does have a ton of credit-card debt. It's the grown-up thing to do, she says. The fact that Leonard wants Penny to keep working at a job that she hates — a job that makes her feel like she has to flirt with people to earn a paycheck — might be a sign that their relationship isn't healthy. Just a guess.
- Leonard, after his tiff with Penny: "You know, never have I ever made love in the forest while it was raining." Penny's response: "Well, guess I gotta drink."
- There are just four episodes left in season nine, with the season finale set to air on May 12. Any predictions for the final four? Will there be any other major Shamy milestones?