overnights

The Big Bang Theory Recap: Not Even @Neilhimself

The Big Bang Theory

The Comet Polarization
Season 11 Episode 21
Editor’s Rating *****

The Big Bang Theory

The Comet Polarization
Season 11 Episode 21
Editor’s Rating *****

If Neil Gaiman walks into a comic-book store, but its geeky clientele doesn’t recognize him, was he ever really there?

The legendary writer indeed stopped by, according to his own tweet, which turns Stuart’s struggling comic-book store into Pasadena’s instant must-shop destination. But Sheldon and the rest of his crew — including Stuart — are too busy arguing about which metal is the most powerful metal in comics to notice the author is in their midst.

Even when Gaiman tries to insert himself into the debate. (For the record: Thor’s hammer is made of Uru, he argues, so it’s pretty powerful.)

The takeaway? Sheldon isn’t the only member of his group too self-involved to notice the presence of a personal hero. Or, to put a more charitable spin on it: Sheldon, Howard, Leonard, Raj, and Stuart are just so passionate about their comic-book affections that even the presence of one of their personal heroes doesn’t shatter their confidence in their long-held fan theories.

Either way, Gaiman’s charming cameo is far and away the highlight of this installment, which serves as a solid bit of evidence for another fan theory: Any network comedy could be improved by cutting its season episode tally in half.

This 24-episode season continues to mostly limp along to its conclusion, with the much-awaited Sheldon and Amy wedding as the hopeful payoff. In the meantime, we’re getting clichéd stories like parents-of-infants Howard and Bernadette trying and failing to have a date night. Oh, but it does provide the opportunity for Howard to comment on Bernie’s sweatpants outfit, a jab that a man with that many Dickies and themed belt buckles has no fashion right to make.

Elsewhere, Penny and Raj argue about which of them can claim the discovery of a comet when Penny looks through Raj’s telescope, sees “something fuzzy,” and snaps a photo with Raj’s telescope when he tells her to. She spotted it, she says. But it’s his telescope, he counters, and he told her when to take the pic. Plus, the discovery could help advance his career, while Penny is mostly angry that she is once again being denied credit for something — just like when her co-workers ignored her lunch suggestion, but practically carried her colleague around the room when he also proposed eating at California Pizza Kitchen.

Raj and Penny fight, Leonard tries to convince Raj to share the credit with Penny, and eventually, an angry Penny stomps into Raj’s apartment and demands that he officially acknowledge her contribution. He agrees, but only after a weak attempt at using reverse psychology totally fizzles.

Yeah, the fellas are being all kinds of gentlemanly in this one.

Sheldon, too. He’s throwing a hissy fit because the sudden popularity of Stuart’s store means crowds now take up space where he once roamed unfettered. The comic book story was like “a funeral home that sells Pokémon cards,” he says. Never mind that it means Stuart may actually be able to stay in business now — for the first time ever, his cash register actually ran out of receipt tape.

Sheldon calms down when the store’s brisk sales mean Stuart has to hire an employee to help him out. At first, it’s a change that makes him uncomfortable. But when Denise, the new clerk, displays a well of comic-book knowledge so deep that she can suggest a new series she thinks Sheldon will love — Kurt Busiek’s Arrowsmith — he’s so taken with her that he annoys Amy with dinner conversation about how cool Denise is.

Amy, who admitted to Sheldon earlier that she doesn’t pay as much attention to what he’s saying as she used to, sees Denise as a threat. And so, she stops by the Comic Center and demands that Denise give her a crash course in all things comics.

She’s reading the DC Universe Rebirth Omnibus when Sheldon gets home, and she’s eager to discuss it with him.

He tells her he’s been talking about comic books a lot lately, however, and would really like to talk about something else.

The real takeaway? All too frequently, Sheldon is still a selfish jerk who doesn’t even consider Amy made a big effort to learn about something he loves — even if it’s an effort mostly motivated by jealousy — because she loves him.

Or, to put a more charitable spin on it: Nah. Still a selfish jerk.

THEOR-EMS

• Except here, when Sheldon thanks Amy for a bit of advice she gives him: “You’re wise and you smell like books. You really are the whole package.”

• In case you’re wondering, Gaiman appears in two scenes. Not only does the group miss him while they’re debating the strength of fake metals, but Sheldon later talks directly to him at the comic-book shop and doesn’t recognize him. Maybe that’s supposed to be the joke, that Neil Gaiman came into the store and no one recognized him? But it feels like a cheat, because these characters have earned the opportunity to geek out over Neil Gaiman if he walked into their comic-book hang.

• Gaiman’s tweet about the Comic Center allows Stuart to step up his Twitter game. He’s very excited that he gets retweeted by Patton Oswalt … ’s brother.

The Big Bang Theory Recap: Not Even @Neilhimself