Johnny Galecki as Leonard, Simon Helberg as Howard, Jim Parsons as Sheldon, Kunal Nayyar as Raj.
Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS
That old idea about having a baby to save a marriage? There’s plenty of evidence to suggest it just doesn’t work. This week’s episode of The Big Bang Theory proves a pregnancy won’t save a sitcom episode, either.
The big news, as has been heavily forecasted all season: Bernadette and Howard are going to be parents. Howard doesn’t know yet — that’ll be the centerpiece of next week’s episode. And it seems unromantic to let the audience know before the future father himself, especially since this is the Valentine’s Day episode.
Instead, Howard and Bernadette spent most of the evening nursing a rabbit they found flopping around in their new hot tub. They assume he’s a rat at first, and upon discovery of his bunny-ness, they wrap him up in a towel and give him a Valentine’s Day–appropriate name: Valentino. It’s a classic rabbit moniker, as Howard says, “Peter Rabbit, Roger Rabbit … Valentino Wolowitz Rabbit.”
VWR quickly takes a bite out of his cuteness, though, by taking an actual bite out of Howard’s finger. When Howard’s hypochondria kicks in, he worries he might have rabies, but the only way to find out if Valentino is infected involves cutting his head off. Even Howard can’t resist what’s left of the bunny’s cuteness, so he decides to head off to the emergency room to have his finger examined. And that’s when Bernadette shares her life-changing announcement with … Valentino. “We’ll find another time to tell him I’m pregnant,” she whispers.
The Wolowitz Valentine’s Day celebration isn’t the only one Cupid strikes out on, either. Penny and Leonard have dinner reservations at a swanky eatery, but arrive to learn it’ll take more than an hour to get a table. (Seinfeld reference coming: As Jerry told the rental-car reservationist in “The Alternate Side,” it’s not about taking the reservation; the important part is holding the reservation.)
Leonard’s effort to slip the host a $20 bill fails miserably, and Penny’s attempt to flirt her way to a quicker table is an even bigger mistake. The 21-year-old host rejects her bid and makes her think she’s too old to gain favors with her looks. She grabs Leonard and hustles off for a drive-thru meal instead. The couple then attempts to come up with a spontaneous activity that would make them feel younger, which flops. So, they did what any … no, hopefully what no other couple would do: They dressed up in skimpy, heart-themed costumes and burst into Sheldon and Leonard’s apartment, tossing confetti in the air while Sheldon and Amy host a live episode of Fun With Flags.
And that brings us to the only story line that wasn’t a total Valentine’s buzzkill. Shamy decides to stream the first live edition of their internet show about “the timeless love affair between wind and flapping fabric.” In honor of the strengthening status of their relationship, and because Valentine’s Day, Sheldon tells Amy he changed the title of the show to include her. No longer is it Dr. Sheldon Cooper Presents Fun With Flags. Now it’s Dr. Sheldon Cooper and Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler Present Dr. Sheldon Cooper’s Fun With Flags. A subtle difference, but not a small one in Sheldon’s world. He is quick to point out, however, that the title change would be Amy’s only gift on this day of love.
It would be Shamy’s last romantic moment of the evening, too, because they encourage viewers to call in, and Fun With Flags’ captive audience is made up of lovelorn Raj and Kripke.
About that … Kripke is a creep under the best of circumstances, and a lovelorn Kripke only proves to be less sympathetic, thanks to sexist quips and his insistence on questioning Amy about how many men she slept with after she broke up with Sheldon.
As for Raj, he breaks up with girlfriend Emily so he could ask out Claire, the writer he met at Stuart’s comic-book shop. Emily is understandably ticked off; he broke up with her just before V-Day, after all. When he calls Claire to ask her out, she tells him she’d just reunited with her ex. “But I just broke up with my girlfriend!” Raj whines. “Right before Valentine’s Day?” Claire asks. “What an ass.” A desperate attempt to reunite with Emily leaves Raj feeling the business side of a slammed door.
So Raj whines some more on Fun With Flags, which irritates the bejesus out of Sheldon. Amy is more sympathetic (and endlessly indulgent) to Raj’s breakdown, especially since his dateless Valentine’s Day is the result of him getting the nerve to break up with Emily after he met someone he liked better.
So, to sum up this prime-time adventure on the reputed day of love: Howard gets his wish for Bernadette to get pregnant, but only their (possibly rabid) pet bunny knows about it; Penny has a successful career, a new marriage, and a group of devoted friends, but her first Valentine’s Day as a married woman is ruined by lack of attention from a doofy 21-year-old; and Raj loses two women in one day, including one he didn’t even want to date anymore.
What’s the takeaway here? That two of the group’s most socially awkward members are now in the healthiest, happiest relationship? Or is it that major happy news for one of the show’s couples was so underwhelmingly revealed to viewers as to render it, and the whole episode, underwhelming?
The former is certainly true, but sadly, so is the latter. And with a season that’s moving through its big moments at a pretty quick pace, any milestone moment is a terrible thing to waste.
- Howard, after naming Valentino: “Look at all that chest hair and overbite. Of course you’re a Wolowitz.”
- Sheldon, trying to relate to Raj’s discomfort about breaking up with Emily: “Once, I ordered an Uber by accident. I just got in and went somewhere.”
- Sheldon is nervous about whether Fun With Flags fans will be available to watch the live episode on Valentine’s Day. Amy reassures him: “People who are fans of an internet show about flags … trust me, they’re around.”
- Sheldon, growing ever more impatient with Raj and Kripke’s romantic woes: “Speaking of ending relationships, when British Honduras became Belize, they designed a new flag with a tree on it. And I would like to hang myself from that tree.”