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The Big Bang Theory Recap: Paint(ball)ed Into a Corner

The Big Bang Theory

The Paintball Scattering
Season 12 Episode 11
Editor’s Rating *****

The Big Bang Theory

The Paintball Scattering
Season 12 Episode 11
Editor’s Rating *****
Photo: Michael Yarish/Warner Bros

Super Asymmetry, Super Asymmetry, Super Asymmetry … that’s going to be the main Shamy story line for the rest of the series, apparently, and I’m already wishing for a big time jump that might allow us to go into the future to find out what else is going to happen in the Fowler-Cooper family.

I mean, hooray for all of Sheldon and Amy’s success with their theory, but when we’ve gotten to the point where the two are fighting because one is getting more attention than the other as the public face of their project, it’s just not a satisfying way to spend the last dozen or so episodes of the series with these two characters.

Plus, it’s no surprise that Sheldon is the one feeling all jealous about the fact that Amy is getting time in the media spotlight. Just as it’s no surprise that Amy is asked by Caltech President Siebert to be that public face, instead of Sheldon, as Siebert rightfully predicts Sheldon’s potentially prickly responses if interviewers dare to compare his work to scientists who’ve come before him.

Sheldon’s particularly irked by the headline on a Wired magazine interview with Amy: “The Neurobiologist Who Revolutionized Physics.” Amy points out that she didn’t write the headline, and that she spent most of the story gushing about and giving credit to her brilliant collaborator and husband. A Sheldon hissy fit continues nonetheless, until he’s sitting across from an interviewer who asks if his work is derivative of theoretical physicist Joseph Polchinski, sending Sheldon fleeing from the room and Amy left to respond — the very scenario Siebert had tried to avoid.

Developments in the relationships with the rest of the gang are far more interesting, and are revealed during a revisit to one of the group’s favorite activities: paintball.

Things have been moving right along for the recently engaged Raj and Anu, and when she says she even stood up to her mother and insisted that Raj be allowed to plan the floral arrangements for their wedding, it sparks a vote of confidence that they are getting to know each other, and are appreciating the things they’re finding out. But when Raj installs a video doorbell at Anu’s apartment — and takes a peek at the comings and goings at her front door — he finds out she’s still friends with her ex, who visits Anu to retrieve some belongings.

Raj freaks out. Already busted for spying on his fiancée with the app he installed, he further disrespects her by demanding to know if she slept with her ex when he came to pick up his Waterpik. She answers — nothing happened — but insists Raj has to trust her.

“How can I trust you? I barely even know you!” he says.

“Then what are we doing? Why are we planning a wedding?” Anu asks. Their date, and likely their engagement, comes to an abrupt end when Anu leaves paintball with Amy and Sheldon.

Raj was a jerk, and this arranged marriage seemed like a pretty nutty way for his character to wrap up the series when Anu was introduced at the beginning of the season. But the writers have made it work. And with no small amount of credit to the delightful Rati Gupta as Anu, and her chemistry with Kunal Nayyar, Raj and Anu’s courtship has become one of the best story lines of season 12.

And then there’s Stuart and Denise. He’s her boss and her boyfriend, a scenario that might be just too weird to be fun or funny with less likable actors playing them. But it’s also one of the most hopeful story lines of the season that the oft hapless Stuart might finally have a successful business and a happy personal relationship, one that would allow him to stop being the live-in babysitter at Casa Wolowitz.

Moving out, in fact, is the hot topic of the moment for Stuart and Denise, as her roommate is about to move out, and she asks Stuart if he’d like to shack up.

He runs away. Not because he doesn’t like Denise, and not even because he doesn’t want to live with her. Stuart is so used to his haplessness that he worries moving in will mean messing up the good thing he and Denise have forged. Denise pelted him with a lot of paintballs the day before, but when Stuart shows up at work all black and blue from the hits and explains himself, she’s understanding.

Maybe that time jump could include a double wedding for Rajanu and Stunise?

Theor-ems

• The biggest surprise of the paintball match: Leonard is the first pick when team captain Denise chooses players. “First? For a team?” he asks. “What is happening?”

• Penny’s first choice is Bernie because “she’s vicious and can hide behind a mushroom.”

• Sheldon has invented a signature cocktail for himself. The “Dr. Cooper” is a glass of Champagne with a packet of Splenda added, named so because Sheldon is “also sweet and bubbly,” Amy explains.

The Big Bang Theory Recap: Paint(ball)ed Into a Corner