Raj rejoins the Forever Alone club.
Warning: Full spoilers for the episode below.
The Big Bang Theory delivered another Valentine’s Day-themed episode this week. But with most of the main group now happily settled down, that leaves only Raj as the source for major relationship drama. That’s a good thing. The show is practically crying out for an ongoing, Raj-centric storyline that really gets at the heart of his romantic woes and emotional problems. Instead, we got “The Valentino Submergence.”
It was clear pretty much right away that this episode wasn’t going to give Raj the focus he deserved, to say nothing of the perpetually ignored Emily. One of the most baffling mysteries of this show is why actress Laura Spencer was elevated to series regular status this season when she’s probably had less screen time than Wil Wheaton. I suppose it’s fitting that Emily was written out of the picture in such brief, unceremonious fashion. Raj’s breakup with Emily and failed attempt to date Claire should have been the main focus of the episode. Instead, it breezed through that material in a matter of seconds and chose to focus on the far more boring aftermath.
There’s always hope that this isn’t actually the end for the Raj/Emily romance. Maybe the writers really do have plans for her character. But it’s not as if their relationship has been on solid ground ever since it became clear that Raj was staying with her because he was too afraid to break up with her. The relationship was probably always doomed to fail; it just deserved a better ending than this episode delivered.
Luckily, you can always count on “Sheldon Cooper’s Fun With Flags” to salvage an otherwise disappointing episode. Or as it’s now been re-branded, “Dr. Sheldon Cooper and Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler Present: Sheldon Cooper’s Fun With Flags.” In typical Sheldon fashion, that new title turned out to be his one Valentine’s gift to Amy, though that was a pretty loving gesture in its own, weird way. It was fun to see Amy and Sheldon join forces for the first live episode of Fun With Flags. Predictably, none of the callers were particularly interested in discussing flag trivia.
It’s disappointing that this episode focused so much attention on Raj’s post-breakup blues and so little on the actual breakup. But at least there was ample entertainment to be had in watching Sheldon try to keep his show on-topic and grow progressively more bored and disillusioned. All of this led to a nice moment between Sheldon and Raj. Sheldon looked back on his own recent breakup ordeal and reminded Raj that pain can be a good thing. The show doesn’t focus on Sheldon and Raj’s friendship as often as it should, so it was good to see this rare moment of warmth between them. But even there, the moment was really more about Sheldon than Raj.
Elsewhere, Leonard and Penny embarked on a Valentine’s date that went south when they couldn’t get a table. This subplot was very simple and straightforward, but sweet and charming all the same. Leonard made a funny crack earlier in the episode about the numerous times he and Penny have broken up over the years. At this late stage in the show’s lifespan it seems appropriate for the two to confront their age and try to cling to their fading youth.
Finally, Howard and Bernadette had a little Valentine’s subplot of their own. Their story was even more bare-bones than the Leonard/Penny story, but without the charm factor going for it. The injured rabbit conflict wasn’t particularly amusing. Its only apparent purpose was to lead into the surprise twist (well, not that surprising) that Bernie is pregnant. The connection, I assume, being that the expression “The rabbit died” is another way of saying a woman is pregnant. There must have been a more interesting way to build to that moment. The hot tub premise should have been the perfect setting for Simon Helberg to unleash his physical comedy, but there was precious little of that this week.
Still, the pregnancy is a major development for the two and has been a long time in coming. Now that Howard’s mother is gone and Stuart is out of the house, Howard and Bernie need a new catalyst for evolution and new relationship drama. A pregnancy certainly fits the bill.