The Big Bang Theory "The 43 Peculiarity" Review: The L Word

By MaryAnn Sleasman

Nov 16, 2012

The Big Bang Theory S06E08: “The 43 Peculiarity”

Howard and Raj noticed that every day at exactly 2:45pm, Sheldon disappeared into a storage room for exactly twenty minutes, and their mission to discover what Sheldon could possibly be doing alone in the tiny space was a simple but effective plot to turn to when the latest development in Penny and Leonard’s relationship made me want to go into Hulk mode and SMASH.

She said “I love you” so yay for progress?

Actually, for once, Penny wasn’t the party I wanted to give a swirlie to all episode long. That dubious honor certainly goes to Leonard, who, when enlightened to the fact that Penny’s history partner was a charming British guy, immediately went into panic mode. That in turn led to overcompensation mode, which was followed by a mode of my own that I like to call “Get the hell over it” mode.

Penny continued to earn my favor this week by adopting pretty much the same philosophy toward Leonard’s insecurity. And don’t get me wrong, I understand that Leonard is insecure due to his own self-awareness and adherence to the stereotype that because Penny is hot and “normal,” she can’t possibly have sincere romantic feelings for him. I understand that Penny has, in the past, lived right up to those expectations and sure, maybe, to an extent, Leonard has the right to be worried.

But my God, man, we can’t do this every time Penny gets a new study partner who just so happens to share the same kind of naughty bits as you!

Peering out through the peephole and intercepting New Guy on his way out of the building only made Leonard look like a creepy stalker—and trust me, that will do more to repel women than a fondness for Star Trek uniforms ever will. In fact, Sheldon’s assistant, Alex, whom we haven’t seen in weeks but who seemed to have an attraction to Leonard in all of his nerdy glory when we first met her, all but confirmed her crush when Leonard asked her for advice about Penny. Leonard’s lack of faith in the women around him to love and appreciate him, even as they throw themselves at him, is telling. As much as I’m going to hate my TV-viewing experience every Thursday once this story inevitably comes to fruition—and you know it’s going to do just that—I hope that Alex continues to pursue Leonard to the point that he realizes her affection and his character finds the necessary confidence to do more than react in his relationship with Penny. She took a very big step by busting out the L word, whether she meant to or not, but the mutual decision between Penny and Leonard to ignore it won’t help either of them to maintain a healthy relationship in the long run. Ultimately, she is still this barely attainable goddess in Leonard’s eyes, and he’s some weird little Hobbit she’s taken some bizarre interest in. He lives in constant fear that Penny will leave him and that when she inevitably does, he’ll be sad and alone for the rest of his life.

I’m not necessarily advocating that Leonard and Alex become a thing, but if from time to time Leonard could at least see that he has options and that he’s a worthwhile individual that women do find attractive, then he may find himself able to back off from the smothering tendencies that have driven Penny away in the past and threaten to do so again in the present.

Oh, and Sheldon just hides in the storeroom to play hacky sack and decompress from the strain of social interaction each day. His record is 43. His tongue-lashing of Howard and Raj for going to such lengths as bugging the room was glorious... and oddly vulnerable. It isn’t often that we see Sheldon acknowledge his difficulty in interacting with others outside of pointing out how those difficulties are their fault, not his.

The Stray Observation Addendum

– One-liner of the night: “He could be having the time of his life while she thinks she’s a chicken pecking for corn.” That was a weirdly dirty thought for Sheldon.

– I love that Sheldon listed “feigning interest in others” as one of the difficult social interactions he is forced to endure each day.

– For a second there, I was really worried that we had finally jumped the shark with that whole wormhole thing.

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  • ramdaskadavil Dec 05, 2012

    it would be fun,if leonard hooks up with alex..she is way hotter than penny!!!

  • JamesBullard1 Nov 20, 2012

    in fact you would think after how many years of being friends, on and off again dating and having sex, that they would be more comfortable together. she just reminds me of the super model next door who all the nerds dream about, but really have nothing in common with. they are so different, i mean look at the halloween party; penny came as a trashy cop and he came as a scientist...if that doesnt explain their relationship i dont know what does.

  • JamesBullard1 Nov 20, 2012

    wow you are an amazing writer. you said everything that i have felt is going on in the show, including the bits about Alex. as much as i love Penny, and enjoy the relationship they have (opposites attract), i have this weird side to me that is kind of rooting for the girl who appreciates Leonard for who he is, instead of what she wants him to be. they have so many common interests, i dunno for some reason i think Penny needs to realize that he is a great dude, and she will end up with some guy with the IQ of a sock puppet, and be unhappy forever.

  • FoxZerro Nov 19, 2012

    I'm glad I wasn't the only one rolling their eyes at Leonard being Jelous and Worried over Penny leaving him this week. Seriously that relationship is so tiresome. I wish they would get to the point where they are having actual problems instead of just living various scenarios from Sitcoms 101. I would have guessed that once they went through the course material they would have tried to take risks, but considering we've seen the Leonard is threatened by another male vying for Penny's affection story so many times (Stuart, David, Raj, Zack, Sheldon) that its uninteresting. Luckily they did compensate with a rather tasty B-Plot for Sheldon, Howard, and Raj, though admittedly I was wondering the whole night where is Bernadette in all this. Hopefully Leonard does realize that he is attractive to women through Alex, however I do not look forward to that detour from the show's premise in the least and also think that if they were going to do that they should have waited for the whole Penny finally says I love you to Leonard moment.

  • AndreaMcCooey Nov 17, 2012

    I liked about half this episode, the half that was about Howard and Raj trying to find out what Sheldon was doing. The whole Leonard/Penny thing is really getting on my nerves, its the same thing week-in, week-out, they both love each other but deep down feel they shouldn't really be with each other. If you dont think your partner should be with you, then there is a serious issue in your relationship. Sheldon was amazing this episode, an I really felt sorry for him when he described his struggles to navigate social interactions on a daily basis.
    Really wish he had created a wormhole though.
    Also, was a bit irked when he said he'd found Howard's "webcam" when moments earlier Howard had just said it was a spare Mars Rover camera. Small nitpicking there, but for gods sake, try to keep a little consistency from scene to scene!!

  • shocker713 Nov 18, 2012

    I just chalk it up to Sheldon once again trivializing what Howard does. To Sheldon, a million-dollar spare Mars Rover camera may as well be just a webcam, especially if all it's being used for is to broadcast a signal over a local network.

  • googlehoop Nov 17, 2012

    Yay for Leonard and Penny! Even if they break up sometime this season, at least Leonard will have had the satisfaction of hearing her say those three little words (which are apparently frowned on in society...have all the sex you want, but don't ever use the L-word). But I was a great moment for all the Leonard/Penny fans! I do think, however, that their relationship was somehow better the first time around, and it will take Leonard a long time to recover from her rejection of his declaration of love (after a year of dating...the nerve!).

    Anyway, I also hate that "jumping the shark" expression, and yes I know what it means. The wormhole thing was awesome, and I for one wasn't sitting there analyzing whether or not it was real or what that would mean to the show. This is a sitcom for God's sake...if you can't just enjoy it for what it is then stick with dramas!

  • jaden84 Nov 17, 2012

    Would have been cool if Sheldon did create a wormhole to parallel universes. Anyway, Penny said "I love you," I should be jumping for joy but this Penny we are talking about. Am glad Leonard is on a high right now but I wonder long that is going to last.

  • JustinJohnson9 Nov 17, 2012

    Good episode. Leonard has every right, given his nerdy tendencies and looks, to keep an eye on Penny's study partners. Like you said, in the past she's given him reason to feel insecure and even very watchful. Heck, the essence of this series is that these guys are completely lost when it comes to women. Penny being with Leonard, in his mind, sometimes defies logic, and on some level, he's right. But as long as they can make it through these hurdles in their "special" way, it'll be fine to me. However, like you said, Alex does present an attractive alternative and I would love to see what happens if Leonard, or even Penny, pick up on that. In fact, Penny being the jealous one would be so funny and cool to me.

    Loved the wormhole scene, especially when Sheldon snuck up behind Raj and Howard. LOL!!!

  • titanoftomorrow Nov 17, 2012

    "Leonard's lack of faith in the women around him to love and appreciate him, even as they throw themselves at him, is telling. " Isn't it the point of the entire show that they are nerds and pretty much clueless to the opposite sex. Even howard whose married to bernadette has his clueless moments and a little insecurities! I guess that's why this show is so popular we can relate to these characters I certainly do

  • LarissaPeixot Nov 17, 2012

    "Gary" as the British study buddy was really charming and kinda hot. You know, for the whole 30 seconds he was on screen. C'mon!!!!

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