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.