REVIEW - The Big Bang Theory - S07E09 - ‘The Thanksgiving Decoupling’

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It’s Thanksgiving this week on The Big Bang Theory and all of the gang have been invited to spend it at the Wolowitz household with Howard’s mother and Bernadette’s father.

Sheldon does not want to spend Thanksgiving with the Wolowitz clan (and makes some racially insensitive jokes likening himself to a slave, being forced to do something he does not want too… These were just, uh, I don’t want to even get started. Sure Sheldon can be ignorant of many things, but this was just too far. Quit with these jokes already.), and Penny tries to cheer him up by telling him stories about Thanksgivings spent in unlikely places that turned out to be enjoyable. She recounts the Thanksgiving she spent with Zack three years ago (you remember Zack, the guy who thought the others were going to blow up the moon?) in Vegas when they got “fake” married. 

… What?! Turns out Penny has been married to Zack for the past three years, and neither of them realised it was a real marriage. Obviously Leonard is pretty upset since Penny agreed to marry Zack (albeit in an inebriated state), but has always turned Leonard down when he asked. This leads to a few pretty heated moments between Leonard and Penny, compounded by Zack’s sudden reappearance to sign the divorce papers.

When I first heard the title of this week’s episode, I feared there was going to be a break-up. I’m not going to lie, I thought it would be Leonard and Penny. As soon as I heard about the Penny and Zack thing though, I breathed a sigh of relief, thinking, ‘oh, that’s the break-up’, but then Leonard and Penny start fighting, and Zack shows up again, reluctant to sign the papers… This was an interesting curveball to throw into the Leonard and Penny saga, and I’m sure it caught many of us off guard, so hats off to the writers for keeping the Leonard and Penny drama interesting (at least for one week anyway).

Meanwhile, Bernadette’s father seems as reluctant as Sheldon is to spend Thanksgiving in the Wolowitz house, and tries to tune everything out by drinking beer and watching football. Sheldon, who grew up watching football under the tutelage of his father, makes a comment about one of the plays. This intrigues Mr Rostenkowski, who asks Sheldon about his childhood and knowledge of football. Sheldon tells Mr Rostenkowski about his father and his subsequent death, who feels sorry for Sheldon and they begin to bond. This upsets Howard greatly, because his father abandoned him when he was eight, and has yet been unable to bond with Mr Rostenkowski. The other two begin to pick on Howard, so he turns to the one person who can stick up for him, Bernadette…

This story was quite sweet to start off with… until of course I realised it was just being used as a vehicle to get Sheldon drunk and make further inappropriate comments to those around him. Sigh. Sitcoms don’t have to be laugh a minute all of the time, sometimes they can just have ‘aww’ moments, something The Big Bang Theory has struggled with for a while. They got it perfectly right last season when Howard rediscovered an old letter his father sent him, but they haven’t been able to find this balance again since. I am optimistic that they can though.

Overall this was quite an interesting episode, with a couple of stories I don’t think we would have seen coming. Sure there was the classic shouting of Mrs Wolowitz, off-screen, whenever someone mentioned food, to remind us of the classic show, and a bit about Raj, Bernadette and Amy cooking for Thanksgiving that never really seemed to go anywhere (which made the episode seem a bit off-kilter), but it made for a solid episode.

Review by Heather Bale.


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