Alas, filmmaker Chris Columbus does not appear to tweet (I checked), so we must for now remain bereft of his feelings concerning Leonard, Sheldon, Wolowitz, and Raj’s tradition of celebrating “Columbus” Day by watching the Columbus-penned generational touchstones Goonies, Gremlins, and Young Sherlock Holmes — probably the nicest Columbus Day joke ever made about the Home Alone director, in fact. (And yes, Young Sherlock Holmes is indeed a touchstone, if only because it is the first major motion picture to feature a character fashioned entirely via computer.) (Whoa, got a bit Sheldon up in here. Apologies.)
The holiday merriment was short-lived, unfortunately, after Raj broke down at the mere mention of the Wolowitz family’s traditional Thanksgiving turbriskefil, and it wasn’t because that’s a turkey stuffed with a brisket stuffed with gefilte fish. OK, it wasn’t just because of that unholy culinary trinity; he’s also in danger of being deported back to India.
Turns out the astrophysicist hit a dead end in his research testing the predicted composition of something called trans-Neptunian objects, and Raj feared the university would cancel his visa once they learned for the last six months they’d been paying for him to dither on the internet messing with Wikipedia pages (including perhaps the one for, yes, trans-Neptunian objects.) And with that, we have our first Raj-centric Big Bang episode in an eon, and Kunal Nayyar made the most of it, especially Raj’s still-adorable inability to speak in front of women without the aid of libations.
First, that meant Raj couldn’t talk about his troubles with Penny in the room, though he was stymied once he learned Penny was listening at the door. Then Raj landed an interview to join Wolowitz’s stellar evolution team, headed by a professor fond of imbibing a splash of sherry well before sunset. All seemed to be going well, what with the inter-planetary jokes and all, until Raj met the sexy female head of the data analysis team, and he made a beeline for the sherry. It wasn’t long until he was asking her to check out his hot tub.
With Raj’s situation suddenly hopeless, Sheldon — who’d heretofore seemed interested in Raj’s plight only as an opportunity to slip in trivia about his friend and colleague’s potential new life on “the high seas as a stateless pirate” — swooped in with a dubious solution: Raj should join his research team of one. And although Raj at first said he’d rather “swim buck naked across the Ganges with a paper-cut on my nipple,” and although there was some significant dispute over whether Raj would be working “with” or “for” Sheldon, Raj reluctantly took Sheldon up on his offer. Which meant (A) we got to see Sheldon’s surprisingly corporate looking office, and (B) we were treated to likely the funniest “working hard” montage set to “Eye of the Tiger” ever, i.e. quick-cut shots of Sheldon and Raj intensely staring at dry equations on dry-erase boards. The two finally blew up at each other after Raj showed up Sheldon by (A) improving one of his equations and (B) pulling off the fingers-wiggling-up-and-down-from-interlaced-hands. But Sheldon somehow managed to overcome his Asperger’s-like inability to recognize social cues, apologized (somewhat), and by the end, it appeared they were, in fact, scientific partners, a welcome new bond in the complex molecule that is S-P-Li-W-Rh. (I’ll leave it to the chemistry geeks to tell me why and how I just got that completely wrong.)
Meanwhile, it was a bit unnerving to see Wolowitz so, well, caring and vulnerable, first about the possibility of losing Raj entirely, and then the reality of life without him constantly around. Of course, that vulnerability meant Wolowitz just horned in on Pennard’s budding relationship, which finally — finally! — showed signs of actual, laugh-out-loud comedic potential. Penny: “Leonard, honey, you don’t have to say ‘thank you’ every time we have sex.” Leonard: “Oh, OK. Tomorrow, you’re gonna get a card in the mail — just throw it away.” And even though Wolowitz managed to applaud Leonard on his “big finish” in the sack right in front of Penny, I still couldn’t help but find the fact that he channeled his loneliness into making Pennard a full breakfast rather…well…sweet. Weird.
Favorite line: “So that’s it. That was my last hope. I’m going to be deported. Sent home in disgrace. Exposed to the sardonic barbs of my cousin Sanjay, or as you might know him, Dave from AT&T customer service.”
Sure to be recurring motif: Sheldon irritating Raj with his knowledge of Hindu and Indian culture, specifically the treatment of cows.
Science so complex, it doesn’t yet have a Wikipedia page: An annihilation spectrum resulting from dark matter collisions in space — although, according to Google, it’s actually real, which just hurts my brain all the more.
How did you feel about “The Pirate Solution,” Big Bang theorists? Are you happy about Raj’s new academic position? What do you think it will mean for his friendship with Wolowitz — or am I maybe over-thinking things a bit? Were you left wanting to know more about Penny’s apparently ne’er-do-well brother? Do you think the writers were, in fact, foreshadowing an appearance by said brother, much as they foreshadowed the upcoming Thanksgiving episode? And how long do you think it will take for someone to post photos online of an actual turbriskefil?