‘The Big Bang Theory’ Recap: ‘The Transporter Malfunction’

It’s T-minus seven days until Stephen Hawking is slated to appear on The Big Bang Theory, but this episode has no slouch of a guest either: Leonard Nimoy.

In “The Transporter Malfunction,” Leonard Nimoy – or at least, his voice – speaks to Sheldon, pushing Cooper into a dilemma, and eventually, helping him out of it. But first, Raj is once again facing the stigma of singlehood in a group of coupled friends.

When Howard pushes Raj to answer his RSVP to Howard and Bernadette’s wedding, Raj responds with a “plus one.” Unable to answer who this mysterious “plus one” is when pressed by Howard & co., Raj turns to untraditional sources. Or, actually, very traditional.

Raj video chats with his parents in India, saying “we need to talk.” The convo turns weird when his parents think Raj is coming out… Raj does, in a way… he comes out metrosexual, meaning he likes “women and their hair care products.” But while his parents are very supportive of whatever “alternative lifestyle” Raj chooses, he requests something a little more up their alley: an arranged marriage.

Now, arranged marriages are not what they’re made out to be: parents don’t force a spouse on unwilling offspring. Instead, arranged marriages are more like “match making,” where both parties are interested in marriage.

As per custom, Howard and Bernadette accompany Raj on his first date with Lakshmi, as chaperones. Lakshmi is beautiful, seems sweet, and everything goes so swimmingly it even leads to a second – and unchaperoned – second date, at Raj’s apartment, with Raj playing cook.

Both Raj and Lakshmi–and their parents – are wondering where this relationship is going, so Lakshmi lays it all out on the line: she likes Raj, and she’s been getting a lot of pressure from her parents to get married, settle down, and start a family, which is what she wants to do, so they don’t find out she’s gay. Dun dun dun.

Lakshmi thought Raj the perfect stooge for this con marriage, since there are rumors in New Delhi that Raj is “comfortable in a sari” (side note: cross dressing does not equality homosexuality. Get with the times, Indian stereotypes). Lakshmi thought for sure the rumors were true: “You’re wearing more perfume than I am.” She’s disappointed that her plan has hit a snag, yet…

Raj confides in Howard (who takes Raj’s secret and passes it around like it’s a joint at Bonnaroo) that he’s thinking of marrying Lakshmi anyway – he’d like a companion and Raj is scared he’ll never find any one else willing to marry him.

Raj is one of the sweetest and nicest characters on The Big Bang Theory – at least, most of the time – so it’s surprising that he hasn’t found a mate yet. Despite he’s inability to talk to women without being intoxicated, you’d think there’d be someone out there for him – like a woman who can’t talk to men unless she’s downed half a bottle of Yellow Tail.

Later, Bernadette and Howard stop by Raj’s to give him the advice any sane person would: don’t settle for someone who doesn’t truly love you, just because you’re lonely. If lack of companionship is all that’s getting Raj down (and driving him to such desperate fantasies), then they have the solution for him: a puppy!

Bernie and Howard gift Raj an adorable Yorkie puppy… and the first thing Raj does with this little bundle of wet-nosed joy? See if she fits in his “man purse;” leading Bernadette to comment out of his ear shot: “Metrosexual my ass.”

Hey, you know what’d be nice? If shows didn’t use outdated and illogical stereotypes to pigeonhole characters into fake and made-up sexualities. If cooking well and dressing nicely made all men gay, then half of New York would be world-class chefs and GQ editors.

Meanwhile, after Sheldon ribbed Penny for eating all of his and Leonard’s food for free, Penny takes her residual check from her commercial (it was for anal warts, or anal rashes or… hemorrhoids, yes, it was hemorrhoids!) to buy the guys a gift. To Sheldon, she gifts a mint-in-the-box Star Trek transporter toy, earning her a rare note of approval from Sheldon (though not a hug). To Leonard, she gifts a label maker…

Just to see the look on his face. After Leonard struggles for a minute with the dual emotions of disappointment and jealousy, Penny hands him his real gift: another Star Trek transporter toy!

Though, to Penny’s dissatisfaction, neither of the guys wants to open up their gift, because the toy loses its value once it’s taken out of the box; which was the same speech Penny’s mom gave about virginity (Penny found out it’s more fun to take it out of the box and play with it).

Later that night, Sheldon is working on his computer when he hears a voice… a very, familiar voice… could it be? Leonard Nimoy?

Sheldon looks down at his desk and realizes his Spock doll is speaking to him, tempting him to play with his toy (not intended as innuendo). Using his Jedi mind tricks (Spock was a Jedi, right?), mini Spock gets Sheldon to agree that the purpose of a toy is for playing; therefore, to not play with a toy… would be illogical.

Giddily Sheldon wakes up from his dream (come on, you didn’t think toys could actually talk, did you?), and runs over to his toy transporter. He carefully opens the box, taking a whiff of that 40-year-old stale air: “That’s what I always thought 1975 smelled like.” He shoves his Spock doll into the transporter and… it breaks.

Panicking, Sheldon decides to switch his transporter with Leonard’s, who will never be the wiser, since he’ll never open his box…

Again asleep, Sheldon finds himself in a deserted moonscape, and the Spock doll once again takes the physical shape of Sheldon’s conscious. “You should be ashamed of yourself,” mini Spock says. Sheldon fires back – he thought Spock came from an emotionless place? Truthfully, though: “I come from a factory in Taiwan.” Spock insists Sheldon must do the right thing — so Sheldon picks up the Spock doll… and throws it, probably launching it into an oxygen-less orbit.

The next day, Sheldon is once more at his computer – this time, for real – and mini Spock is casting the evil eye Sheldon’s way. His conscious getting the better of him, Sheldon decides to switch the toys back… but then re-switches (this is, after all, Sheldon, sympathy rarely muddles his judgment).

Penny and Leonard return to the apartment, barely missing the ol’ switcher… and to Sheldon’s dismay, Penny convinces Leonard to open up his toy. When Leonard reaches in, instead of a transporter, he finds a pile of cheap, colored plastic and springs (it’s interesting to note, however, that Leonard was oblivious to the fact that the air inside the box smelled eerily of 2012, not 1975).

Assuming Stewart at the comic book store sold her a broken toy, the two are about go over there to demand a refund when Sheldon owns up… or at least, tries to… First he throws out lie after lie, until finally revealing the truth, and returning Leonard’s unbroken toy.

So Sheldon grows a semi-, Spock-inspired conscious, and everything’s honky dory. Except… isn’t Sheldon supposed to be a genius? Couldn’t he have reassembled the broken transporter with some simple crazy glue and a replacement spring? Children in Taiwan spend all day making these cheap toys… couldn’t Sheldon?

This article was originally published on AllMediaNY.com

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