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7.04 "the Raiders Minimization" (October 10)

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  On 10/12/2013 at 11:39 PM, Lionne said:

I find Beverly hilarious - Christine Baranski is so funny she makes my toes curl. In this particular instance, Leonard got what was coming to him. He took Penny's kindness and sympathy and then milked it egregiously, and then bragged about doing so to Howard. He was clearly owed a major smackdown, and it was brought from the place all his greatest smackdowns stem - his mother. I really have no arguments with it. I understand that Leonard has looked for sympathy and understanding his whole life and never really found comfort - until this instance with Penny. I think that having someone be sympathetic and sweetly try to make him feel better rather than show cold indifference to his emotional state was so unusual that he got completely drunk on it and then ran away with it. I find that totally understandable and certainly don't hate him for it, but I also don't see it as an excuse. I'm always fond of the lesson that kharma is a bitch, and I liked the storyline and resolution here better than I did, say, Leonard having a legitimate problem with Priya and Beverly just telling him to, "buck up, sissy pants." He really didn't deserve any of that in that case, but in this case he did, so I appreciated the humor and Beverly's appearance more. Leonard went too far with milking Penny's sympathy, and it got shut down in such a way that you know he learned his lesson and will stop doing it, and you kinda feel sorry for him even if he got himself into that particular mess.

 

I thought that Raj and Stuart were incredibly funny. Kevin's faces to the camera during his photo shoot were pure genius. I was laughing so hard over those. Also, I think that the experience of online dating is genuine to how it really works. Even if you're relatively attractive or sweet-natured, the dating world can be total hell. Putting yourself out there like Raj and Stuart are doing is brave, and that they keep being hopeful despite all of the smackdowns makes me root for them.

 

Amy and Sheldon's storyline was both funny and interesting. I got chills when Amy tells Sheldon he can be honest about his feelings, and he snaps from trying to seem at ease with some of his nervous twitching as he was suppressing his emotions to the way he leaps forward, suddenly his body connecting with how he feels, and he tells her that he's mad at her. It was some amazing acting there on Jim's part, and quite fascinating to the development of their relationship and Sheldon's evolution. They seem to be hitting a nail on the head about Sheldon connecting to his emotional side and, most importantly, displaying them openly and directly to the people around him. It takes more trust in the people around you to be able to do that.

 

And if you think that Sheldon has no problem voicing his emotions and feelings, I'm really not sure what show you have been watching. This is a guy who, seasons back, was asked, "How does that make you feel," and answered with, "I don't understand the question." Or, when riddled with jealousy by watching Amy date Stuart, took such backwards routes as stalking Stuart's Facebook page, lashing out and defriending all of his friends when they suggest he has feelings for her, and then trying to ask Penny out on a date as part of a manipulative game to make her jealous. As recently as Leonard leaving for the North Sea, Sheldon dealt with this by warning him about death by drowning or sharks, and even went so low as to throw Leonard's relationship with Penny in his face to try to make him consider not leaving. When confronted by Leonard about his unique blend of "concern and selfishness," Sheldon will not admit to having those feelings even while he plunges on with behavior clearly motivated by those feelings.

 

Even while Leonard is gone, Sheldon sits on the couch with Penny, denying strenuously that he misses Leonard while listing off waffles, zipper-help, and night time knocks on the wall in loving detail as clear evidence of how desperately he actually misses him. In fact, he's so worried about Leonard, and misses him so much, it manifests in his subconscious in the form of a nightmare of Leonard being taken by the Kraken. His response is to show up at Penny's and suggest he better sleep there because SHE is the one who is probably having a hard time sleeping, again, operating from denial of his feelings which he projects onto her. Another example of Sheldon going sideways instead of straight when in emotion distress is when Leonard dissolves the roommate agreement. Sheldon throws the circuit breaker and tries to demonstrate all the reasons why he's a valuable asset to Leonard as a friend and roommate to make him resign it and come back again. This sideways dealing is clearly Sheldon's established modus operandi. He could just tell Leonard he misses him, wants him back, and appreciates all that Leonard does for him, but he's not capable of it.

 

The level of denial, particularly his inability to express his emotions in a straightforward manner, with Sheldon is immense and has been a front-and-center issue with him since the beginning. It's been portrayed a zillion different ways throughout all 6 seasons, and is a major theme coming into season 7 as well. In this episode, I find it greatly fascinating and in total keeping with the canon that when Amy confronts Sheldon about his mode of operation he says it's because that's how it's parents did it. He goes sideways at things because of trauma from watching his parents marriage implode, and he's learned these passive-aggressive and indirect ways of dealing from watching them and from his relationships from his youth. (I imagine that the bullying only double-downed on reinforcing the idea that "being himself" and "being honest about the way he feels or thinks" was completely unacceptable, and he had to find other ways to manage himself. He looked externally for other role-models, and found Spock, Data - brilliant, emotionless, in control, untouchable - and the rest is history.)

 

Oh, and he also does this because it's funny. ;)

 

I know a lot of people latched onto Sheldon's "how can someone not know how they feel" from last season as evidence that Sheldon knows precisely how he feels, but I think that just because Sheldon knows he loves trains, hammerhead sharks and dislikes holding hands that's hardly proper evidence that the man's crystal clear on how feels about everything in his life. He's obviously mixing up opinions and emotions. I thought the man was clearly fooling himself, but apparently the statement also fooled some people in the audience because a lot of people use that as evidence that Sheldon has no inward uncertainy or emotional turmoil. However, I think there's far more evidence to the contrary. Sheldon has used denial and condescension as his primary coping skills all his life, but they aren't getting him where he wants to go anymore. So they are starting to bleed off at times, and watching that happen is as fascinating. Almost as fascinating is watching what type of viewer does or does not like seeing Sheldon make this progress, but that's another post for another day.

 

Back to Leonard & Beverly - Sorry, Phanta, but I have to disagree with you on the idea that it's clear Beverly loves Leonard and Leonard loves her. I think Beverly's ability to love is pretty limited. And I have to disagree with you that she wasn't incredibly abusive towards him or that he was not deeply scarred psychologically and emotionally by his upbringing. Also, I believe that Leonard is the middle child or that the show didn't really think that one through. When Raj threatens to have his way with Leonard's sister, Leonard says she's 36 and married, indicating that she was at least 6 years older than him. But when Beverly comes to visit Leonard the first time, she mentioned his YOUNGER brother, Michael. So, apparently, Leonard is the oldest boy but middle child, but I think he really gets the dirty end of the stick between all his siblings.

 

Beverly's books don't show any love towards Leonard at all - Needy Baby, Greedy Baby and The Disappointing Child. What she did with the Easter Eggs?

 

Beverly is a nightmare of a parent, and she messed up Leonard something fierce. He has consistently shown and mentioned this throughout the series. He was on a continual quest for love that was never given, and as this episode proved, he was angry at him Mom all the time and unable to express his feelings without her misunderstanding and twisting it into something it was not. Not only that, but she has put every single one of his most empbarrassing moments growing up out there for the world to read about, leaving him with barely a single shred of dignity. His issues with insecurity, which hamper his relationship with Penny, all tie back to her. I think Leonard got a hard smackdown in this episode - and he deserved it this time - but overall I feel for him greatly and think he had a horrid, horrid childhood in which, just like Sheldon, he was denied self-expression and understanding and room in which to be himself.

 

The most fascinating thing about Leonard and Sheldon's relationship is that they both come from embattled backgrounds and borderline abusive childhoods, but they took entirely different defensive and coping strategies. Sheldon decided to shut down emotionally, and to place himself above it all. He aspired to be detached and unemotional and used his brilliance in academics to get out as fast as he could. On the other hand, Leonard "knuckled under" and went the people-pleasing route, trying to jump through every hoop, such as giving up rap music for academics, writing papers to be graded for Christmas, striving for the highest academic achievements in the sciences in a fruitless, hopeless bid to try to win his parent's attention, love and approval. They couldn't have taken more different strategies, but I think that there's an unspoken understanding between the two of them that they know the horror the other faced and what coping methods they took, and their entire relationship is built on sometimes using the others weaknesses to their advantage, sometimes just accepting the other and the comfort in being around someone who accepts you for who you are as a shelter against the world outside, and supporting the other through thick and thin.

 

Sometimes you need episodes which might not seem exciting on the surface, but which build certain blocks necessary for plot development later. Obviously, those types of stories come early in the season. I think that this was one of them - we hit on issues for all 7 characters here (oh, and no, I don't think that Bernadette was a shrew or that there was signs of divorce for Howard and Bernadette. If anything, it showed that they are settling into their marriage and operating at a higher level than the other two couples as far as relating to each other) that show where they are "on the path of life." To me it was a very fascinating check in with everyone's psychological standpoints and issues, which I find deeply interesting and gives the show more than the take-it-or-leave-it fluff we get most of the time.

 

So for me it was actually a very good episode, one that I found funny but also very interesting.

I feel weird for even replying on this thread, after almost a year passed since the episode aired. But since I stumbled upon this thread and read some comments I feel need to reply.

_____________________________________

I understand that ! I've just found it after what must be five years and yet your post and the one to which you're replying are both so sensitively and painstakingly written I just have to say, 'Well done !'   I enjoyed reading them.

I take the point that there's a big difference between an emotion and an opinion. So often nowadays the word 'feel' is used instead of 'believe' or 'think' that some people have got the idea they mean the same.

 

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