Confession time, Big Bang theorists: I wrote last week's Big Bang Theory recap in a sleepless torrent of end-of-the-year deadlines and holiday hoopla, so I may have slightly overstated that particular episode's strengths. But although I am currently typing this week's recap waiting for my red-eye flight home at Los Angeles International Airport, I am nonetheless fully in possession of my facilities when I call it one of my absolute favorite Big Bangs of the season. Sheldon as the Flash! Raj as Aquaman! Leonard and Penny drama! The long-suffering sardonic wit of Stuart the Comic-Book Store owner! Candy-related controversy! Spandex! Happy holidays, everybody!
The episode started with the unexpected return of Zack, Penny's off-again, on-again flame (and Amy Farrah Fowler's sexual kryptonite) played as an agreeably affable mimbo by Brian Thomas Smith. The Big Bang foursome quickly made sport of poor Zack's thin understanding of, well, anything (although based on a quick consultation with my sister, a Ph.D candidate in plant biology, there are indeed times in science where there isn't really "one right answer" -- but that's for a different post on a very different website). The best exchange between Zack and the boys, obviously:
Zack: I saw this great thing on the Discovery Channel -- turns out that if you kill a starfish, it will just come back to life.
Sheldon: [Cold stare.] Was the starfish wearing boxer shorts? Because you might have been watching Nickelodeon.
Unfortunately, the teasing turned kinda mean, Zack's feelings were bruised, and Penny lectured the boys for being intellectual bullies. Leonard, being the unflagging mensch he is, immediately proposed an apology, but was only able to roust his compatriots to join him after dangling the prospect of physical violence upon his person. Although one suspects Sheldon was also secretly eager to prove his hypothesis that Milk Duds are "the most apologetic of the boxed candies."
They certainly worked on Zack, who quickly joined the boys on a sojourn to Stuart's comic book store. While he and Raj sought out Archie comics (anyone else tickled to learn there are multiple Archie universes?), Stuart mentioned his annual New Year’s Eve costume party, and Sheldon began ruminating on making another run at winning the costume contest as the Justice League -- by replacing Leonard with Zack as their Superman. “He is the only person we know with actual muscles,” Howard noted. (And here I gotta hand it to Big Bang’s producers for hiring a genially strapping actor for Zack who nonetheless would be laughed out of any Abercrombie & Fitch model casting he dared walk into.)
NEXT: Penny isn't happy playing Wonder Woman; so why won't she take the costume off?