Caroline Preece

Feb 11, 2019

The Big Bang Theory blasts through a fair bit of audience goodwill in its latest season 12 episode…

This review contains spoilers.

12.15 The Donation Oscillation

While The Big Bang Theory has been delivering clever twists and turns this season, The Donation Oscillation undermines a lot of that and possibly sheds some goodwill along with it.

What once seemed like promising storylines for characters who’d run out of mileage well before this final season began are now left feeling like pointless wheel-spinning. If Raj wasn’t going to get married to Anu, then why did we spend multiple episodes discussing the validity of an arranged marriage? And if Leonard has ultimately decided not to contribute to Zach and his wife’s family, then why has he been agonising about it for weeks? It’s odd, even if it’s not entirely unexpected.

Both storylines figure heavily into this episode, even if only one of them does directly. The moment has come for Leonard to make his ‘donation’ and, despite Penny’s continued reservations about the whole thing, he seems excited to be a part of starting a family – any family.

But because this is not a couple historically good at communicating, there are resentments lingering on both sides. Leonard may say he’s accepted that Penny doesn’t want children, but he still has a desire to father a child – even if only biologically – and Penny feels that Leonard’s decision reflects badly on her and could mean that her decision not to be a mother drives a further wedge between them.

So how do they resolve this? Penny tries to seduce Leonard prior to his date at the clinic (by reading comic books in sexy lingerie), and Leonard runs away.

Thankfully, with the help of Penny’s dad and a quick conversation with Amy and Sheldon (of all people), he realises that his urge to accept Zach’s request is less about being a good person and helping them out, and much more about a subconscious desire to be a father in any way he can. As this situation would end with him knowing he had a biological child out there but he wouldn’t be a dad, he opts out. Any chance of Sheldon taking his place has been firmly shut down by Amy.

Running parallel to this is the salvaging of Raj’s abandoned stag do, which sees Howard use his NASA connections to get the group onto the ‘vomit comet’. Sheldon and Leonard can’t make it, so the boys invite Anu and Bernadette… eventually. Howard first invites Bert and Stuart before his wife, assuming that she wouldn’t enjoy the experience. She balks at this immediately and spends the rest of the episode trying to prove a point to Howard.

Frankly, I’m more interested in the fact that Anu was so into it. Raj is a moron for not marrying her.

While I guess Leonard’s storyline was a continuation of his and Penny’s fertility saga, this is an odd way to end it. I’m still completely flummoxed about what event is going to frame the series finale now that birth is on the scrap heap along with a wedding (unless Penny gets pregnant by accident, which would be the absolute worst thing to happen).

It’s not long until we find out, but I hope the show finds something to do in these last episodes that actually sticks.