February 7, 2014

The Big Bang Theory: "The Locomotive Manipulation" Review

Last night's Valentine's-themed episode of The Big Bang Theory threw an (un)expected twist into Sheldon and Amy's relationship. Since any attempt to recap it here would do a disservice to the acting of Jim Parsons and Mayim Bialik, why don't you just watch the scene again for yourself:

This sarcastically begun and romantically completed kiss was unexpected because the episode started out like all the others: Sheldon ignores Amy, Amy sighs and looks longingly at the other relationships in the group. But the moment wasn't entirely out of nowhere. The writers have been building to this moment for, well, multiple seasons now. And the Sheldon/Amy relationship has been progressing, in small ways, since its inception.

Source: cbs.com
What I loved best about this perfect moment in an otherwise unremarkable episode was its proof of authentic character development, as opposed to character betrayal. (For an example of character betrayal, look no further than How I Met Your Mother's Barney Stinson or the fourth season of Community.) Sheldon became closer to Amy in this moment than the character has been with anyone else up to this point. It can't be easy to make this kind of 360-degree turn with a character so utterly averse to human intimacy. Yet the writers in the setup and Parsons in his execution were able to sell it as authentically "Sheldon." 

Maybe it was the sarcasm, or the childlike interest in trains that bookended the moment, or the way he awkwardly stepped in closer to Amy when he decided he wasn't kidding anymore. But the real moment that sent me reeling was the fact that he invited Amy along with him to the engine room. For Sheldon, intimacy has never been about the physical. He wants to be with Amy, and he wants her to be with him. Perhaps this is why the relationship has captivated fans. It's not a flash-in-the-pan. It's a slow, steady romance that we can root for. The characters are growing, but still the same at their cores. They are becoming more real, rather than becoming caricatures of who they once were. It's the kind of romance that's television magic. 

Happy Valentine's Day, Sheldon and Amy. We love you.