*Spoiler warning for The Big Bang Theory, season 12, episode, 11.
It’s back! After the Christmas and New Year’s break, The Big Bang Theory has mercifully returned, and it pulled out all the stops for its new episode. “The Paintball Scattering” has all of the show’s couples at odds. While Leonard and Penny plan what they think will be a nice friendly game of paintball, Sheldon and Amy, Raj and Anu, and Stuart and Denise, are all fighting, and with guns in their hands (albeit paint-based ones), things get ugly.
After their big breakthrough last episode, Sheldon and Amy have finally published their paper on super-asymmetry together (we’ll just ignore the fact that papers like this take years of research). Yay! Watching them be all mopey after they thought their theory had been disproved was not fun (although I did enjoy the Viking funeral they threw for the paper). They’re joyously celebrating when they find out that the university only wants Amy to do the interviews about their paper, due to Sheldon’s poor people skills. If that wasn’t bad enough, the interviews lead to Amy getting most of the credit for their paper. Sheldon, as expected throws a tantrum. After making up on the paintball battlefield, they go to do an interview together at the end of the episode. The first question that is asked has Sheldon looking like his head is going to explode, and he wisely gets up from the interview to go wait in the car. This storyline is predictable, but hysterical nonetheless, especially as the show makes excellent use of comedic timing when Sheldon is asked that interview question.
Despite their engagement having been arranged, Raj and Anu are actually pretty adorable together, as they make their wedding plans – Anu insists to her mother that Raj handle the floral arrangements. Things go south, however, when Anu has Raj install a doorbell camera at Anu’s apartment. When Raj gets an alert on his phone that someone has arrived at Anu’s door, Raj unwisely looks at the video to see who it is, and finds her greeting a strange man, hugging him, and letting him in. Raj explodes with this knowledge in the middle of the paintball game. Anu is, rightfully, indignant that Raj invaded her privacy, and explains that it was an old boyfriend coming to pick up his stuff. Raj demands that Anu stop talking and seeing her ex, but Anu refuses to let him tell her what to do, and insists that he trust her. Raj bursts out in response, “how can I trust you, I barely even know you?” which forces the two to re-evaluate whether they should be getting married at all. Next week’s promo has Raj begging Anu to come back, so we’ll see what happens. Personally, I hope they work it out; they’re surprisingly cute together, and I’ve been enjoying getting to know them as a couple.
Lastly, we have Stuart and Denise – another surprisingly cute couple. When Denise asks Stuart to move in with her at the beginning of the episode, Stuart panics and runs away. She takes her anger out on him when they go up against each other in the paintball game, and shoots him a gajillion times. He finally explains later in the episode that he panicked because he liked how well things were going for them, and didn’t want to screw it up. While he doesn’t agree to move in with her, he does give her a key to his place (it’s really more of a symbolic key since his place is Howard and Bernadette’s, and they probably don’t want Stuart giving out keys to it).
A paintball game was a fun, creative way to pit the show’s warring couples against each other. While two of the three couples made up by the end, the state of Raj and Anu’s relationship remains a cliffhanger, and ensures that we will all be tuning in for next week’s episode to see what happens.