'The Big Bang Theory' Season 11, Episode 21 Recap: I Can’t Believe How Raj Treated Penny


I’d like to report a missing person, and his name is Rajesh Koothrappali. It seems some alien force targeted Pasadena and either replaced him with his evil twin or brainwashed him into thinking he’s an asshole. Because the real Raj was nowhere in sight on tonight’s Big Bang Theory, titled “The Comet Polarization.” Michael Wolowitz’s namesake (well, one of them anyway)—Neil Gaiman—may have made Stuart’s comic book store the hottest ticket in town, but it was the Raj and Penny storyline that lit a fire under me.

At the start of the episode, the gang gathers on the Friends old rooftop (OK, maybe not, but it looked awfully similar) to discuss Twitter followers and planets. You know, normal rooftop talk. Raj asks Penny if she wants to look through his telescope and instructs her to take a picture if she sees something. Seconds later, Penny says she does see something, but it’s fuzzy. Raj assumes it’s an eyelash. Penny says he’s crazy, so Raj suggests she take a picture. And after Raj takes a look, he admits that she might have seen something important after all: a comet.

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PHOTO: Jordin Althaus/Warner Bros. Entertainment

The next day, he stops by Leonard and Penny’s to confirm that it was a previously undiscovered comet. Penny is more delighted than she was at her own wedding. “I discovered a comet!” she exclaims. But then something weird happens: Raj’s demeanor changes, and he condescendingly asks, “What do you mean you discovered it?”

“I’m the one that saw it,” Penny responds.

“In my telescope,” Raj counters. “That I positioned. All you did was look into it.”

What? Leonard suggests they both discovered it, so they can put both their names on the registration. But Raj says he can’t do that because he already put his name down and “that’s who I am and that’s what I did.” (Insert my livid reaction here.)

Penny is rightly beside herself and questions Raj’s sanity, but Raj isn’t having it. Instead, he offers this low blow: “Do you even know what a comet is?” Penny—with the best comeback ever—says, “Yeah! The thing I saw first!”

Raj still doesn’t think that qualifies as a discovery, but Penny reminds him she took the picture. Raj then to insults his friend with this childish statement: “If a monkey took a picture, did it discover the comet?” Penny is furious and orders Raj to get the hell out of her apartment, as she should.

Later, Penny (after apparently googling “who owns the discovery of a comet?”) tells Leonard that the Internet says because she took the picture, she discovered the comet. Leonard agrees with his wife, but questions why she cares. (Groan.) Penny explains that people doubt her all the time because they take one look at her and “assume I don’t know what I’m talking about.” Leonard says he’s sure that’s not true, which frustrates Penny even more because it’s a clear dismissal of her feelings. All Leonard wants to do is make his wife feel better, but what he doesn’t understand is that trying to put a band-aid over something that goes much deeper is never the solution.

In fact, Penny reveals she recently had a great idea at work, but no one paid attention to her until five minutes later when a guy made the same suggestion and the entire room rallied around him. The great idea was about where to eat for lunch, but still. Penny says it happens with all the doctors she encounters too, and she’s over their condescending attitude. “I’m sick of letting this stuff slide,” she tells Leonard. “I found that comet. Why should Raj say he found it?”

Leonard continues to completely dismiss his wife and offers up this gem: “I know you’re right, but Raj is our friend, and this could be good for his career.” Yikes.

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PHOTO: Michael Yarish/Warner Bros.

Penny says her husband is such a people-pleaser (truth) who can’t stand to make anyone angry (truth x2). Leonard professes that he’s on her side, but I (and Penny) don’t want to hear it. At the moment, I just want to send Leonard, Raj, and Sheldon off to a program to cure their toxic masculinity. In fact, while the Raj/Penny/Leonard situation is happening, Sheldon is at Stuart’s comic book store doubting an employee’s intelligence and capabilities—because she’s new and a woman. It’s only when she proves how well-versed she is in the comic book universe that Sheldon comes around. Spare me this tired trope.

Meanwhile, Leonard goes to Raj and tries to reason with him. Leonard asks Raj to add her name to the registration, but he says he already told everyone at work that he did it and his boss now calls him Captain Comet. Apparently it’s all he’s ever dreamed of. Raj needs new dreams.

Leonard suggests he just swallow his pride, but Raj says he can’t. (I also can’t with Raj.) Then, in a complete 180, Raj says he brought this on himself, he’s a bad scientist, and a selfish person. Of course, he just does that to make Leonard feel bad for him in the hopes that he’ll talk to his wife and try to make her see his POV. And Leonard falls for it hook, line, and sinker.

Penny—proving once again she’s smarter than everyone else—tells Leonard that Raj played him, and Leonard admits that Penny is strong enough to fight her own battles. “You’re a strong, independent woman that has her own voice, and to quote another strong woman—Katy Perry—it’s time to hear you roar.” It’s all a little much, but it’s kind of cute. Leonard’s like a puppy that can’t help himself. Unfortunately for Penny, he’s like a puppy that can’t help himself.

Penny visits Raj, who’s nervous just at the sound of her walking up the stairs to his apartment. As soon as he opens the door, he apologizes to Penny because in his mind anything is better than having Penny angry with him. Again, it’s beyond annoying that it takes Penny getting angry for Raj to come to his senses, but I don’t know why I’m expecting more. Raj says he’s going to put her name on the comet with his, even if it’s professionally embarrassing or it puts him on thin ice at work or makes him lose his funding. Again, it’s obvious Raj still doesn’t get it—he’s just trying reverse psychology on Penny—but Penny doesn’t fall for it. “Good!” she says in response to him saying he’ll put her name on the comet. “Bye!”

After she leaves, Raj tells himself that that worked better on Leonard than Penny, proving my point two-fold: Someone kidnapped Raj, and Penny’s the real genius on this show.



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