Big Bang Theory: The Santa Simulation
by Kevin Rigdon (@pralix1138)
It’s a Saturnalia miracle…kinda. In The Big Bang Theory, “The Santa Simulation,” in the environs of 2311 Los Robles Avenue, folks are getting ready for Christmas. And what better way to celebrate than a rousing session of Dungeons & Dragons? Now, as a gamer, I completely understand this, and I commend the writers for the authenticity of the D&D lifestyle. Sometimes it’s just necessary to “break free from the shackles of civility” in order to cleave some goblins in twain, cut off the toes of giants, escape deadly traps, and solve riddles, and on and on by, yes, “rolling dice, and playing make-believe with a bunch of figurines…like savages.”
The guys are able to weasel out of spending time with their significant others in order to strap on imaginary armor, and wield imaginary blades, all except for Raj of course, who’s able to bring his new hetero-significant other, Stuart, to the party.
Now, I’ve crawled through many a dungeon in my time on this spinning ball of entropy called Earth (boy, that got dark, didn’t it?), and I have to say we’ve never done a holiday-themed adventure. This, again, goes to the authenticity and the creativity of the writers in this episode. Leonard comes up with a way to incorporate Christmas into the session, and hopefully get Sheldon to lighten up a bit.
Introducing the D&D quest via a scroll in a stocking is near and dear to my heart. I’ve often used scrolls while running a game. It sets the mood nicely. So, the guys (Sheldon, Howard, Raj, and Stuart) set off on a quest to save an Elven leader named Santa Claus. Again, if you’re a pen & paper gamer, you can appreciate Leonard’s thought and ingenuity which requires the pc’s (player characters) to sing a Christmas carol (Good King Wenceslas) to stop moving walls from crushing them, and lowering a drawbridge by deciphering a code; a code that turns out to be Jingle Bells played on handbells. By the way, who has handbells just lying around?
As the guys continue the quest to save Santa, the girls decide to go out for a drink, and Raj tags along because his D&D character dies right off the bat. Every gaming group has that guy: the guy whose character dies all the time. It’s like Kenny or Rory. We’ve got a guy in our current campaign that’s died at least five times. Sad really. And funny. But I digress. The girls–Raj in tow–head out, and the evening becomes more about getting Raj a girlfriend than drinking. This endeavor, much like the fate of his D&D character, ends in utter disappointment. So Raj dies twice in the episode, figuratively of course.
In his death spiral, Raj brings Amy down as well when he reveals that he had a thing for Penny and Bernadette but hasn’t even looked at Amy. Of course Amy is hurt, but they share a nice little exchange of uncomfortable commiseration which ends with Raj possibly wanting Amy, and her believing that he does. That should be an interesting plot development, should it be explored in the future.
Meanwhile, back at the dungeon (did you read that in the voice of the guy from Super Friends?) the party manages to find a hurt and helpless Santa, but before they can save him, Sheldon paralyzes Howard and Stuart with a spell so he, Sheldon, could have a little talk with Santa. Turns out that Sheldon’s Poppop had died when he was a child, and he asked Santa to bring him back. Of course Santa couldn’t do that, and Sheldon has held that against him for a long time.
Sheldon’s Poppop was the only one who encouraged him to pursue science, and instead of getting his one source of encouragement back, he got Lincoln Logs. I used to love those things, but Sheldon’s right: “You can build a lot of neat things out of Lincoln Logs, but Poppop ain’t one of them.”
So, Sheldon is able to have his moment with Santa, to actually give voice to his pain and disappointment and to speak of his loss (an excellent use of role-playing games, by the way). Of course Sheldon is able to give Santa a “swift kick in his bowl full of jelly,” too. This is a humorous way of reminding us of something that many people deal with every year, and that is the noticeable absence of loved ones during the holiday season. The holidays can be stressful, fun, chaotic, warm, peaceful, wonderful, and all the rest. But for some of us, there is still an incredible amount of pain when we have lost loved ones. There are no quick and easy methods for dealing with this pain, but I applaud the creators, writers, and actors of The Big Bang Theory for helping us laugh about it just a little bit.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars