Big Bang Theory: The Spoil Alert Segmentations

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by Kevin Rigdon (@pralix1138)


The folks over at The Big Bang Theory would like to offer a little public service announcement about a terrible phenomenon that affects us all deeply: the spoiler. In the newest episode, “The Spoil Alert Segmentations,” Leonard has finally gotten around to reading the Harry Potter series, and Sheldon, somewhat innocently it seems to me, reveals that Dumbledore dies in The Half-blood Prince. Of course, this is the painful phenomenon known as the spoiler. This heinous activity on the part of Sheldon Lee Cooper is so destructive to Leonard’s psyche that he throws one of his now-famous hissy fits (well, according to Sheldon, at any rate, and I must say that I tend to believe that Leonard is a superstar in the art of hissy fits).

But the idea of the spoiler brings us into the main theme of the show. Spoilers, even innocent ones, introduce us to a part of the story that we aren’t prepared for. A narrative follows its own organic course, and while we are reading it, or watching it, we move along at that pace without skipping ahead. (You know, as I’m writing this, River Song keeps popping in my head, saying “Spoilers,” in that delightfully mischievous voice of hers). If we discover something like a major plot point out of sequence, the spell the narrative has woven is shattered. This can actually be quite disturbing to us, and we are rightly troubled by it.

Leonard, by his ensuing hissy fit in reaction to Sheldon’s revelation about Dumbledore, actually introduces a spoiler of his own to Penny. He and Penny have been going along at their own organic pace. It’s a pace they both seem comfortable with, but that is shattered when Leonard decides to move in with Penny. He doesn’t give her a choice, not really. He presents a logical argument about why he should move in, and because she can’t refute it on the same level, things get a tad bit uncomfortable. But the narrative has its own internal logic, and has to follow that course, and relationships, good people, are rarely objectively logical, and don’t seem to function well when subjected to external, objective logic. Here, it is the same.

Simply because Penny can’t come up with an empirical reason as to why they shouldn’t move in together doesn’t mean they should start buying his and hers towels. She isn’t ready. They are not at the point in their own story together that moving in feels organic. It is a spoiler, if you will. For Leonard to suggest moving in introduces a plot twist out of sequence, and it isn’t easy to cope with. But Leonard isn’t alone in his ironic fugue. Sheldon, the progenitor of the original spoiler has been thrown a spoiler as well, but I daresay he is much less able to cope with it than is Penny.

As a result of Leonard’s proposed move into Penny’s apartment, Amy takes the opportunity to introduce herself into Sheldon’s apartment. She sees it as a logical conclusion to Sheldon’s problems with finding a new roommate, and her logic is unassailable. This is particularly disturbing to Sheldon as the resident Vulcan. But, like Penny, he isn’t ready. It’s not part of his and Amy’s narrative, which is moving at a much slower pace than Leonard and Penny’s.

After the initial reaction to the spoilers introduced by Leonard and Amy, Sheldon and Penny are able to come to the place where they are able to tell their respective significant others that they’re just not ready. Of course, Sheldon blames everything on Penny, saving himself embarrassment and blame before folding. He and Penny are finally able to tell Leonard and Amy how they feel, and the world is set right-at least for now.

I liked the episode. I applaud the writers for using spoilers in Harry Potter to introduce the concept that we are, as Tolkien would say, “mythic” creatures. Our lives are our own narratives, and they move at an organic pace, and we need them to follow that pace. In other words, no spoilers.

Rating 4 out of 5 stars


    One Comment

  1. mrjroc83February 8th, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    I think Sheldon would had made a phenomenally great Observer in Fringe!

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