After almost a month in hiatus, The Big Bang Theory will return with a brand new episode this week which will mark the beginning of the end for the long-running sitcom. Following the surprising decision by CBS to end the popular show after 12 seasons, fans have been religiously tuning in week-after-week to watch their favorite gang on its final 24 episodes. Now, there are just 14 half-hours left.
The last viewers saw the nerdy group, the multi-episode arc revolving around Sheldon (Jim Parsons) and Amy's (Mayim Bialik) troubled academic paper on Super Asymmetry was on the brink of getting resolved after the former gets an unexpected pep talk from his dead father, George Cooper Sr. (Lance Barber). Serving as its fall finale, the outing was also the first time for The Big Bang Theory and its prequel spin-off, Young Sheldon to do a crossover. It aired early December and since then, CBS has been rolling out re-runs giving audiences the opportunity to catch up on what they might have missed. The show's next episode, however, will be the beginning of The Big Bang Theory's journey to its series finale sometime in the Spring.
"The Paintball Scattering" will be bringing all key players of The Big Bang Theory together for a game of paintball, as the title implies. Organized by Penny (Kaley Cuoco) and Leonard (Johnny Galecki), the game will include Sheldon and Amy, Howard (Simon Helberg) and Bernadette (Melissa Rauch), Raj (Kunal Nayyar) and Anu (Rati Gupta), and even Stuart (Kevin Sussman) and Denise (Lauren Lapkus). Crucially, this will be the first time this season that the gang is coming together for a fun-filled activity; much of the previous outings this year was focused on individual arcs - particularly in exploring the Coopers' new life as a married couple.
While the episode will still shine a light on how the Super Asymmetry paper is coming along after Amy and Sheldon went back to work and continue it, it doesn't seem like the couple will be hogging much of the screen time as the focal point will be on The Big Bang Theory gang as a whole. It's also nice to learn that other couples - those at the most crucial times in their relationships - like Raj and Anu, as well as Stuart and Denise get some spotlight. Safe to say that, however the upcoming outing pans out for both pairs, it will be a barometer to how their respective relationships will be handled moving forward.
So far, it hasn't felt like The Big Bang Theory has really been building to any sort of ending, with most episodes seemingly nothing more than filler. The Super Asymmetry narrative that began last season appears to be continuing, with a brand new development set to hinder the recognition that Sheldon so badly wants for the research. However, it's also no secret that a chunk of the fan community isn't happy that focus has been largely on Sheldon when there's still a lot to resolve with regard to other characters - particularly the Hofstadters' conflict on the idea of having children (Penny doesn't want to have kids, while Leonard does).
By having a more inclusive outing, The Big Bang Theory looks to moving things in the right direction. It's important to note that writers have already started working on the current season before learning that it would be the last; that it's the end was announced barely a month before season 12 debuted. This explains why the first couple of episodes weren't holistic and were geared more towards certain members of the group. Now, though, the writers are fully aware of the show's limited time and know they need to build a satisfying way to end the sitcom. Given this, fans can expect more balanced episodes, not to mention some special guests coming in for one last time to wrap up The Big Bang Theory gang's more than a decade-full of adventures in Pasadena.
The Big Bang Theory and Young Sheldon air Thursday nights on CBS.