I think this Sheldon quote basically sums up the episode’s B-story:
“Apparently, there is no law of diminishing comic returns with space poop.”
And indeed, this episode managed to sustain an entire story based on jokes about the malfunctioning Wallowitz Zero Gravity Human Waste Displacement System a.k.a. the space toilet Wallowitz invented. This is what the boys spend their time working on while Stuart takes Penny out on a second date, after soliciting advice from Leonard. Wallowitz advises that Leonard preserve his friendship with both parties by advising Stuart to do everything Leonard did, thus preventing him from hooking up with Penny but still maintaining a friendship. After awhile, Leonard starts to feel badly for sabotaging Stuart’s date with Penny and apologize for giving both parties bad advice (Penny asked him for some info on Stuart, as well), but Penny is loathe to discuss her date with Leonard at all, which makes him think Stuart did something unconscionable at his behest. So he heads to the comic book store, where he finds out that Stuart actually followed his advice to the T, which lead to Stuart and Penny making out . . . only to have Penny utter Leonard’s name whilst she and Stuart were getting hot and heavy, thus putting an awkward kibosh on any further Penny-Stuart contact. This, clearly, pleases Leonard a great deal.
So here’s my issue with that: I like Stuart, and I honestly think that his interest in non-comic art grounds him more to the real world and to the struggling artist’s world in which Penny lives. They’re still opposites, but with some commonality that would allow a relationship to function. I guess he’s not quite as cute as Johnny Galecki is, but when it comes down to it, neither of these guys are guys Penny would normally date, so comparing their physical attractiveness is a moot point. Her affection for Leonard surfacing while kissing Stuart only works in the sense that I believe she does have feelings for Leonard, in a besty-best-friends kind of way, which sometimes might be misinterpreted as meaning something else. When it comes down to it, though, I just don’t believe that Leonard and Penny would work. In fact, they both already know it won’t. And it’s because they lack any commonality other than eating takeout together with three people nerdier than they are. But I guess I have to suspend my disbelief as Leonard’s crush on Penny is essentially the impetus for her involvement with them in the first place and so many plots function because of his slight jealousy that she might love someone other than him. I know that the series will end, likely, with the two of them together, so why rush other romantic partners out of the picture so soon, when the series is not going anywhere for at least another season? Stephanie all but disappeared, doomed to wandering the physics lab with Barry Kripke and other forgotten characters. Must we banish Stuart to that cold, linoleum hell, too? I like Stuart. Please don’t let this be his end.
Raj for the win:
If you really want to clean up your karma, go get my frickin’ latte.