The Hofstadter Insufficiency
Seven was advertised with the tantalising promise of intimate secrets and hurt feelings between our favourite pair. All those who ship them or simply value their comic genius were called to arms. This was a definite Shenny-flavored premiere, telling the tale of how Leonard's absence affects the two people with whom he's closest.
They launch right in! A terrified Sheldon awakes from a nightmare in which Leonard is swooped up by a hungry kraken. He rushes across the hall, as he has done countless times before, and it feels just like old times. Except these are not old times and the moment the door opens we get some tremendous acting by Jim Parsons. The little pause, the uncharacteristically choked reaction - his heroine is standing before him in a skimpy pink nightie and there's a subtle deviation from the usual Homo Novus non-response. After explaining his predicament an amused Penny watches as her lanky neighbor, shades of Vegas Renormalization, happily takes her bed.
We quickly learn that she has replaced Leonard as Sheldon's best buddy and they genuinely seem closer. They hang out together and she even allows him to bore her with 3-D chess. We see Penny with her legs flung over the armchair in 4a, looking more at home than ever. Later, Sheldon is "having too much fun" to end their chess game, but Penny is restless and missing Leonard so they decide to call him. Only to discover he is partying and not missing them at all.
This is where things get interesting. Sheldon attempts to make Penny feel better by saying he is sure that Leonard is "tormented every moment he's away from your warm embrace and cherry lips." Romantic words indeed which in true Sheldon style he quickly recants. Then, on Penny's insistence, they share secrets but after admitting she regrets having appeared topless in a low-budget movie, she is not impressed by Sheldon's seemingly lesser reveal. He doesn't tell people the truth when asked about YouTube's new ratings system. He says he's "okay about it" but he's not.
Big deal, right? Penny dismisses this and decides to leave. Except, Sheldon is hurt by her flippancy. Then comes the shocker, he tells her she's hurt his feelings, and Penny, in her ever-benevolent way, apologizes and offers a hug, which he returns with a gentle one-handed pat. Is it just me, or has Sheldon grown decades in just four short months? All of this, away from the critical eye of the public. It's only fitting that Penny, the first non-related female to affect his existence, should be the one to bring this about.
by Informal Protest
gifs – harverysface tumblr