Martin Carr reviews the eighth episode of Young Sheldon…
Reminiscent of family bonding moments when we were children and warmly nostalgic for reasons difficult to explain, Young Sheldon continues drawing in its audience. Lance Barber carries the emotional weight behind episode eight as issues of paternal relationships are put front and centre. Finding common ground with a radically advanced son is fast becoming the bedrock upon which this dynamic is based. Armitage plays off Barber perfectly who is understanding, caring, capable yet concerned, even though he knows the middle ground they share is limited.
By splitting up the family for contrived plot progression we get to share time with the two brothers and their father for an extended period. What follows is a subtle bonding session and hint at naivety from an older Sheldon in voice over, which adds an unexpected element of pathos. Touchstones which hark back to Big Bang are still present but not leaned on half as much for audience reactions. What we get here is an even split in which Potts and Perry as mother and daughter get to share screen time without our central protagonist. Their relationship is defined by a lacklustre upbringing and relaxed parental controls, which provide a spiky undercurrent to their conversations.
Although these two actresses fail to get adequate screen time their sense of separation is palpable. It also explains why Sheldon is wrapped in cotton wool, afforded every whim and mollycoddled to within an inch of his life. His intellect is merely an excuse for overindulgence and suffocating maternal instincts. Potts and Perry play this perfectly leaving much of the literal emotion as mere subtext, giving us an episode which gives substance as well as nostalgia in equal measure.
For the most part Young Sheldon has traded on the reliance of audiences with a diehard connection to The Big Bang Theory. For seven episodes it has used this in conjunction with solid writing and casting to keep things moving. These are all admirable traits and extremely difficult to achieve within a small timeframe, but this week something else was added. We got to see character development, emotional build up and pay off as well as the familiar elements which have become second nature. Given the success of Young Sheldon up to this point I can only see this addition as positive. By changing locations, splitting up the tried and tested formula then expanding on known quantities, this series proves once again how ahead of the curve it really is.