The Big Bang Theory Recap: Emotions in Motion

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While being interviewed for a documentary about Spock from Star Trek, Sheldon (Jim Parsons, right) struggles to suppress his emotions about his recent breakup with Amy. Also pictured, left to right: Adam Nimoy and Wil Wheaton. Photo: Michael Yarish/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc
The Big Bang Theory
Episode Title
The Spock Resonance
Season
9
Episode
7
Editor’s Rating
4/5

Oh, Big Bang Theory fans, our little science nerds are growing up, and as delayed as that has been in some cases, it’s still proving to be a rather painful process. The subject of personal growth has been an ongoing one throughout the series, and particularly as of late, with talk of marriage, engagements, and now, babies, taking precedence over video-game night and Star Trek dissections. Happily, sometimes growing up and Sheldon and Company’s pop-culture obsessions overlap, as they do in “The Spock Resonance.”

In a quirky, cool guest-star story line, Adam Nimoy, filmmaker and son of the late Leonard Nimoy, is making a documentary about his dad’s career and his iconic Star Trek character, Mr. Spock (a real-life project, For the Love of Spock, is currently in production after securing funding via one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns ever). Adam is looking for Spock fans to interview for the project, and his friend Wil Wheaton suggests Sheldon as a candidate.

The prospect of participating in an homage to his hero, whose Spockian dedication to logic over emotions has been Sheldon’s lifelong creed and the way he survived a childhood in which he was at odds with nearly everyone around him, delights Sheldon. He even leaves ex-girlfriend Amy a voice-mail message about his interview.

Which, it turns out, isn’t a big surprise, because Sheldon has Amy on his mind. Even with this opportunity to hold forth on one of his favorite topics — actually, two of his favorite topics, Spock and himself — everything seems to focus back on his recent breakup with Amy Farrah Fowler, especially after he retrieves his prized Leonard Nimoy–autographed Cheesecake Factory napkin from the wall safe, which also reveals to Penny and Leonard (and the filming Adam Nimoy and Wil Wheaton) his Meemaw’s ring, the one he planned to use to propose to Amy.

The ring and its intended recipient make for a bombshell bit of news to Penny and Leonard (and, again, to the filmmaker who’s documenting Sheldon’s impending meltdown on camera), who didn’t know Sheldon had planned to propose and weren’t aware just what a toll the Shamy breakup is continuing to take on him. Try as he might to emulate Spock’s anti-emotions philosophy, Sheldon gives himself away.

When Penny points out that his Spock aspirations have failed, that he does have emotions just like everyone else, Sheldon loses his shit. “Not true. Look at me,” he says to Adam Nimoy’s still-rolling camera. “I had an engagement ring to give a girl, and instead, she rejected me. And am I emotional about that? No. No, I am sitting here on a couch, talking about my favorite TV character like nothing happened. Because I am just like him, all logical, all the time!”

Penny: “Sweetie, you’re yelling.”

“Because when I speak in a regular volume, no one seems to believe me that I’ve put this Amy nonsense behind me!” Sheldon yells before stomping off to his room.

After thinking about the state of his relationship with Amy and being forced to recognize, or admit to himself, that he is an emotional guy, Sheldon grabs Meemaw’s ring and heads off to Amy’s apartment to propose. But once again the proposal plan is abandoned, this time because he spots Amy outside her building, on the receiving end of what appears to be a date-ending good-night kiss. 

Third time’s the charm?

And about that baby talk — or, rather, talk of babies. Bernadette approaches Howard with a request for some makeovers on their house, i.e., Howie’s childhood home, the one that’s still covered in flowered wallpaper, old carpeting, and numerous other reminders of Mrs. Wolowitz. Bernie initially tries to be sensitive to the fact that Howard misses his mom and has emotional attachments to the house and its décor, but a woman can live in a chintz palace only so long. “I’m changing everything that depresses me when I look at it,” she tells Howard. “Try not to be one of those things.”

Howard continues to try to use the fact that his father abandoned him and his mom in the house and that Mrs. W.’s gone to slow the roll of the renovations, but Bernie has also grown tired of his unwillingness to grow up, and he soon finds out just how frustrated she is. When her dad volunteers to help with the home improvements, he and Howard crawl under the house to check out some wall structures. While there, Mr. Rostenkowski points out the den could easily be remodeled into a nursery, making it a shame that Howard doesn’t want children.

That’s news to Howard, who shares that he very much wants to have kids with Bernie. His wife lied to her father about Howard not wanting children, and the reason is an eye-opener for the tight-pantsed one. Like Bernadette’s father, Howard also doesn’t help out in the running of the household, and Bernadette is concerned Howard also wouldn’t make a lot of effort in the raising of a child. Or, as Raj so buttinsky-ingly puts it, “Your father didn’t help out around the house, and Howard doesn’t help out either, so in a way, Howard’s not only like your father, but he’s also like the child you’re afraid to have.”

Howard admits his slacker status at casa Wolowitz but assures his wife it’d be different with a child. When his own dad left, he says, he made a vow to always be there for his kids. Bernadette agrees to really consider having a baby, and not in the same way she considered his proposal to buy a motorcycle with a sidecar.

The rundown of the episode’s major events make it sound less funny than it was overall, but then again, any truly good TV comedy includes some more serious, heartfelt moments. And “The Spock Resonance” seems certain to bear out as a pivotal episode for at least four of the show’s characters.

THEOR-EMS:

  • You know the rule of Chekhov’s gun. So, though it may take a few more episodes, or maybe even the rest of the season, is there any way Penny and Leonard keep the knowledge of Sheldon’s engagement plans and his heartbreak about Amy a secret? And might their knowledge of Sheldon’s intentions even factor in the inevitable reconciliation of Shamy?
  • Sheldon’s excitement upon being introduced to Adam Nimoy: “It’s not every day I get to meet someone whose life’s journey began in my hero’s scrotum.”
  • Spock’s appeal to a young Sheldon: “The same thing that appeals to people everywhere: the dream of a cold, rational world entirely without human emotion.”
  • Also in Sheldon’s locked box from the wall safe: his passport, his will and his Wil, a 1/18th-scale Wil Wheaton action figure. In his will, he wills his Wil back to Wil.
    “Will Wil want it?” Leonard asks.
    “Wil won’t,” Wil answers.
  • Sheldon also installed a floor safe because he caught Penny eating his Pop-Tarts three years ago. “I knew I could smell 'em,” she says upon learning of his toaster pastry treasures.
  • Howard’s assurance to his father-in-law that he wants children: “I’m climbing on top of [Bernadette] every chance I get!”
  • Sheldon, post-proposal abandonment No. 2, after watching a Star Trek video in which Spock talks about being totes logical: “Yeah, right! You can just shut your feelings off … there goes television, lying to us again. We let you raise our children, and this is the thanks we get.”
  • Leonard suggests to him that now it’s best to focus on the real people in his life instead of looking to TV characters for guidance. “Those are very wise words,” he tells his roommate. “They’d just be so much more comforting if they came out of television.” Preach, Sheldon.
  • Question: Since Adam Nimoy’s documentary will focus on the enduring love for and influence of his father and the Spock character — which is seen no more clearly and often than on The Big Bang Theory — will any of the footage of his appearance on TBBT be included in For the Love of Spock? Wouldn’t that be a delicious little slice of meta pop culture?