overnights

The Big Bang Theory Recap: You Say Tomato, I Say Poop Tomato

The Big Bang Theory

The Reclusive Potential
Season 11 Episode 20
Editor’s Rating *****
Photo: Sonja Flemming/CBS

What a difference one really great line and some really bad Riverdancing can make. This season of The Big Bang Theory has been pretty by the numbers — the most common number being three, as in lots of three-star rated episodes. But one of the best lines of dialogue in TBBT history and some fine physical comedy from Mayim Bialik elevate this one up a whole star.

First, the line. As part of his continuing string theory research, Sheldon has been corresponding with Dr. Robert Wolcott (guest star Peter MacNicol), a brilliant, but reclusive scientist who lives alone in the woods and communicates via snail mail written in elaborate code. Yep, that’s Sheldon’s kinda guy, and Sheldon’s intellect has impressed Wolcott sufficiently enough to earn Dr. Cooper an invitation to the remote cabin.

Because Amy is set to have her bachelorette party the same weekend, the jaunt to Wolcott’s home basically serves as Sheldon’s bachelor soiree (though he insists it not be referred to as such), especially since Amy demanded Leonard go along to keep Sheldon safe, Bernadette demanded Howard go along to keep Leonard safe, and Bernie added Raj to the lineup, too, because he would have invited himself to the bachelorette party if the fellas had left him behind.

So the guys take a road trip to the woods — with Sheldon’s playlist of science lectures irritating them along the way — where they meet the man who is locked away behind a door with more than a dozen locks, who codes his research notes by writing them backwards and with letters replacing numbers and vice versa, and who has a long-distance marriage with a wife who doesn’t even know what country he lives in.

He does have a nice produce patch, though, as Raj confirms when he bites into an heirloom tomato that he proclaims is tasty enough that he can eat it like an apple.

The secret, according to Dr. Wolcott? He uses his own “manure” to fertilize the nightshade veggie (er, fruit). Leonard and Howard take great delight in the divulging of Dr. Wolcott’s farming tip and in Raj’s reaction to it.

Howard: “The look on your face!”

Leonard: “It’s a sort of grin … you wanna know what kind?”

Gem!

That punchline is also the highlight of the trip, as Sheldon comes to the conclusion that, while Wolcott is clearly a man dedicated to his work above all else — including his marriage and interaction with most other humans — that is a level of dedication that Sheldon no longer desires. He tells his friends he wants to skip the rabbit or squirrel dinner Dr. Wolcott has taken a shotgun into the woods to procure for them. He wants to go home. He misses Amy.

Ah, Amy. While Sheldon spends his waning bachelor days learning some truths about his science hero and himself, she spends one of her last wild bachelorette weekends … sewing.

Amy had told Penny and Bernie she didn’t want a debauchery-filled outing, but she thought they understood that to mean she really did. Though she pretends, at first, to be excited about the tea and quilting party they’ve arranged in Penny’s apartment – complete with dozens of spools of thread, yards of fabrics, and one of those old-timey sewing machines in a cabinet – Amy eventually loses her, well, that stuff Dr. Wolcott uses on his tomatoes, and demands a celebration that involves hooch and the possibility of body shots. Even if she doesn’t know what those are, and is skeeved by the idea when she does learn they involve belly buttons.

The party never gets that far, because Amy does one shot and passes out face first on the bar within 15 minutes. More experienced partiers Bernie and Penny take Amy home (after finishing their next round and some sliders, natch), and when Amy wakes up on the couch, they relay tales of what an amazing night she had, involving shirtless firemen, flashing everyone, and Riverdancing on top of the bar.

Yeah, they’re tall tales, but Amy is happy. The next morning, when Sheldon returns, the hungover one gets to tell her fiancé all about the firemen who fought over her after she displayed her Riverdancing moves on top of the bar.

She even shows Sheldon her fancy footwork, in a dance display that can maybe be called Riverdance-adjacent, but can definitely be called a kin of that “full bodied dry heave set to music” Elaine so memorably revealed on Seinfeld.

At least Sheldon is impressed: “I’m the only man you do that for!”

That’s true love.

THEOR-EMS

• Raj: “If Bruce Banner’s driving a rental car and turns into the Hulk, do you think he’s covered, or does he need to add the Hulk as an additional driver?” Howard: “You really need a girlfriend.”

• The mailman has an envelope for Sheldon, but tells him he cannot hand it directly to him; he must place it in the mailbox. “And that is what separates the U.S. Postal Service from those hippies at FedEx,” an approving Sheldon says.

• Though Amy believes that shirtless firemen were fighting over her, she wants to assure Sheldon nothing further happened. “Penny and Bernadette got me out of there before the victor got my spoils,” she tells him.

The Big Bang Theory Recap: You Say Tomato, I Say Poop Tomato