THE BIG BANG THEORY RECAP: Season 8, Episode 15, The Comic Store Regeneration

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bb1The episode opens with Sheldon and Amy eating lunch, but rather than eating in the cafeteria, they are eating in one of the university’s labs. Their private lunch indicates an advancement in their relationship and Sheldon’s growth as a human being since he is clearly not locked into his schedule of where, when, what, and with whom he eats if he is willing to skip lunch with Raj, Leonard, and Howard in order to eat with Amy (and a salad, too!). During their meal, Sheldon’s also expounds on his theory of humor, that a good joke must not only be entertaining, but also informative. Amy’s reaction to the joke amounts to little fawning over her boyfriend. Their private moment is disrupted by Barry Kripke arriving to thank Amy for some assistance on his research into string theory. Learning that she helped his rival in a field where Sheldon once worked leads him to believe he has been betrayed by Amy. Surprisingly, both websites Sheldon mentions appear to be empty. Amy explains to Sheldon that she didn’t help him with string theory because whenever she tried, he belittled her knowledge of mathematics.

bb4Returning to the show after the opening, Howard is on the phone with his mother, who is in Florida. Bernadette asks how she’s doing and Howard explains that Florida is the land of his mother’s people, those who are always sweaty. His mother wants them to check in on the house and make sure Stuart isn’t lonely, not the best thing to ask Howard, who has been suffering from the idea of having a rival for his mother’s attention. His jealousy of Stuart’s new relationship with his mother also blinds Howard to the life he does have, such as a wife, and he doesn’t realize (and probably can’t) that he deserted his mother when he got married and moved out. In any event, with Stuart about to reopen the store, Howard hopes that his relationship with his mother will get back to normal, a definition Bernadette questions. During the scene, Simon Helberg exhibits a sadness, perhaps due to the death last year of Carol Ann Susi.

Down in the laundry room, Penny walks in on Sheldon taking out his anger at Amy’s aid to Kripke on his laundry (and you’ve got to love the sign on the back wall of the laundry room). Penny suggests that Sheldon really needs to let his anger go. Sheldon refuses the advice, complaining that throughout his entire life people have told him to let things that matter to him go, astutely pointing out that by doing so they are belittling his concerns. This is familiar territory for Sheldon and Penny as Sheldon opened up to Penny in the season 7 premiere (“The Hofstadter Insufficiency”) and Penny laughed, belittling what was important to him. He also doesn’t like Penny’s advice to talk to Amy, either.

bb7Leonard and Raj, meanwhile, are helping Stuart get the store ready for its re-opening, ribbing Stuart about having burned down the store for the insurance money, a joke which Stuart adamantly denies any truth to. Bernadette and Howard stop by and Stuart apologizes for moving in with Howard’s mother, which Howard appreciates until he realizes that his mother gave Stuart her furniture, which now forms a reading area in the store. Howard not only feels possessive of the store since his mother’s money paid for Stuart to be able to re-open, but also has all of his worries about being replaced by Stuart exposed. When Stuart makes a comment about some art Howard made as a child, Howard brings up Stuart’s art school education and how it only led to him running a failed comic book store. Rather than allow Bernadette to escort him from the store, Howard declares he’s staying, leaving Raj and Leonard to leave the uncomfortable situation.

bb11In Penny’s apartment, she’s folding her laundry while Sheldon rants about Amy and Barry Kripke until he can’t take Penny’s crazy method of folding her clothes. When Penny realizes that she can get Sheldon to fold her laundry by exaggerating her technique, she quickly finds him doing the task, although it seems a little out of character for Penny to allow Sheldon to touch her clothes, even if it means she can be lazy. Sheldon asks Penny to teach him how to let something go. Penny tells him he should just think about something else, which leads Sheldon to the realization that the spiny anteater never worked with Barry behind Sheldon’s back. Penny tries to get Sheldon to use visualization, but she fails to take into account Sheldon’s literal mindedness. Sheldon tells Penny that Amy has been secretly giving Penny puzzles to compare Penny to the monkeys in her lab. A flashback sequence makes Penny realize that Amy has been playing her and Sheldon suggests that she simply let it go.

bb10Following the commercial break, Penny still hasn’t let this news go. Sheldon over explains and Penny realizes that Sheldon was responsible for the experiment. He suggests she use the visualization technique she had tried on him.

Howard can’t let his mother’s “betrayal” go either and is moping in his mother’s furniture in Stuart’s store. Bernadette tries to talk him down, but Howard isn’t looking for logic, but rather blind support.

bb13Leonard and Raj have escaped the uncomfortable situation to go pick up a deli platter down the street. While waiting for it, Raj spots someone eating a sandwich who looks like Nathan Fillion. Raj bonds with Fillion since they both, apparently, pick their tomatoes out of his salad. Raj decides they should ask him to do a signing at the comic book store. Leonard is concerned that if Fillion is a jerk it would ruin his enjoyment of watching anything Fillion is in, but Raj points out that Kit Harington was a jerk (in an untelevised incident), but they still watch Game of Thrones. He neglects to mention that Harington was a jerk because Raj had just rear-ended his car because he was distracted. When Raj talks to the diner, he denies being an actor, claiming Raj has mistaken him for Fillion.

Penny hears Amy knock on Sheldon’s door and comes out of her apartment, confronting Amy about the tests. Sheldon opens and quickly closes the door when he realizes what’s going on, claiming he can’t come out because he’s naked. Penny orders him to open the door and he does, with his pants now down. Amy points out that the university will pay for the experiments.

bb16With food in hand, Leonard apologizes to the diner who now admits to being Nathan Fillion. Seeing him eating alone, Raj now doesn’t believe Fillion is telling the truth. Fillion offers to have them take a selfie with him. To prove he’s Fillion, Raj has him recite a line from Firefly to prove his identity. As soon as Fillion does, Raj realizes the fallacy of the test since he isn’t Nathan Fillion and he also knows the line. They eventually take the picture with an annoyed looking Nathan Fillion.

bb8In the comic store, Penny is sharing her discovery with Leonard, who was also being tested by Sheldon, and apparently did not do as well as Penny. Amy and Sheldon walk in and are attacked by Penny and Leonard. Howard and Bernadette come in and Sheldon hears Bernadette tell Howard to let it go. Sheldon tries to use Penny’s visualization technique on Howard, but is interrupted when Howard’s phone rings. Tensions between the characters continue to rise, not only between Amy and Penny, but when Bernadette points out that Stuart could have warned Howard and then learns that Raj was aware of the furniture as well.

bb17And then Howard drops the bomb shell. His aunt called from Florida with the news that his mother died. The groups bands together, sitting around Mrs. Wolowitz’s furniture at a loss for words until Sheldon offers up wisdom. However, completely outside his normal self-centeredness, Sheldon is able to help, because like Howard, he is the only other member of the group who has lost a parent. His comment that Sheldon has friends to help him through it, while he didn’t is all the more moving coming from a character who is usually socially inept.

bb18And the final scene has Everyone except Howard and Bernadette sitting around the apartment reminiscing about Mrs. Wolowitz, with Stuart pointing out that without her, he would have been homeless. When Amy claims one of them would have taken him in, he notes that there weren’t any offers. They talk about how special Mrs. Wolowitz was, and there is a very strong undercurrent of the actors talking about Carol Ann Susi. There are subdued jokes, very similar to those following a real death. The show ends with a toast to Mrs. Wolowitz, and Carol Ann Susi.

(Editor’s note:  a few additional shots of Nathan Fillion and Stewart’s comic book store layout)

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