(Editor’s note: due to technical issues, this episode of the Big Bang Theory Recap will be appearing without images. We will return to our regular formatting next week.)
Howard and Raj sit down at the lunch table arguing over the proper pronunciation of the term “GIF.” Both Howard and Leonard, when he is dragged into it, prefer the hard g sound (since the g stands for Graphic), but Raj insists it should be a soft g since that is the way Steve Wilhite, who invented the file compression, states that it should be pronounced. Sheldon joins them and gives them three guesses as to why he is irritated, and an already annoyed Howard isn’t ready to play Sheldon’s game and suggests that it is because the universe chose not to conform to Sheldon’s point of view. Although that isn’t the precise answer Sheldon had in mind, he does allow that it is correct and reveals that it is because there is a meeting of top scientific minds at Richard Feynman former home and he wasn’t included. When Leonard suggests that he is an elite scientist, but Howard offers that he is also a pain in the ass, Sheldon takes it as an attempt to make him feel better. Leonard notes that Sheldon will probably spend the rest of the day being bitter about it. Sheldon’s snubbing will drive his storyline in this episode, and although the specifics are certainly nerdy, it is really more just a matter of Sheldon being left out of the group and responding as a petulant child.
At the Wolowitz household, Raj is giving nine boxes of Girl Scout cookies to Howard and Bernadette, pointing out that as an Indian, he can’t walk past a begging child. An attorney had found Howard’s father and arranged to have him sign over the title to the house to Howard, who has no idea about his whereabouts, which Howard is fine with, although in previous episodes he has indicated the desire to meet his father. On the other hand, Raj begins speculating on his location, ranging from prison to portraying Ringo Starr in a Beatles cover band.
Penny, meanwhile, has agreed to join Wil Wheaton for his podcast, and, based on Leonard’s description, the first non-Star Trek person to be on the podcast. When Penny tells Wil that she knew they were all Star Trek people, he responds with a smile that he deserved that comment since he both invited her onto his show and drove to her apartment. The two of them are going to discuss their work from the seventh season on the film “The Serial Apist 2: Monkey See, Monkey Kill,” With Wil carefully warning that the title is a spoiler. They fail to mention that neither of them completed the film, and Penny learns for the first time that it actually has a cult following. She’s also surprised to hear how many people listen to Wil talk about “nerd stuff.” Wil points out that he can hear what she says and it does hurt.
Across the hall in the boys’ apartment, it is date night for Amy and a moping Sheldon. Amy points out that date night is supposed to be a pout-free and moodiness-free night and, although it was meant to apply specifically to “uterus stuff,” it also applies to Sheldon. Sheldon is prepared and pulls out a photo of him smiling that he can hold in front of his face to use as a work-around.
Back at Howard’s house, Bernadette and Raj are talking about how they plan to re-decorate, including knocking out a wall and putting in an indoor fire pit. Howard apparently doesn’t really like change any more than Sheldon does and complains about their plans when the doorbell rings. Howard goes to answer it and finds a young man who is looking for him. He explains that his father was recently contacted about signing over the rights to the house. A surprised Howard realizes he’s facing the half-brother he never knew he had. Howard calls for Bernadette because weird things are happening.
The podcast has begun with Penny explaining she knew it would be a bad movie when she first saw the title. Leonard offers Wil a note, which he reads out loud, offering him a Diet Coke or juice. Wil invites Leonard to join them on the podcast and they take a call from one of the movie’s fans who has seen it ten times. Penny apologizes only for the first time, but not the subsequent viewings. Wil explains that he has seen cosplayers dressed as Penny’s character and a giant banana, which Leonard suggests might actually have been Howard and Raj. The next caller is Kevin Smith, the director of Clerks. Smith has seen the film and really liked Penny’s acting and tells her he would love to cast her in things, perhaps his new film, Clerks 3. When Leonard realizes she’s going to audition, he points out that she has a new job already, which leads to the beginning of an argument and Leonard telling Kevin Smith (the director of Clerks) to keep out of it.
Sheldon and Amy discuss whether you ever stop feeling sad about being left out of group activities. Amy points out that the desire for inclusion is an evolutionary imperative. Sheldon used to be a fan of evolution, but with this new idea, he has evolved beyond that. Amy was so alone as a child that she was the only one who didn’t get lice. Not being invited reminds him of his siblings building blanket forts in the living room without him and Amy suggests that they could do that. Sheldon, who has spent the episode in a childish mope, suggests that building a fort is childish, but eventually decides to do it.
Howard leaves the room to get more coffee and Bernadette asks Josh, Howard’s brother, what he does. He’s studying oceanography in San Diego to which Bernadette announces her love of Finding Nemo. Raj is suspicious and trying to figure out why Josh is there until Bernadette throws him out of the room. He feels something is fishy, and not just because of his job around fish, which Raj would like to learn more about. When Raj joins Howard in the kitchen, Howard is upset about the discovery of a new brother. Howard just wants him to disappear. The two return to the living room to find that Josh has found the picture of Howard in his astronaut uniform and is excited. Suddenly, having a younger brother who looks up to him isn’t so bad.
Leonard insists they aren’t fighting, so Wil agrees that they are merely having an interesting conversation with Leonard insisting that women shouldn’t have dreams. Allowing the old “Evil Wil Wheaton” to come out causes Leonard to take away the bottle of juice he had given Wil. Penny points out that if she gets the role, she could have the career she always dreamed of. Leonard scoffs that such a thing could happen from a Kevin Smith movie, insulting Smith to the point that he declares he’s hanging up. When Wil tries to cajole Kevin into staying, Smith informs him there’s no role for him in the film and Wil disconnects him. Meanwhile, Penny lets it slip that she makes twice as much as Leonard does, which Wil immediately recaps to the listening audience. Penny offers to pay off his loans and Leonard asks Wil to turn off the podcast, but Wil shakes his head no. Penny’s offer to pay off the loans is an interesting reversal of last season’s “The Friendship Turbulence” when Leonard bought Penny a used car after her car died (because she never followed the advice of the check engine light).
The blanket fort is pretty much finished with lights hung inside. Sheldon invites Amy in. Amy forces Sheldon to sit on the floor, which he views as roughing it. When he moves down, he is surprised by how big everything looks from the new point of view, wondering if he is seeing things the way Leonard does.
Howard is demonstrating his magic to his brother, who has to leave and Bernadette points out how many people leave when Howard does magic, but Josh explains he has a long drive. They leave with the desire to see each other again. Josh always wanted a brother to play catch with, to which Bernadette explains he should keep dreaming. Howard counters that he threw out a pitch at an Angels game (in this season’s “The First Pitch Insufficiency”), although he did it with a robot, the phrasing of which makes Josh think Howard had sex with a robot, which, of course he did, well, a robotic hand in “The Robotic Manipulation” in Season four. Josh’s reaction makes Howard realize that they really are brothers.
Back at the podcast, Leonard and Penny are arguing about her job and money and Leonard realizes that he doesn’t know as much about money management as Penny does. Wil takes great glee in the argument, similar to his reaction in The Wheaton Recurrence at the end of season 1, where he caused Penny and Leonard to break up at the bowling alley. Leonard asks Wil to turn off the podcast, which he does for a moment. Leonard complains that Penny is not only better with money, but also more mature. She asks if he wants her to do something immature, like play hooky from work and audition for Kevin Smith. Leonard thinks that would be a great idea and Wil points out how much Penny has played him.
In the tent, Sheldon has created a fort bracket in their fort, with the final four being Fort Knox, Fort Ticonderoga, Fort Sumter, and Fort Cozy McBlanket, which will be the obvious winner since it has a secret physics lending library. When an alarm rings on Amy’s phone she declares date night over and begins to leave. Sheldon invites her to stay late and Amy suggests their first sleepover. Sheldon offers a G-rated sleepover and Amy argues for PG. When he offers her pyjamas or a toothbrush, she reaches under a seat cushion and pulls out a bag with sleepover supplies.
When Leonard comes back across the hallway, Sheldon and Amy suggest that Leonard ask to come into the fort so they can refuse him as Missy and George. When he asks if he can enter, Sheldon relents and invites him in since the fort is so glorious. Leonard joins them on the floor, but accidentally tries to sit in Sheldon’s spot.
The episode made reference to Geek culture, but not in any intrinsic way. On the other hand, there were plenty of call backs to earlier episodes, dating back to the first season, enough to please any long-time fan of the series. Even better, they were done organically so it didn’t feel like the writers were checking off boxes.