Recap: The Big Bang Theory S8, E22 The Graduation Transmission

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bb2Howard and Raj are examining a drone Raj has recently purchased. Unfortunately, Raj hasn’t managed to get it to work yet, but he has Howard, an MIT training engineer, as his ace in the hole. While Howard thinks about what he would have done with the drone, which can stream video directly to a phone, Leonard comes in with his suitcase. He and Penny are going on a trip, and while Leonard is all packed, Penny will throw a few last minute things together after she finishes eating. Things like everything she needs. The two of them are hading back to New Jersey where Leonard will be giving the graduation address at his old high school. Sheldon raises the question of blinding by mortarboard which Leonard dismisses. Raj suggests a T-shirt cannon could liven up his speech.

Penny actually does manage to pack quickly,bb4 and surprisingly lightly. She explains that she was able to make it through an entire spring break with a long t-shirt and a belt, the belt to make an evening look. This will be her first trip to New Jersey. Leonard explains that New Jersey gets a bad rap from shows like Real Housewives and Jersey Shore, but when pressed admits that the state is depicted accurately. Penny asks if they’ll be able to visit Leonard’s mother, which they will, but Leonard has no intention of doing so. Before they reach the bottom of the stairs, however, Leonard gets an alert on the phone that their flight is cancelled. Rather than trying to find another flight, Leonard just assumes that all flights to the east coast would be cancelled or booked and they turn around to go back up. At first Leonard refuses Penny’s offer to listen to his speech, but when she offers to role play a cheerleader who loves alumni, he launches bb5into his speech.

Howard and Sheldon are not having any luck fixing Raj’s drone. Howard reads the instructions to Sheldon, who takes issue with the way the instructions are written. As Sheldon toggles the switch ten times, the yellow lights come on, but when Howard rotates the drone, the lights turn red and yellow instead of green, so they have to start over.

Back at his own home, Raj accepts a Skype from his father. After small talk about whether he’s still dating Emily, his father gets to the real reason for the call. The bill he received for a toy helicopter equal to a full month’s rent (similar drones are available much more cheaply). His father informs him that he is having his allowance is going to be cut off to bb7teach him responsibility. This isn’t the first time Raj was cut off (previously when dating the first Emily in “The Wiggly Finger Catalyst”) and Raj suggests that a better way to teach him responsibility is to have him carry an egg around for a week. His father isn’t having any of it, not even when Raj tries to play on his sympathy now that his parents are getting a divorce.

Howard and Sheldon are making headway with the drone, getting the proper color lights to come on, but when they go to the next step, they are back to step one. Howard decides it is time to open the drone up and work on it as an engineer. When Sheldon asks about voiding the warranty, Howard explains that he uses warranties as toilet paper.

Penny is working overtime to cheer Leonard bb11up. Following sex in the evening and pancakes in the morning, she now comes in with a graduation robe and mortarboard. Not just a costume, she explains that she’s arranged for him to give his speech via Skype. Unfortunately, all the costume shop had left was the “Sexy Graduate” robes, so they aren’t exactly regulation length, which won’t be a problem because Nobody will see Leonard below the waist during the Skype.

Howard has completely disassembled the drone and tries to convince Sheldon that he knows what everything does, while making it clear he is clueless, and he keeps repeating his mantra “I am an MIT trained engineer.” When he brings up building components for the space station, Sheldon helpfully reminds Howard that the space toilet didn’t work. Howard is testy about it, pointing out that it just bb8wasn’t designed to the cosmonauts diet specifications. Raj enters to announce that he needs to return the drone, only to see it spread out across the kitchen island.

Raj freaks out since he needs to return it, but Sheldon points out that the warranty has been voided. Howard tries to calm Raj down and Raj realizes what he needs to do. Having failed to play on his father’s sympathy, he calls his mother. Raj tells her that his father has cut him off due to his “active social life.” His mother falls for Raj’s hints that the reason he has been cut off is that his father is seeing someone. Within moments, his mother offers to give him a larger allowance than he had been getting from his father.

Across the hall, a berobed, albeit short robed, Leonard comes into the living room to give his bb13speech. Penny points out that he’s supposed to wear clothes under the robe. She tells him that if he adds a belt, she’ll take him someplace nice, so he takes the stole that came with the robe and wraps it around his waist.

Howard has begun putting the drone back and thinks he knows what the problem is, impressing the hard to impress Sheldon. Rather than denigrating Howard’s engineering skills, Sheldon asks if he can fix a model train when he finishes with the drone. The train no longer makes smoke. Howard puts him off and Bernadettes shows up with a tool for Howard to use. While Raj is ready to chuck the broken helicopter and buy a new one now that his mother is covering his bills, Howard puts him off since solving engineering problems is who he is and what bb14he’s trained to do. Bernadette makes the ultimate heretical suggestion: that they call tech support. Howard explains that they will never call tech support.

Back in New Jersey at Mercer Prep School, Leonard is introduced and shows up on a large screen via Skype. He begins his speech with a joke about being bullied and then thanked Penny and turns the camera to show her. A surprised Penny tells to the stay away from drugs and remain in school, although Leonard points out they are graduating.

And Howard has reassembled the drone. The drone is ready to go and when Sheldon turns it on, a puff of smoke appears, indicating it is either Sheldon’s train or a new pope has been elected. Ever helpful, Bernadette brings over the manual to give Howard the tech bb15support number. Howard is resigned to talking to some foreign guy who will be reading the same instructions he has. In one of the best gags of the season, as he finishes dialing the phone, Raj’s phone begins to ring. Of course, it isn’t Howard calling him, but rather his father, who has heard what Raj has done to his mother. Raj shrugs off his father’s concerns and tells his father that he takes after him, which is apparently enough to get his allowance reinstated.

Leonard is quoting L. Frank Baum and realizes how boring and clichéd his speech is. He notes that he can’t see their faces, but assumes they look like Penny’s, who is falling asleep next to him. He goes off script and begins talking from the heart about how much he hated high school. He admits it might be great for people who look like Penny, but he bb16had all sorts of insecurities and was picked on. He explains that the people who are weird and strange and don’t fit in during high school and merely learning how to be interesting when they are adults and the “in” crowd is probably peaking in high school. He ends to applause and, of course, being a continent away, doesn’t have to worry about mortarboard induced blindness.

Howard is still on hold and they are listening to Chuck Mangione on hold. Howard is concerned that he is growing older and losing his edge. Suddenly the drone takes off when he fiddles with a dial. Bernadette asks if they should be flying it inside and Howard admits that he doesn’t have any control over the drone, suspecting it is picking up some sort of stray wifi signal. As Raj, Howard, Sheldon, and Bernadette cower under the drone, bb17tech support finally comes on the phone.

After Leonard’s speech, Leonard and Penny are returning to Leonard’s apartment when Sheldon throws the door open to allow the drone to get out of the room. As Penny and Leonard drop to the floor, Sheldon assures them everyone is okay.

While Howard’s attempts to repair the drone demonstrate the surface level of geekery which The Big Bang Theory often subscribes to, the ultimate message of Leonard’s speech is really the heart and soul of the show. The Big Bang Theory really isn’t about the bb1comics and the pop culture that the four men revel in, or the idea that the nerd in us all will wind up with the Penny or Bernadette equivalent, but rather the idea that the things that set us apart from other people, whether it is the interest in comics, or computer hacking, or playing the cello, or an interest in science, or, really, anything, are the things that make us interesting and worth knowing. It isn’t about “fitting in,” but rather about learning who you are and bringing your own special interests to the table.

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