The Big Bang Theory Recap: S9:E8 The Mystery Date Observation

For want of pastry chefs and children

The episode opens up with a recap of the previous week’s episode, ending with Sheldon walking off after seeing Amy kiss her date. The new episode begins with Leonard and making breakfast for Sheldon in their apartment, French Toast for comfort and oatmeal because it is an oatmeal day, or gloatmeal day, since he anticipated the complaint. Penny and Leonard are surprised, therefore, when a cheerful Sheldon appears, explaining that he’s going to find a new female companion, because instead of being miserable and not being productive, he could ignore a new girlfriend and be much more productive. Sheldon suggests that Leonard should eat the oatmeal and French toast since it is high in carbohydrates since Leonard is married and his appearance no longer matters, although Penny disagrees about the last point.

Sheldon acknowledges that Raj and Howard found Amy for him (season 3, episode 23 “The Lunar Excitation), so he called them to ask them to look again. Sheldon, ever the romantic, compares his relationship to Amy to a stick of Fruit Stripe gum, sweet and enjoyable, but ultimately a flavorless lump of sadness. Raj mentions that he preferred Hubba Bubba and Howard thinks that Double Bubble was the bubble gum of choice. Unfortunately, they drop the discussion before an argument could occur. Sheldon’s description of the perfect woman is exactly what one would expect from the self-absorbed character with a healthy dose of misogyny included, and he wants her to fall in love with him by 10:00 that evening.

Amy, meanwhile, is prepping for a date of her own and models a dress for Bernadette and Penny. While Amy claims she is stepping outside of her comfort zone, the dress is a conservative and dowdy as anything Amy has previously worn. While Amy claims that the brain is the sexiest organ, Penny points out to her that her brain isn’t going to score her the same free drinks that Penny’s cleavage can score her. Amy reveals that he’s tall, named Dave, that they’ve kissed, and he’s British, leading to squeals from Penny and Bernadette. Amy also reveals that Dave is taking her to a new Italian restaurant on Walnut Street. When Amy leaves the room to search for taller shoes, despite Penny claiming she tossed all her high heels when she married Leonard, Bernadette suggests that she and Penny swing by to spy of Amy and Dave. Bernadette reveals more of her devious side and when Penny calls her on it, she shrugs it off, noting that since she’s little, everything she does is just adorable, which is the very attitude that gets her in trouble at work.

Howard suggests just putting Sheldon out on every possible dating site (including, one wonders, the app that Stuart was using earlier in the season). Sheldon is concerned because he’s heard that a lot of those site have programs that emulate real people, causing Raj to wonder if Sheldon is afraid that he can’t act as real as the computer program (and strangely, Sheldon’s concern doesn’t even bring up a mention of the Turing Test, meaning the writers missed an excellent chance to bolster their geek cred). Sheldon suggests that instead of putting him on dating sites, women should just fight a battle of wits for the right to sit quietly next to him while he binge watches Daredevil (the Netflix series, not the Ben Affleck film). Sheldon’s idea gives Raj the idea that they should present Sheldon as a prize, leading Howard to suggest that they put out a series of puzzles resulting in Sheldon’s contact information.

Leonard questions Penny about leaving early for their movie and she reveals that they will be meeting up with Bernadette to spy on Amy and Dave. Leonard shows as much excitement for that plan as Penny does for the documentary on aluminum can recycling (Leonard does seem to drag Penny to a lot of documentaries, which makes one wonder what types of theatres there are in Pasadena).

The quiz is live and not only includes mathematics, science, and nerdom, but also the ability to read Sheldon’s mind to know the “best” noble gas. Howard explains to Raj that anyone who can solve the puzzles is intelligent, tenacious, and socially awkward since she doesn’t have anything else to do on a Saturday night.

Dave (portrayed by Stephen Merchant) is having dinner in the window (of course) with Amy, and reveals that he has been divorced. Amy asks about the divorce and is told that while Dave wanted children, his wife wanted a pastry chef named Jean-Philippe. Across the street, Penny and Leonard join Bernadette in the car, but they are too far to see details. When Penny complains, Bernadette pulls out a large set of binoculars. She explains that she liked to keep tabs on her boyfriends before she dated Howard, but she denies she’s a stalker since stalkers are creepy and she’s just a little girl with military grade spy equipment. The writers using Bernadette’s size as an excuse for all of her anti-social behavior over the last few years seems to be getting a little lazy. When Leonard complains that he can’t hear what they’re saying, Bernadette laments not having brought her parabolic microphone. Having broached the subject of Dave’s ex-wife, the conversation now turns to Amy’s ex-boyfriend. When Amy explains that she was dating a theoretical physicist from Caltech, Dave realizes it must be Sheldon Cooper and he begins to fanboy all over Sheldon, killing any interest Amy has in him. If only Dave knew that he could be solving puzzles in order to meet Sheldon, his night would be complete. Dave can’t let Sheldon drop, completely ignoring Amy’s loss of interest. Dave wants Amy to introduce him to Sheldon, even though it might be a little weird.

Sheldon, Raj, and Howard are down to the last thirty minutes of their contest, not knowing if anyone is working on the puzzle, although Sheldon is convinced someone will show up. When Raj suggests that maybe Sheldon should look for his opposite, Sheldon sees that as meaning someone short, dull, and needy, which he feels describes pretty much all of the other characters on the show.

Dave, meanwhile, is now telling Amy that he once drove 500 miles to hear Sheldon speak. Amy has a DVD of the lecture, given to her as a Valentine’s Day present. Dave is proud that on her DVD, Amy can hear his ask a question that Sheldon called “stupid and obvious,” the nicest response anyone received that day. In the surveillance car, Bernadette notices that Amy and Dave are leaving the restaurant and Bernadette starts to leave, accidentally bumping into Dave’s car. As they go to inspect the damage, Dave recognizes Leonard as Dr. Leonard Hofstadter, who presented with Sheldon, and is therefore as almost excited about meeting him as he would be to meet Sheldon.

Down to the last minute, Sheldon is still convinced that someone will knock on the door and he’s worried Jennifer Lawrence might show up. As the countdown finishes, nobody shows up. A few minutes after the deadline, there is a knock on the door and Sheldon opens it to find Vanessa Bennett there. Back in the 1970s, television shows often used the same guest actor in a variety of roles without anyone commenting on the similarity of, say Mr Kwang and Dr, Syn Paik (2 of 5 roles played by Soon-Teck Oh on M*A*S*H). In the twenty-first century, television shows have gotten better about not re-casting the same actor in multiple roles. Recently, The Big Bang Theory reused Molly Morgan, who played Bethany in the season 3, episode 3 “The Gothowitz Deviation” and as an unnamed Escape Room hostess in season 8, episode 16 “The Intimacy Acceleration,” although it is conceivable that she was the same character. Now, however, they have reused an actress is two very different roles. Analeigh Tipton first appeared as herself in season 2, episode 7 “The Panty Piñata Polarization,” and now appears as Vanessa Bennett, who solves Sheldon, Raj, and Howard’s puzzle, although shows up after the deadline with predictable results.

Because Bernadette damaged Dave’s car, Amy drives him home, where they have an awkward scene in which Dave asks her out again and Amy tells him that they aren’t working out. Ever the optimist, Dave realizes this means he has been rejected by the same woman who rejected Sheldon Cooper. Amy is clearly getting more anxious as he points out that both he and Sheldon have kissed Amy. Before he could go any further with this strange logical process, Amy kicks him out of the car.

The episode skirts around the characters’ interests, discussing them, but not really showing them. Howard, Raj, and Sheldon get excited about their intellectual scavenger hunt, but the hunt itself is mostly created off screen and only alluded to on the show. Dave is excited at the prospect of meeting a scientific genius, which is actually rather nice as it indicates that Sheldon (and Leonard) actually does have a reputation in the field.

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