The Big Bang Theory Recap: S9, E11 The Opening Night Excitation

This episode does some very interesting things, although not necessarily the driving force between the main plot, about Sheldon’s birthday present for Amy. Airing on the same day that Star Wars: The Force Awakens opened, the episode opens with a revised opening sequence done in the style of Star Wars. Yellow outlined letters against a starfield proclaim the show’s title and scroll back to John William’s iconic score to reveal that this is the 194th episode of The Big Bang Theory, entitled “The Opening Night Excitation.” The scroll then sets the scene as the four male characters are on the verge of trying to buy tickets for opening night, reminiscent of their attempt to buy tickets to Comic Con in season 7, episode 14: “The Convention Conundrum,” which resulted in no Comic Con tickets, but Sheldon getting to spend the evening with a fanboy version of James Earl Jones (coincidentally, the 149th episode). The camera scrolls down to Earth and fades to the apartment where a frantic Leonard announces that tickets are on sale early. The find that they can’t get into the website and Sheldon declares the situation desparate (without even continuously hitting the refresh button). He drops to his knees to pray to his mother’s God in whom he doesn’t believe. Before he can get very far, Howard announces that he has successfully purchased tickets for The Force Awakens and Sheldon’s potential conversion ends as quickly as it began. However, the universe (or God) isn’t done messing with him.

At dinner on December 14 (three days before Star Wars), Penny comments about how happy she is that Sheldon and Amy are back together. Leonard is also happy, although his joy is more Force-related than reality related. Penny brings Sheldon’s plan to watch the movie following a binge of the original trilogy while eating Star Wars themed cereal to a potentially crashing halt by pointing out that December 17th is Amy’s birthday. Sheldon fails to see the relevance since he already has his ticket, which he purchased when he and Amy were apart, and he can’t just let it go to waste. Furthermore, if he postpones seeing the movie, he might not be able to avoid spoilers.

bb1Thinking the case is closed, Sheldon awakens in the middle of the night to find himself in conversation with his mentor, Professor Proton. At this point it should be noted that Bob Newhart’s appearances on The Big Bang Theory are always the highlight of any episode he agrees to appear in. In tonight’s episode, he nails it with his first line, when he notice he’s wearing the Jedi robes he first donned in season 7, episode 2: “The Proton Transmogrification” (which episode involved a count down to Star Wars Day), and he wryly comments on his attire, “O great, this again.” When Sheldon asks why Arthur is visiting him, Professor Proton just hopes it isn’t a sex dream, something which Sheldon is not known for having, although it does foreshadow the main plot of the evening’s episode. Sheldon realizes that he needs to figure out what to do about Amy, but Professor Proton doesn’t sees why Sheldon can’t figure out that the answer is to skip the movie and hang out with Amy. In one small glitch, the bed movies when the Jedi Professor Proton sits on the end. It seems like he should not have made any indentation. In any event, he explains to Sheldon why Sheldon should show Amy how much she means to him. Professor Proton pointing out that Sheldon only has a limited number of days to be with Amy carries a lot of emotional weight, especially since Arthur established in his first appearance (season 6, episode 23: “The Proton Resurgence”) that he no longer had his wife. It also strikes a chorde because it reiterates when Professor Proton told Sheldon when Sheldon was planning his Star Wars Day rewatch in “The Proton Transmogrification.”

After Professor Proton vanishes to find a pair of pants, Amy is awoken by a call from Sheldon, who is reassuring her that they will be spending their birthday together, which surprises Amy since she had no idea that spending it apart was even a consideration, showing how little her character knows about her boyfriend. The real question of the scene is why Amy puts up with Sheldon at all or wanted him back.

Heading out to the comic book store, Howard, Raj, and Leonard discuss how weird it will be to see the movie without Sheldon. The very briefly consider waiting a few days to see it with Sheldon, but quickly reject the notion. Sheldon also can’t go to the comic book store since he has to figure out what to get Amy for her birthday. Sheldon offers his ticket to Leonard to give to someone worthy. When Leonard mentions taking Penny, Sheldon pulls the ticket from his hand to give to Raj. Penny does have her uses, and Sheldon heads over to find Penny and Bernadette to ask their advice about Amy’s gift. Bernadette calling for him to come in after he knocks and calls Penny’s name is an excellent gag and leaves Sheldon temporarily stymied. He has three ideas: a chance to play the harp with the LA Philharmonic, although he doesn’t know if that is possible, a ticket to the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival, although he won’t be going with her and couldn’t keep her warm in snowy Wisconsin despite Bernadette’s suggestion since it takes place in September, or Sheldon has coitus with Amy, leading to Penny breaking a glass.

In the comic book store, Leonard suggests taking Stuart to the movie. Despite Raj and Howard’s reservations that Stuart goes to the movies armed with chicken in Tupperware, Leonard makes the offer. Before Leonard can make the offer to save Stuart from an evening of mall walking, Wil Wheaton enters and Howard offers him the ticket. The offer is ingenious, not just because of Wil’s film experience, but because he is Sheldon’s erstwhile nemesis.

Having finished cleaning up the broken glass, Penny still hasn’t fully processed Sheldon’s suggestion. Sheldon is wondering which she would prefer and comments that he checked the Sheep and Wool Festival website and there are only 8,000 tickets left. In fact, the event does not appear to have pre-sales, instead indicating that passes are available at the gate for $8 per day or $15 for the weekend. Penny and Bernadette question whether Sheldon is really ready to have sex with Amy. He tells them that he is and that it will show her how much he cares for her.

Penny and Bernadette can’t keep their mouths shut and hint about Sheldon’s gift to Amy. When they finally break down and tell her what he’s giving her, the two scientists and Penny giggle like kids.

Professor Proton appears in Sheldon’s bedroom again, lamenting that it isn’t Angie Dickinson’s bedroom, Dickinson being a name that will resonate with fans of Newhart’s, but may be unfamiliar to younger viewers as she hasn’t had very many roles in the past fifteen years. When Sheldon admits that he’s going to have coitus with Amy and hasn’t done it before, Professor Proton smiles, pulls out his light saber, and attempts to disembowel himself, which doesn’t work on account of him being a ghost. Gur frdhrapr vf n jbaqreshy cerqvpgbe bs Una Fbyb’f sngr va Gur Sbepr Njnxraf. Turning back to Sheldon and his request for help, Proton begins to explain the dynamics, using such terms a “bloomers,” and expressing his disgust with the term “junk.” Sheldon admits that he is concerned about being overwhelmed. Arthur gives Sheldon advice, which Sheldon and Arthur realize is just an expression of Sheldon’s own mind.

Thrusday night, the boys are dressed in Star Wars T-shirts and ready to go. Penny is just as excited because she mistakenly thinks that they’ll stop talking about the movie after the see it. The question arises about who will have more fun, Leonard, Howard, and Raj, who don’t seem to know what Sheldon has planned, or Sheldon. Bernadette is convinced that Sheldon will have more fun, but Penny isn’t so sure. At this point, the episode begins switching back and forth between Sheldon and Amy’s date and the boys at the theatre,the two experiences mirroring each other in a wonderful way, and although the Sheldon storyline is the culmination of several year’s of character development, nearly all of the interesting things happen in the movie theatre.

Amy prepares for her date by lighting candles and reclining on the couch seductively, which would have worked better if she hadn’t chain locked the door. Sheldon offers her flowers and explains he is late because he was chasing a balloon that got away. When Sheldon offers to take her out for dinner, Amy suggests that Sheldon could give her a present first. Amy hints that she has a clue about the gift, and Sheldon even picks up that something is strange. She admits that she knows what her present is. She gives him a kiss and he insists on getting verbal consent and offers to download a contract to make sure everything is okay. Eventually Sheldon is waiting for Amy in her bed and a nervous Amy comes in and joins him under the covers. The scene offers up the appropriate awkwardness, although Sheldon doesn’t understand why Amy should be nervous.

bb2Wil Wheaton shows up at the theatre wearing a Star Trek shirt and Spock ears, receiving a healthy round of boos from the audience. Flashing a Vulcan salute, he walks down the aisle milking the reaction. In response to a call of “Star Trek stinks,” Wil responds “Live long and suck it.” Wil explains to Leonard that he is just having fun because so many people take Star Wars so seriously. He rightfully points out that the film is just a film. It being good or bad won’t ruin people’s lives, just like people’s lives weren’t ruined by the prequel trilogy of the second Abrams Star Trek film. It is a short speech, but quite effective and really is the heart of the episode. It is also a juxtaposition of Sheldon and Amy’s evening which very well may change one or both of their lives. Despite Wil’s words, Leonard and Howard are also nervous for the same reasons Amy is. Wil reminds them its only a movie, but follows it up with a reference to Jar Jar Binks.

A few hours later, Sheldon admits to enjoying coitus more than he thought he would and Amy agrees with him. Sheldon indicates they’ll do it again on Amy’s next birthday, which she agrees to, although it would be more in character for her to want to do it again sooner. At the theatre, Wil admits to enjoying the film more than he thought he would. A spent Leonard, Howard, and Raj are lying in their seats in a post-coital stupor.

In the kicker, Professor Proton appears to find out how Sheldon’s date went. Sheldon tells him it was amazing, but in his natural state, Sheldon assumes Professor Proton means the film. When Arthur tries to clarify, Sheldon explains that Amy just doesn’t have the same history with the films as he does.

The writers captured the feel surrounding Star Wars perfectly, not just for self-proclaimed nerds, but for the population in general, which helped propel the film to the largest opening weekend in history. Wheaton’s commentary on them was perfectly true and felt right. It wasn’t really putting Star Wars down, but rather was acknowledging the Star WarsStar Trek as well as putting the films into their realistic context.

With regard to the Sheldon story line, it alters one of the most unique aspects of Sheldon’s personality. There are very few asexual characters on television. There have long been horndogs, gay characters, people who are interested in sex with anyone not their spouse, etc. Although Sheldon’s stated need not to have sex before next December and his misinterpretation of Arthur’s question indicate that he may remain functionally asexual, the fact is that he has now had sex and it will be easier for the writers to expand on that aspect of his relationship with Amy in the future, just as they found it easy to take Amy from being as asexual as Sheldon in her early appearances to focusing on the lack of physical intimacy in their relationship over the past several seasons.

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