The Big Bang Theory Recap: S:9.E:19: The Solder Excursion Diversion

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The episode opens with Sheldon and Amy Skyping, but Sheldon’s computer has a faulty keyboard, video card, and sounds are failing. Sheldon’s explanation that he likes the computer he has doesn’t ring true. While Sheldon does have a strong propensity for hanging on to things, he has also been shown as a technophile who is constantly looking to have the best hardware and software possible, perhaps not an early adopter, but certainly someone who will upgrade as soon as he is convinced that he’s getting something better. And knowing that his hardware is failing, he would certainly have begun the replacement process knowing how long it would take him and how horrible it would be to be without a laptop for even half an hour (frankly, he should have a backup sealed and waiting in his closet). The sound cutting out and video failing jokes in the opening sequence are obvious, as is Amy’s ultimate solution of calling Sheldon.

Howard and Leonard are working on the positioning system in Howard’s lab, reflecting on the fact that they haven’t worked on a scientific project together in a year (unless you count Legos). They are interrupted and surprised by Penny and Bernadette dropping by. Penny offers to help and is surprised when Leonard says that they actually could help them wrap Teflon tape around pipe fittings. Penny suggests it would be funny if she were to make a scientific breakthrough just by wrapping the tape, but Leonard doesn’t find it funny.

Sheldon’s computer is still giving him problems and suddenly the screen changes colors and goes dark in a way that computers tend not to, although at least the special effects guys didn’t feel the need to add sparks to the computer’s death. As he solemnly closes the laptop’s top, Amy enters, but Sheldon informs her she is too late. He keys up “Taps” on his phone, wraps a pall around the computer and stands quietly over it. When Amy tells him he’s being silly, he compares the death of his computer to the death of a lab monkey who told Amy that he loved her. Eventually, Amy also stands quietly for “Taps,” although her expression shows exactly what she’s thinking. Amy surprises Sheldon with a new laptop. Rather than express gratitude (which would be un-Sheldonesque), he explains that the purchase of a new laptop is a ritual, requiring research (although he doesn’t explain how he would do it without a working computer), sleepless nights, and more. However, Amy managed to get a perfect computer from the “guy at the store,” who turns out to be Sheldon’s normal “guy.”

As Leonard finishes teaching Penny and Bernadette how to wrap the tubes, Howard realizes that they don’t have enough solder. When Penny asks how they could run out of solder, Leonard explains it is a funny story and launches into an explanation of how two differed types of solder look similar. Penny stops him by telling him it isn’t funny, which is fair, since he didn’t think her earlier “funny” comment was all that funny either. While Howard and Leonard leave to go to the hardware store, the girls decide to stay to wrap the pipes. As soon as the door closes, Penny asks Bernadette what solder is.

Sheldon, meanwhile is having a moment with his new computer. He is thrilled at how quickly it boots up. When he ribs Amy for taking away his pleasure in researching a new computer, she threatens to make “Hw” sounds (although she calls them “wh sounds”) for words that only have a “w.” The resolution is 4K, which will allow Sheldon to count all of Amy’s nostril hairs (of which she has more than she has eyes). Amy explains that Sheldon could bring in his old computer and Rick (“The Guy”) will give him store credit, but Sheldon refuses and becomes very protective of his old computer. Despite Sheldon insisting on changing the subject, Amy pushes and eventually Sheldon invites her to go somewhere with him and his dead laptop.

As Howard and Leonard are walking to the hardware store, they are accosted by a marketer who offers them tickets to an un-released film starring Will Smith. Howard is convinced it is Suicide Squad and they accept the tickets, since the girls are enjoying themselves working on the prototype and will never know. As they enter the theatre, Leonard comments that if it is actually for Shark Tale 2, it had better be as good as the first one (although there is no indication that there is a Shark Tale 2 in production).

Penny is thinking about how strange it is that she is in a lab at Caltech working on a high tech guidance system prototype when she only wanted to be an actress. What Bernadette finds crazy is how slowly Penny is working. They are interrupted by Raj, who has come in looking for Howard and Leonard. Bernadette asks why Raj is working on the weekend and he responds that the stars don’t take a day off (and the writers missed the opportunity to have Penny make a comment about there not being any stars during the day). In fact, Raj was home alone and feeling lonely. Raj offers to help, but they turn him down. After he leaves, Bernadette asks Penny if they should have invited Raj to stay and Raj says “yes” through the door in a falsetto voice.

Amy is driving Sheldon to his destination, but he refuses to tell her where they are going, expect on a turn-by-turn level.

At the theatre, Leonard wonders how to tell the girls what happened. Howard explains that isn’t a problem until Leonard explains the he doesn’t want to lie. Howard prevails, however, and Penny receives a text claiming that they were driving to San Bernardino for the solder and got a flat. Howard explains that they have to be careful and swap out the tire for the spare before heading back to the lab. The lie falls apart, however, when Howard decides to text Raj to rub his face in the fact that they are seeing Suicide Squad and Raj isn’t.

Of course, Raj is with Penny and Bernadette and when he receives the text he simply asks them to leave so he can foul up their experiment. Raj shared the news with the girls and Penny and Bernadette decide to see how deep a hole they’ll dig for themselves.

Sheldon and Amy have arrived at a storage unit where Sheldon stores everything he has ever owned. Sheldon refers to it as his “Fortress of Shame,” which doesn’t seem right since it makes him sound much more self-aware than he has ever demonstrated. Sheldon seems like the type to rationalize saving everything by thinking that at some point in the future when he has won his Nobel Prize, his biographers would want to have access to all his stuff. Amy wants to reassure him, but needs a moment to figure out how to do it.

Penny wonders how they should react to Howard and Leonard’s return. When Raj suggests that Penny and Bernadette should make out with him (ignoring the fact that these are the wives of two of his closest friends), Penny puts her arms around his neck and asks if he really thinks he could handle making out with both of them. He offers a sad “No, ma’am.” Bernadette suggests that Raj hide in the closet, allow the boys to tell whatever story they want, and then he can jump out and bust them. Raj’s role playing of the big moment leaves him realizing that he wouldn’t make out with himself, either.

Sheldon gives Amy a tour of the detritus of his life (although the storage locker seems a little small for all the crap he should have acquired, and seems a little too easy to walk around in). Amy asks why he saves everything. Rather than nostalgia or posterity, it is because Sheldon has a physical aversion to throwing things away. He explains that every time he is in the storage locker he feels that he isn’t as great as he should be since he wants to leave the physical world behind, but can’t even get rid of the garbage of his life. Amy tries to make him feel better by sharing some of the things she has saved.

With Howard and Leonard approaching the lab, Raj explains that when he comes out of the closet he’s going to nail them, playing into the long-running Raj-as-homosexual joke that dates back to the first season. He hides just as the boys enter bearing flowers. Rather than make up a cock and bull story, they tell the truth, present the flowers, and offer to take them to dinner. When it sounds like Penny and Bernadette will forgive their husbands, Raj shouts from the closet that they should not forgive them. Howard, Bernadette, Leonard, and Penny leave to go to dinner and when Bernadette asks if they should invite Raj, his falsetto voice says “yes” from the closet.

Back at the Storage unit, Amy convinces Sheldon to start small and get rid of something. Sheldon grabs the box storing the gold ball his brother once threw at him. He slowly walks out of the unit and drops it into the garbage. Rather than claw it out of the garbage, he closes the door to the unit as the golf ball rolls across the floor in the unit.

At the apartment, Sheldon suggestively notes that he has a few hours before he goes to bed. Knowing Sheldon, Amy cautiously asks what he has in mind. Sheldon winds up lying on his bed Skyping with her and marveling at the clarity of his new computer display as a dejected Amy points out how much better being in person would have been.

It was great seeing Howard and Leonard actually doing something to build their invention, even if they ducked out to see a pop culture film and left Bernadette and Penny to do the work. Penny’s comment about leaving the science to the girls rang a little false since she was with Bernadette, who has a doctorate in microbiology, and they hang out with Amy, who is a neurobiologist. Howard’s reaction to the possibility of seeing Suicide Squad and his desire to hold his knowledge of the film over Raj were the most truthful aspects of the episode.

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