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'Big Bang Theory' recap: 'The Leftover Thermalization'

The gang remembers Mrs. Wolowitz while dining on brisket, meatloaf, and a roll of antacids.

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Neil Jacobs/CBS

The Big Bang Theory

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco, Scott Halberstadt, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, Frank Pacheco
Chuck Lorre

I love when The Big Bang Theory writers have Sheldon recite incredible scientific data. With that said, I am entirely thrilled that the viewing audience was spared from hearing him quote pi (3.14) to a thousand places. It’s easy to be enamored by Sheldon’s eidetic memory, but story lines that revolve around his lack of social skills are quite entertaining. Especially when he has no idea what he has done wrong.

After being interviewed by a reporter on his joint research with Leonard, Sheldon is excited to receive his copy of Scientific American in the mail. Amy discovers that the article only mentions Sheldon’s name and “Dr. Cooper’s team.” Sheldon has no clue why Amy thinks Leonard will be upset. He didn’t purposely forget to mention Leonard. But he did manage to commend the prestigious magazine for refraining from including smelly perfume cards in their publication. Amy is certain that Leonard won’t view this as restitution. 

Amy helps Sheldon see reason by using a metaphor from a recent trip to Disneyland. She reminds him that he was also overlooked in lieu of a greater force. Sheldon remembers how he felt when a little kid was chosen to pull the sword from the stone instead of him. He knows what it’s like to walk in the shoes of devastation. He eases into the uncomfortable conversation by asking Leonard a series of “which name is on the utility bill” questions, before he drops the bomb. Leonard is visibly upset that he was omitted from the article. Sheldon tries to help by offering him a neck massage. Leonard’s irritation morphs into shock when Sheldon actually touches him. This must be serious. 

While Sheldon tries to work through the tension in Leonard’s shoulders, Howard faces his own disappointment. A transformer blew up at his mother’s house. Without electricity, the only thing non-perishable in the kitchen is the drawer full of ketchup packets. Once again, The Big Bang Theory writers bring tears to my eyes as Howard stares longingly at a spoiling bucket full of his mom’s soup. I’ve been known to cry over chocolate cake before, but who knew matzo balls could make a person so emotional? 

Howard decides to cook everything in the refrigerator. He wants his friends to celebrate his mother by eating the last food she ever made. Mrs. Wolowitz is going to feed everyone one last time. Raj cries as he fires up the gas stove. He wasn’t the only one. This makes three weeks in a row that The Big Bang Theory had me reaching for a tissue.

On the way to Mrs. Wolowitz’s house, Leonard complains to Penny about how the joint research is based on his idea. In separate car, Sheldon complains to Amy that Leonard’s idea would be nothing without his mathematical execution. When they walk into the house, both Penny and Amy demand that the boys keep their mouths shut. This night is about Howard. 

Everyone sits around the dining room table, comforted by mounds of meatloaf and plates of brisket and kugel (or “Jewish lasagna” if you’re Raj). Amy thinks the candles give off a romantic glow. She compares the warm environment to that of an 18th-century French salon. Sheldon explains to Penny that a salon is where intellectuals entertained each other with sparkling conversation. Apparently it’s much more than a place to get a dye job and blowout every couple of months. 

The conversation quickly escalates from Marvel’s introduction of a female Thor to Sheldon and Leonard berating each other across the table. Sassy Bernadette makes an appearance and ushers the roommates into the next room. Those remaining at the table sit dazed. Bernadette sounds exactly like Mrs. Wolowitz. The mimicry is uncanny. Take a bow, Melissa Rauch. Well done.

The moment was another sweet tribute to the late Carol Ann Susi, who originally played Mrs. Wolowitz. She may be gone, but she will not be forgotten. 

Theoretical Laughter

“You relax all of your muscles. Except for your pubococcygeus and your anal sphincter. Let’s keep those tight.”—Sheldon, helping Leonard through his pain

“Here’s my boutonniere from my high school prom. And a piece of cake from my bar mitzvah…. If I find my foreskin in here, I’m going to kill myself.”—Howard, emptying out the contents of his mother’s freezer

“That’s why my people wandered the desert for 40 years. It took that long to walk it off.”—Howard, agonizing over feeling stuffed after dinner