Entertainment Weekly


Stay Connected


Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content


'Big Bang Theory' recap: 'The Empathy Optimization'

Get ready for the Sheldon Cooper Apology Tour coming to a city near you

Posted on

Michael Yarish/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

Way back in season 1 of The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon proved he was twice as obnoxious when suffering from any kind of illness. His friends would sneak off to watch Planet of the Apes marathons within minutes of the first suspicious sniffle. But that’s no longer the case. Our favorite geeks have matured. Howard and Leonard are married. Penny and Bernadette are trusted cogs in the Sheldon Cooper wheel. And Raj is dating a doctor. No one ditches the group. They are all in this together. Although Sheldon still demands steaming bowls of hot chicken noodle soup and a generous slathering of vapor rub, the entire gang rallies, knowing they could easily be one “Soft Kitty” away from clear mucus. 

Once Sheldon officially announces that he’s finally healthy and ready to return to work, his friends give him the cold shoulder. He’s confused why his escape from death doesn’t result in victorious applause. Everyone is quick to remind him of his rude behavior. Penny cooked and cleaned, Bernadette provided free drugs from work, and Emily offered to examine him. Not once did he thank anyone for bending over backwards to help him get better.

You may be wondering why Amy wasn’t waiting on Sheldon during his bout with the flu. She’s still at the neurobiology conference. I’ll give you three guesses why she didn’t come home. Who wouldn’t want to stay a few extra days to explore the sleeting streets of Detroit in the middle of January?

Leonard thinks that they all deserve a vacation after waiting on Sheldon hand and foot. He suggests a party bus to Vegas. A bus with booze and music instead of juice boxes and video games like the one from Howard’s birthday party. Sheldon overhears Leonard planning but opts out when he learns the final destination is “America’s urinal cake.” Leonard is quick to inform his roommate that he wasn’t invited in the first place. 

WANT MORE? Keep up with all the latest from last night’s television by subscribing to our newsletter. Head here for more details.

Sheldon video chats with Amy and is thoroughly upset that he has been shunned from participating in the super fun party bus trip. Amy takes great care in explaining how empathy works and suggests he apologize to everyone and maybe actually mean it for once.

He starts with Leonard and recites a genuine apology. Leonard senses Sheldon’s sincerity, thanks him for the apology, and breaks the news that he’s still not going on the trip. He must apologize to everyone. Challenge accepted! All aboard the apology train!

NEXT: At least Emily