The gang creates the prom they each—aside from Penny—never had.

Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS

Last week Sheldon found heaven, and this week hell has frozen over. That’s the only explanation for what transpired tonight: Sheldon said “I love you”—and he wasn’t talking to his mother.

From the top of the episode, I thought, “Oh, here we go again.” It started with the guys all together talking about something that wasn’t too funny—in this case Howard’s mother and gibbon monkeys. The girls were having their weekly (nightly?) happy hour and discussing something else not too funny either. Overall, the episode wasn’t funny—but dammit if that Sheldon/Amy scene didn’t make me happy. It redeemed the episode; it kept Sheldon true to who we’ve known him to be, but allowed his character (and his heart—like the Grinch!) to grow just a smidgen.

That not-funny thing that the girls were talking about? Prom. And although Penny is hating on it, Bernadette and Amy are dying for a do-over of the clichéd night. They suggest decorating the roof, getting their hair done, putting the guys in tuxes, slow dancing, the works. The guys seem to be into it, too.

So Bernadette sends out an Evite and sets the Night to Remember in motion. Being friendly and hospitable as she is, Bernadette invites Stewart, who RSVPs with a plus one. Howard is upset that it’s his mother—then equally upset when he finds out it’s not his mother. Stewart ends up bringing Jeanie, the second cousin to whom Howard lost his virginity. This results in a limo fight the night of the big dance. The big takeaways from this: Howard’s family has issues; Stewart has issues; the writers want us to think Emily has issues because she’s very dark.

Over at the apartment, Sheldon and Leonard prep for the evening. Sheldon wanted to go as an alien observing humans, but no one would do it with him (and even he knew it would be wrong to hire someone). So he decides to make the best of it and do the prom experience right. He’s even taking a flask and spiking the punch… with pomegranate juice.

But when the guys go (across the hall) to pick up Amy and Penny, Sheldon freaks out and goes to hide in his room. It turns out he’s having a panic attack; all the talk of the rituals of after-prom have made him anxious. He thinks Amy will pressure him into “making whoopee.” When she assures him she has no expectation of that, she takes the moment to tell him that she loves him—but he beats her to it. (If you didn’t audibly say “aww” here, go get your heart checked.) It was such a tender moment—one that this show desperately needed in an otherwise barren season.

And naturally, the affection doesn’t last long. When Amy starts to have her own panic attack, Sheldon tells her to lie down—but not in his room. Girls still aren’t allowed in there, of course. Some things never change. And they shouldn’t.

Oh, and Penny and Leonard were in the episode. The end.

The Laughter Surplus

“Ever since I saw Pretty in Pink, I’ve wanted to go to an American prom. But then I saw Carrie and I did not want to go to an American prom. But then I saw Never Been Kissed and I’m back on the prom bandwagon… This prom thing has been a real roller coaster.” —Raj

“Bruce Wayne doesn’t wear a clip-on.” —Sheldon

“Bruce Wayne doesn’t make his roommate tie it for him.” —Leonard

“His name is Alfred, and, yes, he does.” —Sheldon

“It’s all the fun of high school hi-jinx with the self-protecting zip of antioxidants.” —Sheldon

“I took a little lady I like to call loneliness… We ended up having a threesome with her friend humiliation.” –Leonard

“According to an online message board, I may be having a panic attack. SoccerMom09 had similar symptoms. But to be fair, the twins were a real handful that day.” —Sheldon

“I’m not blind. Even I looked twice when I saw my posterior in these tuxedo pants.” —Sheldon

The Twee Effect

“There’s no denying I have feelings for you that can’t be explained in any other way. I briefly considered that I had a brain parasite, but that seems even more far-fetched. The only conclusion was love.” —Sheldon

Follow me on Twitter: @realdalener

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