It is a well-known fact that The Big Bang Theory knows how to make us a laugh. Week after week, we laugh at Penny’s sarcastic and witty humor as she nails each punch line, we giggle over Raj’s overly attached relationship with his pet dog, Cinnamon, we crack up at Howard’s jokes even when Bernadette doesn’t, and we can’t help but literally laugh out loud whenever Sheldon is poking fun at Leonard or attempting to please Amy. Week after week we laugh, and this week was no different up until the very end when they unexpectedly made us cry. A couple of months ago, the woman who voiced the infamous Mrs. Wolowitz passed away. Carol Ann Susi was absolutely extraordinary. Her character of the overbearing mother to the absurdly attached son was depicted simply by her voice and his reactions to that voice. We would occasionally catch fleeting glimpses of her, but never was there a clear visual of her character. Still, even with the lack of a physical presence on the show, she managed to make her mark, and will forever be remembered.
There is a lesson within the topic of grieving over someone, and that lies with the art of letting go. In this episode, the characters learn the importance of this lesson while simultaneously paying homage to one of television’s most memorable characters, and in the end, letting her go.
Letting things go can be tough for anybody, so it is especially hard for Sheldon, the guy who needs to control everything and everybody in his life. His lesson begins while he is having a nice lunch with Amy at work. He’s telling jokes like nobody’s business since he knows that a good joke not only entertains, it informs. I.e. How many Edisons does it take to screw in light bulb? Who cares? He stole the idea, and doesn’t deserve his own joke. Sheldon is getting better at social interactions and being more perceptive of others’ emotions, but he still needs a little work on knowing how to tell a funny joke. Barry Kripke eventually barges in to the lab barring a gift for Amy. She apparently helped him out with some of his research, and he really hit a breakthrough. Upon learning this, Sheldon loses control. How can she help his arch-nemesis make an advancement in string theory, the very field he left because he hit a dead end?
Obviously, Amy did something nice. She helped a fellow scientist, and in turn, supported the science community as a whole. However, Sheldon does not see it that way, but he has to let it go. He evidently can’t do this on his own, so Penny attempts to help him learn the ways of this art. With a couple of visual exercises, she tries to get him to finally let go, but of course Sheldon turns a simple exercise into the most difficult task. Instead of forgetting about it, he then decides to focus the attention on Penny, and informs her of a little experiment Amy has been conducting. For the past few months, Amy has been secretly giving Penny puzzles to test her intelligence against the chimpanzees at her lab. Ouch. Giving Penny a taste of her own medicine, he suggests to just “let it go.” It is now Penny’s turn to get acquainted with trying to let something go, but she can’t. She feels humiliated, hurt. After she confronts Amy about it, Amy only offers her a crisp $10 for every experiment she participates, which is a much better rate the college undergraduates are getting. Again, Penny is not able to take her own advice, and doesn’t let it go.
In other news, Stuart is finally reopening the comic book store, but much to Howard’s dismay, the reopening was only possible because Howard’s mother was financially helping Stuart. However, it’s great that Stuart’s back on his feet, so some apologies are made on both their parts, but wait. Is that Howard’s furniture in the store? Indeed, it is. Turns out Mrs. Wolowitz gave Stuart some of her furniture as a gift. Howard is livid. Insults are thrown,feelings hurt, and things are quickly getting awkward for Leonard and Raj, so they decide to slip out to get some food for the reopening party.
While waiting for the food order, Raj and Leonard run into a surprise guest. As they wait, Raj spots Castle’s Nathan Fillion eating a salad, and is excited to discover that both he and Captain Reynolds share a distaste for tomatoes! As they approach him, they praise his work in Firefly and Dr. Horrible, but unfortunately, this Nathan Fillion claims to not be the Nathan Fillion, so he politely asks for them to go away. They do, but Raj cannot let it go. He has to be Nathan Fillion, so he asks again and Fillion finally concedes, and even offers to take a selfie with them, but now Raj is skeptical. Maybe he’s not who he says he is. Why else would he be eating alone at a deli? The real Nathan Fillion would never do that. As a test, he demands Fillion recite that famous Firefly bonnet line. The one that goes, “I swear by my pretty floral bonnet, I will end you.” Of course he knows it, but Raj cannot let this go. He knows the line too, and that doesn’t mean he’s Nathan Fillion. In the end, Raj decides a picture with someone who looks like Nathan Fillion is just as good for Facebook.
Finally, in the last moments of the show, everyone is back at the comic book store. Howard receives a phone call, and by his stunned expression, we know something is wrong. He then announces that his mother has passed away. Everyone’s reaction is so raw in this scene that you can’t help but know that these actors weren’t acting when mourning the death of Mrs. Wolowitz because they were in fact mourning the death of Carol Ann Susie. Every tear, every cry is real. The group is huddled around a shocked Howard, and when Sheldon speaks up, you wonder whether he’s going to be thoughtless and say the episode’s motto, “let it go,” just as he did to Penny earlier in the evening. Instead, what he offers is consoling advice, advice that will make you choke back tears. He somberly says, “When I lost my own father, I didn’t have any friends to help me through it. You do.” Cue the waterworks.
The episode ends on a sad, but celebratory note as the cast cheers for the life and legacy of Mrs. Wolowitz. She truly was one of a kind, and will always be remembered. Witness her in all her sassiness in the clip after the jump.
“That doesn’t mean you should be standing around street corners, handing out your math to whatever guy comes along.”—Sheldon
“I can’t believe you were testing me against a chimp!”—Penny
“Well, excuse me, Amy was testing you. I was rooting for you.”—Sheldon
“The guy who plays Jon Snow is a jerk. We still watch Game of Thrones.”—Raj
“He was a jerk because you rear-ended him.”—Leonard
“I was distracted. It’s weird seeing a member of the night’s watch with a kayak strapped to his car.”—Raj
“Oh, uh, I think you made a mistake. I’m not an actor”—Nathan Fillion
“Don’t say that. I mean, youre not Dame Judi Dench, but youre still great.”—Raj
EPISODE RATING: 9/10