“The Reclusive Potential” is maybe the funniest The Big Bang Theory episode this season. It’s bachelorette party time for ShAmy, and OMG the writers nailed it with their ideas.
Apparently, Sheldon (Jim Parsons) has been corresponding with a famed professor so reclusive that his letters are in code and must be destroyed after reading. Dr. Wolcott has some new ideas about time having multiple dimensions, in the same way space does, based on math he invented and wants to share with Sheldon. Together, they might be able to elevate string theory to the next level. Even though Dr. Wolcott has completely withdrawn from society, he invites Sheldon to his mountain cabin for a weekend of math and science.
Since it’s Amy’s (Mayim Bialik) bachelorette party weekend, she isn’t available to chaperone Sheldon’s trip to the sketchy cabin with the paranoid hermit, so the girls compel the guys to go with him and keep him safe. Even though this weekend won’t be the kind of bacchanal Sheldon wouldn’t want anyway, it’ll be a pitch-perfect bachelor party for him.
When they arrive at the cabin, Raj (Kunal Nayyar) is creeped out by the lush heirloom tomatoes growing outside– in April. The season isn’t the reason to worry about these plants, but he’ll learn that soon enough.
Sheldon gives his signature knock to the cabin door, which is greeted by what sounds like a dozen locks being opened. Leonard (Johnny Galecki) sees this as evidence that Sheldon and Dr. Wolcott are made for each other.
The door opens, and it’s Peter MacNicol channeling Boo Radley in a killer guest spot. He reluctantly invites Sheldon’s friends to join them in the cabin, confiscates all of their phones because they’re “little listening devices” that could facilitate stealing his work, then wins Sheldon over by giving him a glimpse at his manually encrypted journals full of time math.
While Sheldon geeks out over Dr. Wolcott’s journals, Raj is going crazy for Wolcott’s tomatoes. They taste so great he can eat them like apples! What’s the secret? Wolcott fertilizes them with his own manure.
As Raj tries not to spew tomato all over the cabin, Howard (Simon Helberg) and Leonard revel in the look on his face. “It’s a sort of grin,” Leonard says. “Do you want to know what kind?”
From there it’s all science, math and space/time, and Sheldon is loving it. When the guys reveal that Sheldon is getting married in a month, they’re surprised to learn that there’s a Mrs. Wolcott– and that she’s alive and other people can see her. Dr. Wolcott explains that she lives in Europe and their relationship is based on giving each other space for their work and semi-regular birthday cards. Then he goes out to shoot a squirrel for dinner, which he plans to pass off as rabbit.
As soon as he leaves, Sheldon muses aloud that he can’t believe he isn’t envious of Wolcott’s life. It seems so cool and perfect to be cut off from the distractions present in normal life and able to focus completely on work, but Sheldon isn’t wishing he had it. Instead he’s missing Amy… and his phone. Also, he’s from Texas and can taste the difference between squirrel and rabbit, so he makes the call that they’ll leave immediately.
When Wolcott returns, he can’t believe they left without saying goodbye… or is it that in his non-linear understanding of time they just haven’t arrived yet? It could be either, so he starts tidying up in case it’s the latter.
Back home, Penny (Kaley Cuoco) and Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) surprise Amy with what they think will be the ideal bachelorette party: a quilting bee / tea party at Penny’s apartment. Even though Amy loves quilting, because it is the “slowest way to make a blanket,” she’d expected to be finding out what body shots were while making bad, alcohol-fueled decisions.
Penny and Bernadette adapt once they know this and take Amy to a bar, where she lasts for 12 minutes of doing shots before passing out. When she comes to in Penny’s apartment later, her friends assure her that she’s forgotten how crazy she got– river dancing on the bar in front of shirtless firemen and whatnot. They claim there are no photos, but that they’d be crazy if there were, and this makes Amy happy. (There are photos, but they’re all selfies of Bernie and Penny posing with passed-out Amy and nary a fireman to be seen.)
The next morning, a hung-over Amy and humble Sheldon are reunited when he gets home. He asks if she’d still love him if he weren’t the single-minded scientist she fell in love with, and she asks if he still loves her despite her being a river dancing fool. The answer is a mutual yes, which they seal with a sweet kiss before he asks for a display of her river dancing.
Then Mayim Bialik gets up, wearing Amy’s giant flannel nightgown and dark socks, and Michael Flatley she is not. Definitely the level of river dance I could achieve, and a genius bit of physical comedy. It seems like she wins the scene with her commitment to character until Jim Parsons delivers the mic drop line, “I’m the only man you do that for.”
Another spot-on exchange, between Sheldon and Leonard in the car on their way to the cabin when Raj and Howard comment on this being Sheldon’s bachelor party.
Leonard: As Sheldon’s best man, I need to inform you that this is not a bachelor party.
Sheldon: And tell them why…
Leonard: Because you’re a tiresome scold.
Sheldon: No! It’s because the bachelor party is typically a hedonistic blow-out where no pleasures of the flesh are denied. I’m not interested in that.
Leonard: How is that not exactly what I said?
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