On a very special episode of The Big Bang Theory, Amy (Mayim Bialik) and Sheldon (Jim Parsons) learn what it’s like to fail. 

“The Citation Negation” sees ShAmy in the final phase of preparing their paper on Super Asymmetry for publication. The last step is to track down all of their citations in the library, and it’s such draining busywork that they decide to outsource it to a trusted friend. After Leonard (Johnny Galecki) passes a weak loyalty test (Sheldon pretends to be having an affair, and Leonard keeps the “secret”), he is trusted with the important task. 

Leonard deputizes Raj (Kunal Nayyar), and the two brave the creepy library basement and its asthma-assaulting dust to work their way through the list Amy and Sheldon have provided. Their efforts stall when one article on the list is still in its original Russian, and they turn to Howard (Simon Helberg) to translate. 

Although Howard’s Russian is rusty, he’s able to translate the article well enough to know that it’s about Super Asymmetry, it’s from the 70s and it both beats Sheldon and Amy to the punch and disproves their theory. Howard and Raj elect Leonard to break the bad news to the Coopers, which he does with extreme reluctance.

Leonard visits Amy and Sheldon at home, and he tells them as straightforwardly as possible what they’ve found and what it means. At first it appears that Sheldon is taking the news well, but his facade disintegrates quickly and he smashes a whiteboard to bits before leaving the room screaming. 

Once Leonard leaves, Amy tries to raise Sheldon’s spirits. He doesn’t understand why she isn’t as upset as he is, and she confesses that she’s maintaining her calm for his sake. He tells her that’s making it worse and asks her to be authentic with him. She obliges, expressing her devastation at losing the thing they conceived of at their wedding and have poured the last many months into. 

The next day, neither Sheldon nor Amy goes to work. Leonard and Penny (Kaley Cuoco) stop in to check on them at the end of the day and find them sitting in their living room in the dark, wearing pajamas and eating junk food. Leonard offers them the Thai food he’d brought home for him and Penny, and they leave them to their depression.

Meanwhile, Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) attempts to play Fortnite with Howard and Raj and becomes obsessed with the game when she finds out she’s terrible at it. She starts playing at work, then ropes Denise (Lauren Lapkus) into coaching her. Finally, she’s ready for a rematch with Howard. She takes over for Raj the next time she finds them playing, and although she’s improved, Howard still kills her effortlessly. 

With her competitive side roused and unsatisfied, Bernadette convinces Penny to play with her instead. She wins, which fulfills her need, even though Penny could not care less. 

RELATED: Follow my Season 12 recaps here!

PS. Sometimes I remember this is the last season, and it makes me sad.