*Spoiler warning for The Big Bang Theory season 12, episode 6, “The Imitation Perturbation.”
What would you do if someone dressed and acted like you for Halloween? That’s what Sheldon comes up against this episode when Howard dresses up like him for Halloween. It turns out it’s not so fun for Sheldon to realize how his friends see him. At first Sheldon doesn’t even notice, but when his friend’s point out that the reason Howard’s acting so strangely, is that he’s acting like Sheldon, Sheldon is taken aback. Howard foists unwanted facts on those around him, insists on sitting in his “spot,” and mimics Sheldon’s peculiar speech pattern. He also combs his hair like Sheldon’s, and wears the same kind of clothes that Sheldon typically wears – in this case a short-sleeved Flash t-shirt, over a long-sleeved t-shirt. It’s actually eerie; someone in the cafeteria even mistakes Howard for Sheldon.
When everyone in the Cafeteria starts laughing at Howard’s imitation, Sheldon is hurt that his friends think of him with this much mockery. Amy steps up to bat for her husband and tries to convince Bernadette to get Howard to apologize to Sheldon. Bernadette, listing the many times Sheldon has made fun of Howard, is unmoved. This results in Sheldon and Amy planning some payback at Leonard and Penny’s Halloween party.
While they plan the party, Leonard and Penny start to quibble about when their first kiss was – Leonard insists it was at the Halloween party Penny threw in season one (pssst Leonard’s right), while Penny thinks it was on Leonard’s birthday (also season one). Leonard is hurt that Penny doesn’t remember their first kiss.
At the Halloween party, Sheldon and Amy saunter in, only they’re no longer dressed as Doc Brown and Clara Clayton from Back to the Future … they’re dressed as Howard and Bernadette! Howard, having already done his fair share of making fun of Sheldon earlier that day, shrugs it off, but Bernadette is genuinely hurt by Amy making fun of her voice and how short she is.
After the party is over, Penny confesses to Leonard that she remembers their first kiss on Halloween, but since it was on a night when she was drunk, dating someone else, and only kissed Leonard to make herself feel better, she likes to pretend the one on his birthday was their real first kiss. Leonard, mollified, agrees that the kiss on his birthday could be their official first kiss from now on, and they make up. The show likes to make fun of what a strange match Leonard and Penny are, but sometimes they can be quite adorable.
The next day, Howard begs Sheldon and Amy to apologize to Bernadette. While Amy refuses, Sheldon agrees – surprising since he’s usually the stubborn one. When he tell Bernadette he’s sorry her feelings got hurt, Bernadette reveals how hard it’s been her entire life to be the smallest person in the room with a squeaky voice to match, and how she was bullied as a child for it. That if sometimes, she’s a little harsh, it’s only because she’s trying to get respect. To have those things thrown back in her face by a friend, was very hurtful. Sheldon, having been bullied as a child as well, and having gone to high school at age 9, says that he can relate. Sheldon and Bernadette end up bonding over their similar experiences, in a rare moment of empathy for Sheldon.
There were more than a few cute moments in this episode, and a lot of amazing costumes. Some of the other costumes were Leonard dressed as Inspector Gadget, Penny dressed as a milk maid, Raj dressed as Ruth Bader Ginsburg and his fiance Anu dressed as the Constitution, and Howard and Bernadette dressed as Bert and Mary Poppins (yes, Howard has two costumes this episode). Out of Raj and Anu, Howard and Bernadette, and Sheldon and Amy, it’s hard to tell who had the best couple’s costume, but Bernadette really did look uncanny as Mary Poppins.