The Big Bang Theory’s “The VCR Illumination” Gives Inspiration

*Spoiler warning for The Big Bang Theory, season 12, episode 10.

Viking funeral on the Big Bang Theory
Leonard, Penny, Amy, and Sheldon have a Viking funeral for Sheldon and Amy’s paper on The Big Bang Theory. Photo courtesy of CBS, screenshot by Linda Maleh.

It was really disappointing last episode when Sheldon and Amy find out that the paper they were writing had already been disproven, so this episode was a breath of fresh air. Much of the episode is spent with the various characters trying to cheer Sheldon up, but in the end, advice and wisdom come from an unlikely source.

After Sheldon starts to revaluate everything in his life, Leonard decides to bring out the big guns – a VHS tape on which Sheldon recorded as a young child a pep talk should the day come when nothing made sense anymore (i.e. the day they should stop making Star Wars movies). Young Sheldon fans will love this cameo, as well one later in the episode. Unfortunately, just as it seems young Sheldon is about to say something important and inspiring, the tape cuts to a high school football game that his father must’ve taped over the original message.

After this failure, Penny and Leonard turn to Leonard’s mother for advice, since she’s a psychologist and Sheldon’s friend. She advises that they have a funeral for the paper, since Sheldon is clearly grieving its death. Sheldon, being Sheldon, decides on a Viking funeral, where the Vikings put the dead on a boat, push it off into the sea, and burn it using a flaming arrow fired at the boat – or in this case, the paper in a cake pan in the bath tub lit on fire with a match. Things go awry when the shower curtain accidentally gets lit on fire and they have to put it out with bathwater.

In the end, Amy decides to go back to the tape and see if there’s anything left of young Sheldon’s speech (which Sheldon remembers word for word anyway). What she ends up finding is a speech his father (the other Young Sheldon cameo this episode) gave to his team in the locker room during half-time, knowing that they’re going to lose, but trying to inspire the team to keep going anyway. He talks about how you learn more from failure than you do from success, not giving up. Sheldon takes these words to heart – and makes his first ever sports analogy – “I’ve been acting like the game is over, but it’s only half time, and there’s a lot more physics left to play.” As he wonders if he and his father’s lives were more similar than he thought, Amy is inspired and has a different perspective on their theory. Sheldon and Amy soon realize their theory isn’t wrong, it’s just a lot larger and more in depth than they realized. Hallelujah! The theory lives!

The other plot-line of the episode is rather less exciting. Bernadette realizes that Howard gave up a dream to join an elite society of magicians. She tries to get him to reapply, and decides to “pageant mom” him. It quickly becomes less about magic, and more about singing and dancing – as one might do at a pageant. Howard finally stands up to Bernadette and says that he needs to do this his way. Unfortunately, his way means smashing up a guy’s Rolex in front of the committee, and whereas the magic trick would have been that the watch is magically okay, the watch is irrevocably broken. Howard should probably stick to pulling coins out of people’s ears.

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Author: Linda Maleh

Entertainment writer, feminist, and New York City native. Personal blog is tvtotalkabout.com.

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