While I may not have been particularly enthusiastic about The Big Bang Theory’s wedding premiere, I have to admit the writing has remained fairly good this season as a whole, which is refreshing after it felt like it began to decline the past few. Penny and Leonard quickly worked out their marital differences and the subject of Leonard moving out to live with Penny was tackled in a humorous way.
The break-up of Sheldon and Amy has had many ups and downs, and there have been several memorable guest stars thus far. But the best guest to ever appear on The Big Bang Theory is without a doubt Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Wil Wheaton, and this season’s offering with Wheaton (“The Spock Resonance”) revealed some character growth in the most unexpected of places.
Sheldon receives an email from Wheaton explaining that Leonard Nimoy’s son, Adam, is working on a documentary (or “Spockumentary”) about the character of Spock and his impact on popular culture. He began working on it with his father shortly before his death and is seeking to finish it to honor his father’s memory. Wheaton told Adam that Sheldon would be a perfect fit for it, as Sheldon is a lifelong Spock fan and would surely prove to be an interesting interview. (Nimoy is actually producing a documentary about his father and Spock called For the Love of Spock.)
It’s easy to understand why Sheldon would idolize Spock, for in his own words, Spock represents “the dream of a cold, rational world entirely without human emotion.” A world governed by logic must have seemed like a wondrous place to a frightened, intelligent little boy who was often terrorized by bullies, including his brother. Sheldon used the phrase “What Would Spock Do?” as a coping mechanism to deal with life’s problems. He has spent his entire lifetime trying to emulate Spock and rise above human emotion. However, when Penny asks to see what else besides the napkin with Spock’s DNA is kept inside his wall safe, Sheldon gets uncharacteristically emotional when he has to explain that one of the valuables is the engagement ring he was going to give to Amy Fowler shortly before they broke up.
Sheldon is visibly agitated and upset – to the point of raising his voice and creating an entire emotional scene – when it comes to anything pertaining to Amy and the break-up. As Penny observes, Sheldon pretends to not have emotions and to be all logical, all the time, but really deep down that isn’t entirely true. Just as Spock himself was half-human and sometimes struggled to understand the non-logical side of his brain, it so too seems that Sheldon Cooper has a softer, more emotional side.
The episode made me see him in a whole new light, which is really the best gift any writing team can bestow upon a loyal fan. To be able to take an established character such as Sheldon with all of his quirks and annoying little habits, and make me see and care about him in a way that I hadn’t before is no easy feat, especially after nine seasons. I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Sheldon Cooper, but to see him capable of expressing love, pain, anguish and desire when he used to be more of an empty vessel is fascinating.
Jim Parsons has always played the character so remarkably well, but it’s rewarding to see Sheldon experiencing such tremendous character growth lately. I look forward to seeing how the rest of this season plays out. Sheldon was on his way to propose to Amy by the end of the episode, but he caught sight of her on a date, kissing another man goodbye at her building’s door. My heart broke more than a little for him, as he turned and walked quickly away before she could catch sight of him. I’m convinced there is no fate worse in life than unrequited love or someone not understanding or reciprocating your emotions in the way that you need them. I wanted to hit Amy over the head with something and shout, “Look at Sheldon! He’s trying really hard to be what you wanted all these years!”
Another character on The Big Bang Theory who is also experiencing tremendous character growth this season is Howard Wolowitz. He apparently wants to have children with his wife, Bernadette, but she remains undecided on the subject. It seems he wants to be the father he never had. I think it’s highly likely the couple will eventually conceive a child, and that might also be something refreshing to see on the show. My favorite kid-at-heart nerds are growing up! When did this happen exactly?