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Worldly Distractions: The Big Bang Theory 7.22 - The Proton Transmogrification





I was told this was the season finale. Someone has lied to me. Someone must pay. But first, the recap.

The boys are planning their activities for May the Fourth, commonly known as Star Wars Day. Much to their exasperation, Penny has never heard of it, and in fact finds it weird. Opening credits. Yeah, that wasn't much to go on.

Leonard arrives in Sheldon's room in the middle of the night. No, it's not "the episode where they finally kiss". Sheldon babbles about May 4th, but Leonard seems way too solemn to be planning festivities. And he does, indeed, have bad news - Arthur Jeffries AKA Professor Proton AKA Bob Newhart has died. The audience "awws", and so do I, readers. "Professor Proton is dead?" Sheldon asks. Upon receiving confirmation, he stares into space, but then Leonard tries to hug him and it's just awkward. Someone get him a hot beverage. Sheldon is further distressed to learn that the funeral is on Star Wars Day. However, he insists he's fine.

So the grieving Sheldon spends his time watching Professor Proton videos. Amy is there in his time of need, and suggests that she come to the funeral with him. Not because of Star Wars, but because of his germ phobia. Amy is horrified, thinking he needs to say goodbye to his reluctant friend. She can't understand how movies could be more special. Sheldon treats her concern as beneath consideration.

May the 4th arrives to find Raj and Howard celebrating, Leonard and Penny off to the funeral, and Sheldon surprisingly quiet and withdrawn. Penny suggests one more time that he join them, but he insists that it makes no difference to mourn when the dead person can't appreciate it. Penny continues to be Flanderized as hell, acting like a total diva over a few sci-fi references. When did she get so tiresome?

Bernadette and Amy make a Death Star cake and discuss their love lives. Unfortunately, the cake is a perfect sphere, and promptly rolls to the floor. How can two people with doctorates not think of this?

At the service, Penny admits that she's never been to a funeral before. She thinks she might cry, but has trouble getting started, so she suggests that Leonard help, since he's a "crybaby". Charming. Leonard, you could do so much better. Leonard talks about what Arthur meant to him, and sure enough, he tears up in moments - and so does Penny. The entire moment comes off as beautifully sincere. Even if Penny does use it for another snide remark.

The guys prepare their movie marathon, though Howard suggests skipping Phantom Menace because it sucks. Sheldon considers this blasphemous. Raj suggests they try a new order: 4-5-2-3-6, skipping the first movie and treating the second and third as flashback. Sheldon also can't handle this, and launches into an enormous rant which culminates in him fleeing to his room. Raj and Howard debate going after him, but in the end Star Wars sucks them in.

Lying on his bed, Sheldon dreams of Arthur appearing in the apartment. Audience cheer for Bob Newhart, which is so tacky, you guys. Still, I'm glad to see him. Sheldon gleefully declares that Arthur has come to be his "Obi-Wan", which Arthur doesn't get. After a quick moment of disbelief/explanation, they move on, though Sheldon's subconscious takes the time to costume Arthur appropriately. I never thought I'd see Bob Newhart play with a lightsaber. Apparently Lucasfilm was in on this, and it shows.

Leaving the funeral, Penny and Leonard slip into conversation about mortality, as tends to happen with these events. This involves discussing their hopes and dreams and regrets. He mentions he regrets turning down her proposal a few episodes back. Penny realizes what he's about to do and, thankfully, nips it in the bud. Time and place, buddy. They start to argue about who proposed to whom how many times. It ends with Penny proposing a second time to even the score. Leonard hemms and hawws just to mess with her.

As they repair the Death Star, Amy and Bernadette talk about how they got into science, as Sheldon was inspired by Professor Proton. Bernadette wanted to invent a formula to make herself taller. Amy was spurred to research thanks to her overprotective mother, who feared her daughter turning into a whore - which prompted young Amy to try to learn about whores from a biology book. Not, you know, a dictionary.

In the car on the way home, Leonard is still indecisive on purpose. Eventually Penny gets fed up with his nonsense, asks again and tells him to do what he wants. He turns her down, much to her relief. Then just to mess with her, he launches into the second proposal...

The dream continues, with the two of them at Yoda's swamp. Sheldon suggests that this setting would be perfect to get some advice - and not Arthur's first suggestion, "Always get a prenup". Sheldon admits that he's having a hard time, since Professor Proton was the last male role model in his life. Arthur advises him to appreciate the loved ones he still has. Just then, he is woken up when Leonard knocks on his door. Leonard starts to tell him about the funeral, but before he can finish, Sheldon leaps forward and hugs him. It's lovely.

Leonard suggests that they join the marathon, now on Return of the Jedi, and Sheldon happily agrees - as long as they start over from the first movie. Cue the group sitting through The Phantom Menace. Bernadette and Amy arrive with cake. The former comments on how baking the cake meant they missed the movies, to which Howard cheerfully informs her that they started over. She demonstrates an impressive bitchface.

Tag scene: late into the night, they're still watching. Sheldon falls asleep, and Proton appears in his dream. Apparently, he's stuck being Sheldon's Obi-Wan forever. He's not thrilled.

Endless Leonard-Penny meandering aside, tonight was primarily about the bond between friends, and the things that bring them together - science, Star Wars, a good glass of wine. I think we've all noticed, at some time, a greater appreciation of what we have when we lose an important part of our lives. It was great to have Newhart back, but best of all, it was great to see Sheldon take yet another step forward.

Also, this was TOTALLY supposed to be the finale. Sigh.

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