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Worldly Distractions: The Big Bang Theory 8.13 - The Anxiety Optimization




No, I could not resist this picture of cat-Richard Feynman. After too long a hiatus, we are back in nerd country. Enjoy it!

Penny and Sheldon go out on a date, but Sheldon asks him to help test out some noise-cancelling headphones first. The couple lobs insults his way until they're satisfied he can't hear. Sheldon explains he's trying to minimize distraction for the benefit of his work, blocking out his senses at all costs. When they're gone, he begins his work on proton decay - but finds he's drawing a blank. Penny and Leonard, back from their date, roll their eyes. Opening credits.

The next day, bummed about his work, Sheldon refuses to go to the university. Leonard accuses him of sulking. Stir-crazy, Sheldon goes for a walk - only as far as the hallway. He hears Penny doing some very loud workouts. She tells him that unpleasantness is a huge part of why she keeps exercising, as she feels more accomplished the worse it is. Lightbulb.

Howard invents a new game called "Emily or Cinnamon?", where the players have to guess whether Raj's comment was about...well, Emily or Cinnamon. Raj takes exception to this, but the others are having way too much fun. Sheldon shows up after all, claiming he's found the secret to his physicists' block. He needs to make his environment less pleasant, and the others all have to help. Needless to say, they're thrilled.

Amy conducts a series of neurological tests to measure Sheldon's optimum anxiety level, treating him more or less like the mice in her lab. She keeps irritating him with various stimuli, including rubbing a balloon next to his ear, but this only causes him to freak out. Sheldon reaches his optimum anxiety, which he is very pleased about - but this causes it to drop, which freaks him out, and soon he is trapped in a vicious yo-yo.

While the others play "Emily or Cinnamon?", Sheldon tells them of how successful his mission was. The guys, of course, tease him into a frenzy, which was the exact effect he needed. And if this sounds like it's getting tiresome and repetitive, well, it is.

Penny is in a sales competition at work, for which the prize is a trip for two to Hawaii. She's debating who to take, since none of her options are that much fun. Sheldon has decided that he needs to have an evening of "girl talk" to become uncomfortable, and asks the women to talk about their periods. Unfortunately, this devolves into a "Can werewolves swim?" discussion. And I can't mention werewolves, ever, without this.


Sheldon plays sounds of various comic book villains, with what looks like underwear on his head (it's brain monitors, but it sure looks like underwear), in order to increase his lack of comfort. He also wears the brain monitors on his date night with Amy. Amy confesses that she is worried about him, since he's starting to fall apart. Of course, Sheldon thinks falling apart is great.

"Emily or Cinnamon" continues. And yeah, it is a great game, especially when you see Raj's reaction. They discuss Sheldon's new kick, and though they agree he's getting his work done, they're getting increasingly annoyed with his bizarre behaviour. Then they go back to the game. Meanwhile, Amy is getting frustrated with Sheldon's constant work talk, and finally demands that he stop. She impassionedly tells him that his brilliance is innate, not from a dumb system, and asks that he remove his cap. Cut to Sheldon on a bus telling a stranger why his girlfriend threw him out. By this point, he's hallucinating armadillos, so it's safe to say he needs to give up.

Leonard and Penny escort Sheldon to bed, telling him that the President of Science is waiting. Sheldon is so far gone that he believes this. They encourage him to make himself comfortable, despite his protests. Penny sings him "Soft Kitty" (Leonard helps) and he's a goner. After he's out, Leonard and Penny discuss smothering him.

At lunch the next day, Sheldon is in much better shape and getting work done. Raj brings Emily to lunch, where she tells them how sexy she thinks his sensitivity can be. She plants a kiss on him - and comes up with a mouthful of dog hair. Charming.

So, yeah, this episode was pretty thin. And repetitive. There wasn't a lot of character development, and to be honest not much that was funny, except for "Emily or Cinnamon", which definitely had its moments. It's safe to say this week was a bit of a snoozer. Oh well. Next week, guys, next week.

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