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Worldly Distractions: The Big Bang Theory 8.14 - The Troll Manifestation






Hey hey and welcome back! I am coughing and sneezing and way too overworked, so this is a perfect excuse to hide from everyone for a while. Don't disappoint me, nerds.

Penny asks to hear about Leonard's day, surprising him with her knowledge of the ins and outs of physics, most of which she has cribbed from her friend group. In fact, she's very driven in her half-assed appreciation. Suddenly, he stops. He's come up with a big theory! About surface tension and superfluid helium. He leaves dinner with his fiancee and goes to consult Sheldon. Shockingly, Sheldon is convinced by it. Leonard even gets a kitty sticker for excellence. The two of them immediately get to work. Opening credits.

Sheldon works late into the night on this cool new theory, writing an entire paper like it's no big deal (and taking most of the credit). They realize that they really have something. Sheldon proposes that they post it on the pre-print server. After a moment's consideration and a deep breath, they go for it.

While the guys do all the big science, the girls get drunk and watch movies, because that's the way the Chuck Lorre universe rolls. They watch Penny's old shameful gorilla movie, trying to convince her that it will be okay. It isn't.

Sheldon and Leonard play with superfluid helium. Howard tells them that the paper has taken off and is generally well-received. The two compliment each other extravagantly while Raj and Howard roll their eyes. Unfortunately, the celebration is tempered when they discover a negative comment. They don't know who it is, and they are pissed. Sheldon wants to troll them back. Leonard tries to stop him, but another negative comment destroys all his objections. They immediately come up with a bunch of creative insults.

The movie continues to be awful, but hilarious. It's kind of The Room of horror movies. Penny gets her revenge by finding one of Bernadette's old pageant videos. The microbiologist is humiliated. Her friends tease her mercilessly about being dressed like a cupcake. (Side note: if Melissa Rauch can sing at all, she needs to play G(a)linda in Wicked at some point. Just saying.)

The troll criticizes both the paper and Sheldon and Leonard's mommas, so the war is on. Bernadette, angry about the pageant revelation, reveals that Amy writes Little House on the Prairie fanfiction about herself and a thinly disguised Sheldon. Despite Amy's protests, the other two look it up. It's predictably horrendous, just like most fanfiction hanging around the interwebs. Also like most fanfiction, it's filled with gratuitous awkward sex.

Sheldon hangs out on the computer all night waiting for a reply. Raj has created a whole bunch of outrageous, stereotyped accounts to support the paper. The troll ups his game, this time criticizing Cal Tech. Raj urges Sheldon to forget it. This has no effect whatsoever. He challenges the troll to meet him for a real fight. Immediately, his Skype lights up. Sheldon gasps and slams his computer shut.

Amy's male protagonist is just as rude as Sheldon, pretty much so "Amelia" can change him. Penny reads the rest of the fanfiction, which becomes surprisingly sweet if a little awkward. The guys wonder about meanness on the Internet, speculating as to its causes. Raj says that Sheldon and Leonard have accomplished something and should be proud. Inspired, Sheldon decides to Skype the guy back - and HOLY SHIT IT'S STEPHEN HAWKING.

Okay, he's been on before, but it's still cool. Hawking explains that he actually liked the paper, but he trolled because he was bored. He then leaves to help a neighbour with his math homework. The trolling is forgotten, and the scientist's rejoice.

In the fanfiction, "Cooper" the scientist has to time travel back to the modern day, and the story is drawing to a sad ending. Amy is increasingly impatient about it, begging her friends to stop. She grabs the tablet and reads the story herself, giving it unexpected depth of emotion. Never fear, people! Cooper is just about to kiss Amelia goodbye. Leonard bursts in with news about Hawking, but the girls yell at him to get out.

At the end, we get a scene from Amy's fanfiction, re-enacted by Parsons and Bialik. "Amelia" gives "Cooper" a bath in a 19th-century farmhouse. It's revealed that Penny and Leonard are reading this in bed. They think it's weird, but keep going on - until a sex scene is imminent, of course. End credits.

First of all [obligatory squeal about Stephen Hawking here]. What I really enjoyed about this episode was the genuine camaraderie between Sheldon and Leonard (and Howard and Raj to a lesser extent), something which seems to have been suffering as of late. The show kind of forgets that through all the teasing they really are friends. Tonight, that shone through. Amy's fanfiction was quite hilarious, as was Bernadette's pageant history - though one thing that bothered me is that the women rarely have anything substantial to do. Think about it, wouldn't you love Bernadette or Amy to come up with a huge scientific achievement, or for Penny to climb the ladder in the pharmaceutical industry? This show has never been anything particularly innovative, but it's never too late to start.

On another note, it's interesting that both stories concerned weird corners of the Internet (fanfic, trolls), though I found it a little hard to believe that the guys would be so shocked to be trolled. I mean, they've probably been on the Internet longer than most of the people reading this recap. The fanfic section did feel quite true, though, probably because I've seen hundreds of variations of Amy's story through various fandoms. Overall, tonight's story had heart and a few good laughs. It wasn't brilliant, but it did have one scene of genius. (Sorry, sorry, okay not sorry.) See you next week!


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