The Retraction Reaction Season 11, Episode 2 -  Aired October 2, 2017

The Retraction Reaction

Leonard fears for his job when he gives a downbeat assessment of the state of physics research in a national radio interview. Meanwhile, Amy and Bernadette realize they both feel they have to hide success in their careers from their significant others.

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Guest Stars: Regina King as Mrs. Davis, Ira Flatow as Himself

Writers: Steven Molaro (Story), Steve Holland (Story), Maria Ferrari (Story), Dave Goetsch (Teleplay), Eric Kaplan (Teleplay), Anthony Del Broccolo (Teleplay)

Director: Mark Cendrowski

Viewers: 14.06 million Adults 18-49 Rating: 3.2/12

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Episode Notes

  • The title refers to the guys' reaction to Leonard having to issue a retraction after he spoke candidly on the radio about the lack of tangible results from recent physics research.

Episode Quotes

Leonard: Oh, hi, you wanted to see me?
Ms. Davis: Yes. I wanted to talk to you about the e-mail you sent me last night.
Leonard: I sent you an e-mail?
Ms. Davis: You bet you did. "Hello. Shalom and aloha from the grave of Richard Feynman."
Leonard: (groans) Oh, it's coming back to me.
Ms. Davis: "Please accept the following retraction: I know I said physics is dead, but it is the opposite of dead. If anything, it is undead, like a zombie. Speaking of which, if Richard Feynman came back as a zombie, I would totally let him bite me."
Leonard: Any chance that's the end?
Ms. Davis: "I got bit by a squirrel once. I had to get rabies shots. I cried so much, my mother said 'don't be a baby'. In conclusion, physics is great. Squirrels suck, and someday, I'm gonna put my mom in a cheap nursing home. Yours truly, XOXO, Dr. Leonard Hofstadter."
Leonard: I-I-I can explain.
Ms. Davis: "P.S Can you come pick us up? The Uber driver won't open the door because Sheldon is covered in blue vomit."

Bernadette: At the office, I have two assistants! I don't even know their names. I just call them Thing 1 and Thing 2.
Amy: I don't have assistants.
Bernadette: I guess that's one of the benefits of being in the private sector. That and all the money I make!

Howard: We're going to see Richard Feynman. Penny, Richard Feynman is an iconic phys-
Penny: I know who he is. Leonard dressed as him for Halloween last year.

Amy: The university has been throwing money at my study. With any luck, there'll be a brain disease with my name on it.
Bernadette: Fingers crossed.
Amy: Which is ironic, because if you had Fowler's palsy, you wouldn't be able to cross your fingers.

Bernadette: Should he be saying that?
Raj: Uh, probably not.
Howard: Yeah, this is public radio. Doesn't he realize that dozens of people might hear him?

News Stories

Title Date Posted
1102 'The Retraction Reaction' Press Release September 8, 2017

CBS has issued the press release for the second episode of The Big Bang Theory's upcoming eleventh season, "The Retraction Reaction", which airs Monday, October 2.  Full story


As the group eat dinner in the apartment, Sheldon points out that there is only one dumpling left. After Amy suggests he offer it to the pregnant lady, Sheldon remarks that he has learned better than to assume a woman is pregnant. When Bernadette officially tells him she is pregnant, he congratulates her. As Sheldon risks infuriating his pregnant wife, Howard tries to change the subject. Leonard tells the group he is going to be interviewed on public radio to talk up physics research for the university.

In a radio studio, Leonard is being interviewed on Science Friday by Ira Flatow, as Sheldon, Penny and Amy stream the show on Sheldon’s laptop in the apartment and Raj joins Howard and Bernadette in their kitchen as they listen to the broadcast. Ira Flatow points out that it has been five years since the discovery of the Higgs Boson and asks what the next big thing will be. Leonard answers that it’s hard to say as they’ve been collecting tons of data on numerous potential discoveries. When he’s asked if they have found these breakthrough particles, Leonard says they haven’t actually found any of them yet. Leonard’s friends are concerned that he’s talking so candidly about the field’s setbacks, but are reassured as he seems to move back onto more optimistic ground by saying he remains confident they’ve got the best equipment and minds working on the research. Leonard then caps the interview off by mentioning how exasperated he feels when he thinks about all the money spent on fruitless research.

Sheldon, Howard and Raj are eating lunch in the university cafeteria as they see a sullen Leonard pay for his food. They realize Leonard will be having a rough day, so Howard and Raj want to be supportive, but Sheldon is still mad that Leonard dissed his lady - Lady Physics. Sheldon is rude to Leonard when he sits down, but Leonard defends himself by saying he was only speaking the truth. When Leonard wants to change the subject and have lunch like adults, Raj and Howard agree but Sheldon is still scornful of Leonard.

As Amy unboxes equipment in her new, high-tech lab, Bernadette stops by to go out for lunch and is impressed by Amy’s new stuff. When Bernadette wonders why Sheldon is not there playing with all her new toys, Amy admits she has been keeping it from him as her (and her field’s) success bothers him. Bernadette admits she has been doing the same with Howard.

When Leonard arrives at Mrs. Davis’s office, he admits he is nervous at “being called into the dean’s office”, and Ms. Davis tells him he should be. Leonard admits he screwed up and apologizes for the bad interview, but wonders how much damage it could have caused. Ms. Davis reads off some emails she got from donors wondering why they were giving so much money to physics if it’s a dead-end. After Leonard asks what he can do to fix this, Ms. Davis tells him she wants him to make a statement saying he misspoke and is confident that the physics community is close to a major breakthrough.

In Apartment 4B, Sheldon is staring at a number of whiteboards contemplating physics problems. When Amy arrives home, Sheldon tells her he has figured out the biggest problems in physics today. Amy is surprised that Sheldon has solved them all, but he explains that he has only identified that they are indeed the biggest problems. After Amy wonders if this is about what Leonard said on the radio, Sheldon snaps that he doesn’t want to talk about Leonard. Amy tries to tell Sheldon about the new equipment she got for her lab, but Sheldon instead starts to talk about his new marker pens.

Back in Apartment 4A, Penny pours Leonard a glass of wine to cheer him up after his rough day. When Leonard says it feels like high school all over again with everybody ignoring him, Penny is excited at the prospect of doing high school again. When Leonard explains that he could lose his job unless he writes a retraction that he doesn’t believe in, Penny decides to leave him to write the letter.

Leonard goes over to Apartment 4B to ask for Sheldon’s help on the retraction, since Sheldon doesn’t believe physics is dead. Sheldon explains that after focusing on physics’ biggest problems this afternoon, he is no longer so confident a breakthrough is coming. Later, Sheldon asks Leonard to read back the retraction they’ve worked up together, but it’s hardly inspiring. When Leonard feels depressed and asks Sheldon if there’s any alcohol, Sheldon explains that Penny took all the alcohol with her when she moved out, but he does have some romulan ale. After Penny comes over to find out why Leonard hadn’t returned yet, Leonard admits they’re both depressed and decided to drown their sorrows.

As Bernadette pours Amy a drink in her kitchen, Amy tells Bernadette how Sheldon got more and more pissed off as she talked about her lab’s new equipment. Bernadette says as a successful woman she should be able to brag about her accomplishments once in a while, and Amy thinks Bernadette should too. They realize they can brag to each other, so they start talking about their successful careers. The pair soon get competitive and start questioning each other’s morals and success.

Back in Apartment 4B, Penny joins Sheldon and Leonard in drinking the romulan ale. As Penny tries to cheer Sheldon and Leonard up, Howard and Raj arrive for support. Penny asks Howard and Raj to try cheer them up, but when Raj accuses Sheldon and Leonard of acting like two babies, Howard gets depressed about his impending fatherhood and Raj gets upset because doesn’t have anybody in his life. Meanwhile, Amy and Bernadette are still bickering over whose career has more value.

Penny tells the guys that enough is enough and orders them to get up and get inspired. Howard says he knows where they need to go: Richard Feynman’s grave. Later, the gang arrive at Feynman’s grave, and discuss how great Feynman was and how he didn’t do physics for the glory or the awards, but for the fun of it. Leonard realizes physics is only dead when they stop believing in it. After the guys have a drink to toast the scientists who came before them, Sheldon throws up the blue ale.

The next day, Leonard goes to Mrs. Davis’s office after she asked to see him again. She reads Leonard the embarrassing email he sent her the night before when they were at Richard Feynman’s grave. The email ended with a request for her to pick them up as the Uber driver wouldn’t open the door because Sheldon was covered in blue vomit.