The Reclusive Potential Season 11, Episode 20 -  Aired April 12, 2018

The Reclusive Potential

When a reclusive genius, Dr. Wolcott, invites Sheldon to his cabin in the middle of nowhere, Leonard, Howard and Raj go along for the trip. Meanwhile, Penny and Bernadette try to spice things up when Amy finds the bachelorette party they threw her too tame.

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Guest Stars: Peter MacNicol as Doctor Wolcott, James Maslow as Bartender, Edward James Gage as Mailman

Writers: Maria Ferrari (Story), Anthony Del Broccolo (Story), Tara Hernandez (Story), Steve Holland (Teleplay), Eric Kaplan (Teleplay), Adam Faberman (Teleplay)

Director: Mark Cendrowski

Available on iTunes

Episode Notes

  • The title refers to Sheldon meeting the reclusive scientist and genius, Dr. Wolcott, and realizing his life could have gone the same way.

> Sheldon's Knock

When the guys reach the reclusive Dr. Wolcott's cabin, Sheldon does his knock on the cabin door. As they hear him unlatching multiple locks, Howard remarks "That's a lot of locks". Leonard responds, "That was a lot of knocks. They were made for each other".

Episode Quotes

Sheldon: Well, of course I'm worried about you, I want you to be safe.
Amy: And I want you to be safe.
Sheldon: I will be. I'll have my friends with me. If anything should go wrong, I can use them as human shields.

Sheldon: Do you really know how to Riverdance?
Amy: You tell me.
Sheldon: I'm the only man you do that for.

Doctor Wolcott: Yeah, I'm a married man myself.
Leonard: Oh, really? Is she here?
Howard: And alive?
Raj: And can people other than you see her?

Doctor Wolcott: Well, let me show you around. This is the chair where I do most of my thinking, my thinking about work. Now, my thinking about people who have wronged me, I do over there.
Sheldon: I've always said that I should get a grudge chair. Leonard, have I not always said that?
Leonard: Mm, you have, but you were worried you'd spend too much time in it.
Sheldon: Yeah. That is a real concern.

Sheldon: *knock knock knock* Dr. Wolcott? *knock knock knock* Dr. Wolcott? *knock knock knock* Dr. Wolcott? [sound of many locks clacking]
Howard: That's a lot of locks.
Leonard: Mm. That was a lot of knocks, they were made for each other.

News Stories

Title Date Posted
1120 'The Reclusive Potential' Press Release March 23, 2018

CBS has issued the press release for the April 12 episode of The Big Bang Theory, "The Reclusive Potential". Peter MacNicol (Ally McBeal, Numbers) guest stars in the episode.  Full story


As the guys return to the apartment building, Raj is talking about the Hulk’s car insurance, much to Howard’s annoyance. When they reach the lobby, Sheldon is excited to see the mailman. The mailman has something for Sheldon but he can’t just hand it to him, it first has to go into the mailbox. When Raj wonders what’s so exciting, Sheldon explains it’s a letter from a brilliant yet reclusive scientist, Dr. Wolcott, who has invited Sheldon to his cabin in the mountains. Leonard is excited at the prospect of Sheldon spending a weekend in a remote cabin with a crazy person.

As the gang eats dinner in the apartment, Sheldon is busy decoding the letter from Dr. Wolcott to determine the whereabouts of his cabin. Raj thinks the guy seems a little paranoid, but Sheldon disagrees even as he destroys the letter in a burst of flames as instructed. Amy doesn’t want Leonard to let Sheldon go alone, but she can’t take him as it’s her bachelorette party this weekend. After Sheldon asks Leonard to drive him there, Amy insists Leonard should go with Sheldon to make sure he’s safe. Howard also agrees to go keep Leonard safe, and Raj gets in on the action when Bernadette doesn’t want him to try muscle in on their girls’ weekend.

In their bedroom, Amy asks Sheldon if he’s going to be okay over the weekend. He says he will and is more worried about how the girls will behave at her bachelorette party. Amy acknowledges Penny is planning the party, but insists it’ll be fairly low-key. They both say they want each other to be safe over the weekend.

In the car on the way to the cabin, everybody but Sheldon is bored silly by the lecture he has playing on the stereo. When Raj says it’s nice the four of them are out together again as they haven’t taken a trip since Leonard’s bachelor party, Sheldon reminds Leonard to instruct them that it isn’t a bachelor party. Back in the apartment building, Penny and Bernadette guide a blindfolded Amy from her apartment to 4A. When they get her into the apartment and remove the blindfold, she is surprised to see how tame it is; there’s a sewing machine and threads for a quilting bee.

When the guys arrive at Dr. Wolcott’s cabin in the mountains, Raj remarks that it’s creepy, mainly because he’s growing heirloom tomatoes in April. Sheldon sets out some ground rules so they don’t embarrass him in front of the esteemed Dr. Wolcott. After Sheldon knocks on the door, it takes an inordinate amount of time for Dr. Wolcott to unlatch all his locks. Dr. Wolcott is concerned about all the other people, but he’s willing to let them in if Sheldon can vouch for their intellectual vigor.

Inside the cabin, Doctor Wolcott shows them around. Sheldon’s particularly interested in the chair Doctor Wolcott spends his time thinking about those who’ve wronged him. Raj is enthusiastic about the heirloom tomato he’s eating, until Wolcott tells him about his homemade fertilizer. After Sheldon asks the Doctor about his new work on string theory,  Wolcott asks to take everybody’s phones before he will talk about his research. Wolcott then hands Sheldon a notebook which is initially incomprehensible as it’s written backwards with numbers for letters, and vice versa.

Back in the apartment, Amy is busy at the sewing machine and putting on a fake smile for Penny and Bernadette. When things get even more mild as Bernadette serves up tea, Amy explodes and wonders what’s going on. Penny points out that Amy asked for nothing crazy, but Amy says that clearly meant she wanted something crazy. Amy says even though she does like quilting, her bachelorette party is supposed to be wild. When Penny and Bernadette decide they should go somewhere and do shots off topless bartenders, Amy sends a mixed message when she worries if that might be too much.

As Doctor Wolcott writes out his equation on a chalkboard, Sheldon compliments him on his work. Leonard wonders if Doctor Wolcott is really saying time has multiple dimensions like space, while Raj and Howard are mostly confused. When Doctor Wolcott takes Sheldon to see his latest journal, Raj admits he is a brilliant mind although Howard can’t help noticing how weird he is. After Leonard remarks that he could stay up here for months looking at Wolcott’s math, the guys joke that Sheldon might actually do that.

When the girls arrive at a bar, Amy is excited to do a body shot until she finds out what exactly that means. Penny encourages Amy to take it easy as they have all night ahead of them, but when Amy shouts that how she’s getting married, the bartender provides their first round of shots on the house. Twelve minutes later, Amy is passed out at the bar while Penny and Bernadette keep drinking.

Back at the cabin, Sheldon and Doctor Wolcott are talking about how his theory would work in the context of a singularity. When Doctor Wolcott brews a pot of coffee as they have a lot to talk about, Howard jokes that Sheldon said didn’t want a wild bachelor party. After hearing that Sheldon is getting married soon, Doctor Wolcott reveals that he too is a married man. Wolcott says his wife lives in Europe and believes he lives in South America, prompting Sheldon to admit he’s never considered a long distance marriage. Wolcott claims that a great scientist can’t afford to be distracted. After he realizes the guys must be hungry, Doctor Wolcott goes out to hunt for their dinner.

After Wolcott leaves, Sheldon says it’s amazing how much he’s accomplished by being hidden away up here. Leonard worries that Sheldon wants that for himself, but he admits the strange part is that he doesn’t. Howard argues it’s not strange as Sheldon has a full life with friends and a fiancee. Sheldon thanks them for bringing him up here but says he’d like to go home now as he misses Amy, and his phone.

Back in the apartment, Penny and Bernadette are watching TV as Amy wakes up. Amy thinks it’s llame that she passed out on her own bachelorette party, so Penny and Bernadette tell her she had a wild time riverdancing on top of the bar and with shirtless firemen. Elsewhere, Doctor Wolcott returns to his empty cabin with dinner. After he wonders where the guys have gone, he starts questioning whether they were there in the first place.

The next day, Sheldon arrives home to find a hungover Amy attempting to eat some toast for breakfast. When he asks about the bachelorette party, Amy mentions being in a bar and seeing shirtless men. Sheldon asks Amy if she would still love him if he wasn’t who she thought he was. Sheldon says he might not be the single-minded, science-obsessed recluse she fell in love with. After Amy concedes she might not be the straightlaced, buttoned-up, quilting queen he thought she was, they both say they would still love each other. When Amy demonstrates her riverdancing skills for Sheldon, he says he’s the only man she can do that for.