The VCR Illumination Season 12, Episode 10 -  Aired December 6, 2018

The VCR Illumination

With Sheldon and Amy down in the dumps after their theory was disproved, Leonard retrieves an old VHS recording to cheer him up. Meanwhile, an old video of Howard as an aspiring magician leads Bernadette to act as his "pageant mom" and coach him for his Magic Castle audition.

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Guest Stars: Christine Baranski as Beverly Hofstadter, Iain Armitage as Young Sheldon, Lance Barber as George Sr., Montana Jordan as Georgie, Kurt Scholler as Judge

Writers: Steve Holland (Story), Steven Molaro (Story), Bill Prady (Story), Maria Ferrari (Teleplay), Andy Gordon (Teleplay), Jeremy Howe (Teleplay)

Director: Mark Cendrowski

Available on iTunes

Episode Notes

  • The title refers to Sheldon being inspired by a video tape he recorded as a child.

> Fun with Flags

When Amy returns home to the apartment, a depressed Sheldon has set the stage for a muted "Fun with Flags". After re-evaluating his long-held opinions, Sheldon is now only "Fine with Flags".

Amy: 'Fine with Flags'?
Sheldon: Yes, flags, up there flapping around on poles. If you think about it, they're just the strippers of the emblem world.

Episode Quotes

Leonard: I have something that might help. It's-it's a recording of the only person whose opinion Sheldon actually respects.
Amy: Hawking? Feynman?
Leonard: No, himself.

Leonard: It's a pep talk he made when he was a kid. He gave it to me years ago and told me to save it for a real emergency.
Penny: What? You didn't break it out when he declared his room a sovereign nation and waged a trade war against us?
Leonard: His major export is talking. I didn't want that anyway.

Amy: Hey.
Sheldon: Hello.
Amy: "Fine with flags"?
Sheldon: Yes, flags, up there flapping around on poles. If you think about it, they're just the strippers of the emblem world.

Amy: Okay, all hooked up. Here we go. Oh, look how cute you were!
Sheldon: Amy, please, of course I was cute. Look how I turned out.

Beverly Hofstadter: Yes?
Leonard: Hello, Mother.
Penny: Hey, Beverly.
Beverly Hofstadter: Hello, Leonard. Hello, Penny. To what do I owe this call?
Leonard: I need your professional advice.
Beverly Hofstadter: Well, I'd love to help you out, dear, but I'm very busy at the moment. Perhaps we can schedule a time next week.
Penny: It's about Sheldon.
Beverly Hofstadter: Oh, well, I-I suppose I can spare a minute or two.
Leonard: Wh-Why did you just say you're too busy, but-
Beverly Hofstadter: Leonard, please, not everything is about you.

Recap

Before Sheldon and Amy arrive at the apartment, Penny tells the assembled group that Sheldon and Amy are still upset about their paper being disproved so she and Leonard have made a list of subjects to avoid in their company. When Sheldon and Amy arrive, she asks Bernadette what they’re doing. Bernadette’s reply that they’re doing “nothing” reminds Sheldon that his career has amounted to nothing, prompting him to storm out.

When Amy rolls over in bed and realizes Sheldon isn’t next to her, she gets up and goes into the living room, where she finds Sheldon eating, reading, watching television and listening to the radio. Amy is surprised he’s eating asparagus since he hates it, but Sheldon says he thought super asymmetry was a good idea and now wonders what else he was wrong about. Taking inspiration from René Descartes, he is reexamining every view he ever held as he’s unsure whether he can trust his instincts any more. Amy argues that just because their theory was wrong, it doesn’t mean he’s wrong about everything.

When Penny goes into the living room, Leonard proudly tells her he’s eating chicken fried steak, which Penny doesn’t think is an appropriate breakfast. Amy comes over to say she’s really worried about Sheldon as she’s never seen him this down. Amy is afraid that now Sheldon is rethinking everything, he’ll eventually reconsider his relationship with her. Leonard tells her he has something that might help, a recording of the only person whose opinion Sheldon actually respects: himself. It’s a pep talk Sheldon made as a kid, which he asked Leonard to save for a real emergency.

In Howard and Bernadette’s living room, Howard is checking the VCR player still works as Amy asked to borrow it. Bernadette wonders what’s on the tape. When the video starts up, it’s a young Howard as “the Great Howdini” practicing for his audition to be a member of the Magic Castle. He never went ahead with the audition after seeing how bad he was on tape. Bernadette reassures him he’s a great magician and thinks he should audition now, but Howard unconvincingly insists he doesn’t need to be a member of the most elite magical society. Bernadette doesn’t want their kids to see the tape one day and think their dad was a quitter.

When Amy returns home with the VCR tape and player, Sheldon has assembled the set for “Fun with Flags”, although he’s reconsidered his opinion of flags and the show is now titled “Fine with Flags”. Amy tells him she’s got something that might cheer him up, the emergency pep talk he made when he was a kid. When the video starts playing, Amy is amazed at how cute Sheldon was. Unfortunately, when Young Sheldon gets down to the business of the pep talk, the video has been taped over with footage of a high school football match. Upset that his father taped over his message, Sheldon declares that nothing matters any more.

After Howard walks into his living room, he is surprised to find Bernadette has retrieved all his old magic tricks in from garage. When she tells Howard he deserves to be a member of the Magic Castle, he thinks that’s sweet but he claims he has outgrown magic. Bernadette tells Howard her experience in beauty pageants will help her coach him through his audition. Howard points out that Bernadette hated her mother for putting her through that, but she now seems keen to be a beauty pageant mom.

In the apartment, Leonard and Penny start a video chat with Beverly Hofstadter. When Leonard asks for her professional opinion advice, Beverly says she’s too busy to talk today - until she hears it’s about Sheldon. When Penny explains that Sheldon has been a wreck since his paper was disproved, Beverly tells them it sounds like he’s grieving. She advises them that grieving is a process and each culture has its own traditions to facilitate mourning.

When Raj goes to Howard and Bernadette’s house, Bernie tells him she and Howard have been working hard on his audition and would appreciate another set of eyes to see how it’s shaping up. After Bernadette calls for Howard, “The Great Howdini” makes a singing entrance before throwing glitter in Raj’s face, prompting him to question when the magic starts.

Dressed in formal clothes, Leonard and Penny go over to Sheldon and Amy’s apartment to check on them. With Sheldon lying face down on the couch, Leonard tells him they thought it might help if he had some closure and was able to say goodbye to his paper. Sheldon isn’t keen on having a funeral for their theory, until he hears it was Beverly’s idea. Sheldon thinks the only fitting send-off would be a Viking funeral, but Amy doesn’t think it sounds practical to push it out into a lake and fire a flaming arrow at it, so she suggests a bathtub, a match and an ice-cold Yoo-hoo after. In the bathroom, Sheldon says a few words before they light the paper, place it in a tin and put it in the bathtub. After the tin floats towards the shower curtain, it catches fire.

In Howard and Bernadette’s living room, Bernadette tells him she’s going to take the day off work to help him with his act. Howard says he’s not finding this fun and doesn’t want to audition. Bernadette says she understands that he’s scared but tells him to push past that. Howard insists he’s not scared and just doesn’t like the act they’ve put together. Howard says if he’s going to go through with this, he’s going to do it his own way. Bernadette is still pleased her coaching got him to this point, although Howard’s irritated she keeps trying to claim his victory.

When Sheldon is woken up by the TV, he goes into the living room and finds Amy watching the tape. Amy explains she was trying to see if there’s anything left of his speech, but Sheldon says it’s not important as he remembers what he said anyway. The video cuts to a half-time pep talk given by Sheldon’s dad, George, in the locker room. George tells his team, who are down by a lot and aren’t going to win the game, that they can learn more about themselves from defeats than victories. He tells them that even though they can’t possibly win, they should still go back out there and give the other team hell.

When Sheldon tells Amy his father’s team still lost badly, Amy thinks it’s a shame that the speech didn’t work. Sheldon says maybe the speech did work; he’s been acting like the game is over, but now he realizes it’s only half-time. Sheldon says it’s interesting as he always thought his and his father’s lives were so different, but he now sees that his father also faced failure and setbacks. Sheldon wonders whether their lives mirrored each other more than they thought. Amy takes inspiration from that and considers that their lives could be asymmetrical from one view point, but symmetrical from another. Amy argues that if they take a deeper look from more dimensions, their theory still stands and may even be a bigger idea than they first thought. Sheldon tells Amy to go get her laptop as they have a paper to fix. After she leaves, Sheldon thanks his Dad and says they’re going to give them hell.

During Howard’s audition at the Magic Castle, he asks to borrow the expensive watch of one of the judges. After he takes a mallet to it, he reveals the altogether unamazing result: a pile of shards.