The Inspiration Deprivation Season 12, Episode 19 -  Aired April 18, 2019

The Inspiration Deprivation

Amy feels the pressure after she is told that her winning a Nobel prize could inspire a generation of female scientists. Meanwhile, Howard buys a scooter like he used to own and tries to keep it from Bernadette.

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Guest Stars: Regina King as Mrs. Davis, Joshua Malina as President Siebert, Brian Posehn as Bert, Brooke Dillman as Bebe

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

Director: Mark Cendrowski

Available on iTunes

Episode Notes

  • The title refers to Sheldon and Amy using the isolation tanks to forget about their Nobel prize trouble.

> Soft Kitty

As Sheldon tries to comfort Amy after she admitted feeling like she was letting everyone down, he sings "Soft Kitty" to her.

Episode Quotes

Bernadette: Why do you want to ride that stupid thing anyway?
Howard: I don't know. Maybe I just miss the freedom I had as a younger man.
Bernadette: What freedom? You lived with your mother. You had a curfew.

Amy: I-I'm sorry. I-I just-- I-I snapped.
President Siebert: Oh, you're sorry! It's all better then! Listen up, you have a shot to win a Nobel Prize, and you're blowing it.
Ms. Davis: I think what President Siebert is trying to say is that you have a shot to win a Nobel Prize and you're blowing it.
Sheldon: Uh, that's exactly what he said.
Ms. Davis: Yes, but I said it in my calming H.R. voice.

Howard: This is a twist. Usually you're the one getting called into H.R.
Raj: Yeah, now it's Amy. Who knew you were married to such a bad girl.
Sheldon: I suppose the signs were always there. I mean, she did recently go to that rave at the mall.
Amy: It was a Spencer's Gifts.
Sheldon: There was music and a strobe light. If that isn't a rave, then I don't know what one is.
Leonard: You don't know what one is.

Amy: Guys, come on, I think I'm in trouble.
Howard: It's no big deal. I used to get called into H.R. all the time. Ms. Davis is great. Pro tip: if you find strong women sexy, do not say it out loud.

Ms. Davis: Thank you both for coming. President Siebert asked that I be a part of this conversation to help us calmly discuss what went wrong and how we can better move forward. We are not here to point fingers, so, Dr. Cooper, please stop that.

News Stories

Title Date Posted
1219 'The Inspiration Deprivation' Press Release March 29, 2019

CBS has released the synopsis for the April 18 episode of The Big Bang Theory's final season, "The Inspiration Deprivation".  Full story


Amy goes to the guys’ table in the university cafeteria to show Sheldon a text she just received from human resources. Following Amy’s outburst at the reception for Nobel laureates, Ms. Davis wants to see her. When Amy worries she’s in trouble, Howard says it’s no big deal as Ms. Davis is great. After Sheldon’s phone beeps with a message that Ms. Davis wants to see him too, Sheldon wants to get their story straight. It’s all Amy’s fault, he says.

In Ms. Davis’s office, she thanks Sheldon and Amy for coming. As President Siebert expresses his anger at Amy’s outburst and how it could cost them the Nobel prize, Ms. Davis translates for him in kindler, gentler words. Amy apologizes for snapping, but Siebert isn’t moved and claims they’re blowing their chance to win a Nobel prize. When Sheldon asks what they can do to patch things up, Siebert says “nothing.” Siebert has cancelled their press interviews and wants them to lie low and let the university do damage control. Ms. Davis tells them how important their winning a Nobel prize is to the university. She also mentions how Amy would be only the fourth woman to win a Nobel prize for physics, which could inspire a generation of women.

As Howard and Raj walk through the university parking lot, Raj notices a scooter that looks like the one Howard used to have. As they reminisce about the old days when they used to drive around trying to meet women, Raj wonders why Howard sold his scooter. Howard explains he finally found his woman, and she made him sell it.

In the apartment kitchen, Amy tells Leonard and Penny how Ms. Davis pointed out she would only be the fourth woman in history to win a physics prize. Amy admits she’s feeling the pressure. Amy isn’t able to focus on her problem as Sheldon is also freaking out, even after Leonard’s attempt to distract him with an altered Rubik’s cube. Sheldon is frustrated that the university expects them to sit back and do nothing. After Penny tells him he just needs to relax, Sheldon says he usually self-soothes by doing science but that’s just reminding him of the Nobel prize. After Leonard proposes a sensory deprivation tank instead, Amy has heard that’s supposed to be calming and suggests she and Sheldon do it.

In the university parking lot, Howard leads Raj, whose eyes are covered, to a surprise. Howard bought a scooter - for himself, not Raj. When Raj wonders whether Bernadette will be angry when she finds out, Howard says she’s not going to find out as he’s keeping it at the university.

At the clinic, the technician, Bebe, leads Sheldon and Amy to their sensory deprivation tanks. As they’ve never done it before, she tells them people have different experiences in the tanks: some people have perfect calm, others sleep, and some have visions. After Sheldon asks some questions about the sanitation, he and Amy climb in to their own tanks. After Bebe closes the tank on Sheldon, he presses the panic button and calls for Bebe. He just wanted to make sure it worked.

When Bernadette returns home with the kids in their stroller, Howard is on the drive holding a motorcycle helmet. After she asks what he’s got there, Howard claims he was just tossing out an old helmet he doesn’t need. Bernadette wonders what’s going on as he looks guilty. As Howard tries to make a quick phone call, Raj drives Howard’s scooter around the corner and starts pulling onto the drive. When he sees Bernadette standing there, he changes course and drives off down the street.

In their sensory deprivation tanks, Sheldon feels like he’s floating in space. He’s pleased when he starts seeing a vision of infinite iterations of the "Nautilus" section of the Mandelbrot set. Over in Amy’s tank, Amy is initially pleased when she starts seeing a colorful display. When Ms. Davis appears, her words about Amy winning a Nobel prize and inspiring women start ringing in her head. Amy sees a parade of girls and women telling her how unhappy they are that she let them down. When their hour is up, Bebe returns with Leonard and Penny to see how they’re doing. After Bebe opens Sheldon’s tank, he’s disappointed that his time is up. When Amy’s tank is opened, she shouts out that she’s a failure who can’t do this.

Back in their apartment, a relaxed Sheldon is sitting on the couch as he tells Amy the tank was amazing. In contrast, Amy is stress cleaning the fridge. Amy admits she’s freaking out about the Nobel prize and feels it’s too much pressure. It was bad enough when she was letting them down, but now it’s like she would be letting all women down. Sheldon asks her to hang on a minute so he can Google what to do when someone is freaking out. After he reads that a walk can be calming, he gets up and leaves.

In Howard and Bernadette’s kitchen, Bernadette says she can’t believe he was sneaking around her back like a child. Howard claims he didn’t want her to worry, but she argues he just didn’t want to be caught. Howard says he needs something in his life that reminds him he’s a man, but Bernadette points out he has a wife and two children who need a father. When Bernadette wonders why he wants to ride that thing, Howard says he misses his carefree bachelor days. Bernadette points out he lived with his mother and had a curfew. Bernadette says she is done talking about it. She wants Howard to ask himself whether that tiny little motorcycle is the hill he wants to die on. Later in the university parking lot, Howard is counting money as Bert sits atop the scooter.

In the apartment, Sheldon tells Leonard and Penny that he knows Amy’s unhappy but he doesn’t know how to help. Leonard says maybe he can’t. Sometimes people are upset and all you can do is be there for them. Penny thinks Sheldon might not know what to do because Amy’s always taken care of him. Sheldon takes that to mean that by calming down, he’s taken away the one thing that gives Amy comfort: looking after him. Sheldon decides he needs to have an emotional meltdown so Amy is forced to focus on him.

A supposedly distraught Sheldon rushes into his apartment to tell Amy that he’s “literally” losing his mind. Amy doesn’t buy it and tells him she doesn’t have time for this right now. Sheldon apologizes, saying he knows she’s upset but he doesn’t know how to make it better. Amy doesn’t know how he or anyone can. She admits she feels like she’s letting everyone down. After Amy sits down on the couch, Sheldon takes a seat next to her. Sheldon hugs Amy and, as he holds her, starts singing Soft Kitty.

In their kitchen, Bernadette counts the money and mentions that Raj said Howard got $800. Howard hands over a couple of notes he had pocketed. Howard tells her that on a positive note, the scooter helped Bert meet a girl. She’s an E.R. nurse.

When Amy goes to Ms. Davis’s office, she tells her she was right that Nobel prize is bigger than she is and, like it or not, she is a role model. However, Amy says Ms. Davis is wrong to keep her on the sidelines as she is smart, capable can make a difference. After Ms. Davis asks her to take a seat and offers her a glass of water, Amy asks if she has anything stronger. Ms. Davis points out she’s in charge of the human resources department. Ms. Davis picks up two glasses and a bottle of whiskey.