The Line Substitution Solution Season 9, Episode 23 -  Aired May 5, 2016

The Line Substitution Solution

Sheldon hires Stuart to spend the day with Amy when he'd rather go to a movie screening. Also, Leonard's mother, Beverly, comes to town and Penny struggles to make a connection with her.

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Guest Stars: Kevin Sussman as Stuart, Christine Baranski as Beverly Hofstadter, Blake Anderson as Trevor, Amanda Payton as Ainsley

Writers: Steve Holland (Story), Saladin K. Patterson (Story), Tara Hernandez (Story), Steven Molaro (Teleplay), Eric Kaplan (Teleplay), Maria Ferrari (Teleplay)

Director: Anthony Rich

Viewers: 13.22 million Households Rating: 9/16 Adults 18-49 Rating: 3/13

Available on iTunes

Episode Notes

  • The title refers to Sheldon hiring Stuart to stand in line at the cinema for him as he tries to patch things up with Amy.

> Sheldon's Knock

Sheldon performs his ritualistic knock on Penny's apartment door when he goes to apologize to Amy for sending Stuart to spend time with her while he waited in line at the movies. Earlier, Bernadette wondered whether Sheldon had come to apologize to Amy when there was a knock at the door, but it turned out to be Stuart sent by Sheldon to apologize. Bernadette didn't seem to notice that Stuart's knock on the door was not Sheldon's characteristic knock.

Episode Quotes

Penny: Helium.
Sheldon: Yes.
Penny: Yes.
Sheldon: Taylor Swift.
Penny: Yes. Pi.
Sheldon: Yes. Kardashian.
Penny: More specific.
Sheldon: Khloe?
Penny: Yes.
Sheldon: See, I remembered because if it looks like Kim it's Kim, if it looks kind of like Kim it's Kourtney, and if it looks nothing like Kim it's Khloe.

Raj: Boy, all this standing's making me tired. Good thing I brought my collapsible stick chair.
Howard: Not the stick chair. You look like an idiot on that thing.
Raj: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but chairs on sticks are comfy.

Stuart: Anyone else need anything before I go?
Howard: I'll give you a dollar if you make fun of Raj.
Stuart: That's mean.
Howard: Five.
Stuart: You look like Tigger if Tigger looked like a jackass.
Howard: Uh, if you ever need a reference or anything, just let me know.

Penny: Oh, that's a Venn Diagram, and I remember because I thought to myself, "Venn is he gonna stop talking about this diagram?"

Leonard: When's the screening?
Raj: Uh, it's tonight, but it's first-come, first-served, so we should probably get there early and wait in line.
Howard: Let's do it.
Leonard: Penny's busy with my mother, so Im in.
Sheldon: Oh, bad news. Amy's making me go shopping with her later, so looks like none of us can go.
Leonard: You do realize were allowed to have fun without you?
Howard: In fact, that's usually the trick to it.

News Stories

Title Date Posted
923 'The Line Substitution Solution' Press Release April 27, 2016

CBS has issued the press release for the May 5 episode of The Big Bang Theory, "The Line Subsitititon Solution", the penultimate episode of season 9. Christine Baranski reprises her role as Leonard's mother, Dr. Beverly Hofstadter, in the episode.  Full story


In the apartment, Sheldon is showing Penny flash cards containing scientific images while she shows him pictures of famous people. When Leonard gets up, Sheldon tells him that he and Penny decided to use their breakfast time to expand their respective knowledge bases. Leonard asks Penny if she wants to go with him to the airport later to pick up his mother. After Penny agrees, Leonard questions whether he needs to go as well. Leonard says he could do without the forty minute car ride where his mother criticizes every aspect of his life and suggests the car journey would be a good way for Penny to bond with Beverly. Penny thinks it’s just a way for him to avoid his mother, but she agrees anyway as she would like to have a good relationship with her mother-in-law.

In the comic book store, Raj tells the guys about a screening of the Avengers movie tonight where Joss Whedon will be doing a Q&A session. Raj explains it’s first-come-first-served, so they should get there early and wait in line. Howard and Leonard are in, but Sheldon says Amy is making him go shopping with her later. Sheldon is disappointed that his friends say they will be going to the screening without him. Leonard suggests he go shopping with Amy while they save a spot for him in line, but Sheldon points out they don’t have the authority to save places in the line. Howard mentions that there are apps now that allow you to pay people to do errands and wait in line. Stuart is surprised people are waiting in line as a job. It makes him feel better about his life, until he hears how much they can earn.

As Penny drives Beverly back from the airport, she admits she is not surprised her son had his wife come pick her up. Beverly claims Leonard has had intimacy issues his whole life and goes on to ask whether he has difficulty maintaining erections. Penny tries to change the subject, but Beverly argues she is a psychiatrist so Penny doesn’t need to avoid having intimate conversations with her. Penny admits she would like to be close, although she would rather start favorite books instead. Beverly recognises she can be intimidating, so she asks what she can do to make this easier for Penny. Penny wants her to not psychoanalyze everything she says. When Penny proposes a mother-in-law, daughter-in-law dinner tonight, Beverly wonders if it would just be the two of them. Penny says she’ll invite a few girlfriends because hearing her say “the two of us” sent a chill down her spine.

After Stuart climbs into Amy’s car, he explains Sheldon paid him to go shopping with her. Amy is surprised Sheldon paid someone to get out of spending time with her, but Stuart argues it’s not like that as there’s a long line Sheldon would rather stand in. An annoyed Amy tells Stuart they will not be shopping together.

As the guys wait in line at the movie theater, they reminisce about all the times they’ve queued together. Sheldon is surprised when Stuart walks up and accuses him of being the most insensitive person he has ever met. Stuart asks Sheldon where he gets off sending him to shop with Amy. Sheldon is puzzled as Stuart was happy to do it when he hired him. Stuart admits he’s not upset with Sheldon, but Amy is and she hired him to let Sheldon have it.

When Amy and Bernadette join Beverly and Penny in her apartment, Amy is unloading on Beverly about Sheldon’s behavior. After Beverly finally gets a chance to speak, she remarks that Sheldon has a brilliant and complicated mind and it’s understandable that being in a relationship with him could be trying. Beverly says she admires Amy’s resolve, calling her a remarkable woman. Over in the kitchen area, Penny wonders why she can’t bond with Beverly like that. Bernadette points out Amy is with Sheldon, whom Beverly loves like a son and Penny is with her son whom she doesn’t. When Penny takes snacks over to the couch, she remarks that being in a relationship with Leonard also comes with its challenges. Beverly’s only comment is “Well, what can you do?”.

When there is a knock on Penny’s door, Bernadette wonders if it’s Sheldon there to say sorry. When she opens the door to Stuart, he is holding a bouquet of flowers and tells them that Sheldon says he’s sorry. Amy offers Bernadette five dollars to slam the door in Stuart’s face.

Back at the theater, Raj is getting tired from all the standing around so he pulls out his collapsible stick chair. Howard thinks he looks like an idiot. When Stuart returns, Sheldon asks if everything is smoothed out with Amy. Stuart admits Amy is still pretty mad. Leonard wonders if it’s time for Sheldon to apologize for himself, but Sheldon fears he would lose his place in line. Stuart offers to stand in line for him, in return for more of his money.

Back in Penny’s apartment, Bernadette is trying to talk up Penny’s work to Beverly but instead sparks a conversation about her own career. Bernadette tries to get the subject back on to Penny, but all Penny has to talk about is her company car’s seat warmers. When Sheldon knocks at the door, Amy tells him to come in. Sheldon quickly says hello to everyone, explaining there’s a line that could start moving at any moment. Sheldon details the three basic steps of an apology and goes through them in rapid succession. Sheldon hopes Amy will accept his apology so he can get back to the Uber waiting outside. After Amy says fine, Sheldon quickly says his goodbyes and points out Penny has spinach in her teeth. Beverly reveals it’s been there since the airport.

As Stuart stands in for Sheldon at the theater, Howard is still mocking Raj for his stick chair. When Sheldon returns, he claims the apology went well and relieves Stuart of his line duties. Sheldon is upset when he sees a guy join the group in front of them in the line. Sheldon tells Leonard the guy cut the line, but Leonard thinks it’s fine as he was just joining his friends. Sheldon argues it’s a breach of line etiquette, but Howard points out they’re near the front of the line and will get in either way. Ignoring Leonard’s plea that he ignore it, Sheldon confronts the guy. The guy points out he was just joining his friends, so it’s cool. Sheldon disagrees, pointing out it’s first-come-first-served. When Sheldon tells the guy he needs to go to the back of the line, he wonders who whether Sheldon is for real.

Beverly tells Amy it was very nice of Sheldon to apologize, admitting she is fascinated by Amy’s relationship with Sheldon. Beverly mentions she is preparing to write a book on high-achieving couples and would like to interview the two of them. Amy mentions that Bernadette’s husband is a former astronaut. When Beverly asks if he might be interested in being interview, Bernadette admits she overhears Howard pretending to be interviewed in the bathroom. Bernadette suggests Beverly might want to talk to Penny as well, but Beverly doesn’t see why.

Having had enough of being ignored and belittled, Penny snaps and tells Beverly this is ridiculous. Penny says she’s been trying to make a connection with Beverly all day, but clearly she is getting nowhere. Beverly wonders whether Penny’s seeking a connection or just some form of validation. Penny argues she was seeking some form of friendship, but now she would take Beverly not insulting her to her face. When Beverly claims her intention was never to insult her, Penny says she’s been doing it all day and wonders if she even knows what an insult is. Beverly admits it’s not a clinical term, but one example would be Penny marrying her son and not telling her about the wedding.

Back at the theater, Sheldon and the guy argue about whether Joss Whedon would support line-cutters. Sheldon takes the debate to the public and asks for a show of hands: Who there takes issue with the man cutting the line? When nobody raises their hand, Sheldon argues it is a sad state of affairs that they don’t even care when someone disrespects them. Sheldon invokes the name of Rosa Parks and asks the crowd to follow in her footsteps and stand up for themselves. When he asks for another show of hands, a woman questions why they should listen to Sheldon when he cut the line himself. Sheldon denies that and argues what he did was swapsies, not cutsies. Sheldon’s protest fizzles out as the line starts moving.

Back in the apartment, Penny is surprised Beverly cared about the wedding at all. Beverly points out she is still human and not getting invited to her own son’s wedding is difficult to ignore. When Penny questions whether Beverly would have come to Vegas if they had invited her, Beverly says she wouldn’t have gone and would have told them they were making a huge mistake. After Penny asks if she really thinks they made a mistake, Beverly admits she did at the time, but she has never seen Leonard so happy so perhaps she was wrong. Penny proposes having another small ceremony while Beverly is still in town if she’s interested. Beverly says she would find that perfectly acceptable.

As Bernadette gets ready for bed, she checks on Howard who has been in the bathroom a while. Bernadette overhears him pretending to be interviewed about his career as an astronaut.