The Big Bang Theory season 10 episode 20 review: The Recollection Dissipation

It's one trope too many in the latest episode of The Big Bang Theory season 10. Here's our review...

This article comes from Den of Geek UK.

This review contains spoilers.

10.20 The Recollection Dissipation

There are certain sitcom tropes every show has to cover at some point – the It’s A Wonderful Life episode, the episode when the most intolerable character learns to be tolerable, the one where they tackle mental illness or addiction for half an hour before never speaking of it again and – straight out of the 90s – the one where the protagonist has to be in two places at once.

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The Recollection Dissipation sees Sheldon pulling a Mrs Doubtfire on Amy and Leonard, but the twist is that everyone knows about it and it’s not remotely funny. Nothing escalates, there are no actual jokes that don’t involve soup, and Sheldon it still smarter than everyone he knows. It’s basically a microcosm of the later seasons of The Big Bang Theory.

We’re back on the ‘isn’t Sheldon just the gosh darn best’ train, and the episode suffers dearly for it. The show is always better when it focuses on a single character or storyline, but here we go from a set-up about Sheldon wanting to save time by working on two projects at once to an episode about Sheldon getting loopy on cold medicine and forgetting what he’s done.

It’s one trope too many for twenty-minutes of screen time. I have a particular fondness for the latter conceit, mainly because it often forces the episodes concerned to try different structural quirks and provides easy laughs, but it’s strangled here by not having enough time to develop. As soon as Sheldon realises that he’s left the notebook with top-secret military information somewhere, we’re at the cowboy bar and all is well.

This should have been candy to The Big Bang Theory writers – Sheldon, who let’s not forget is originally from Texas, in a cowboy bar? It’d have been so easy to throw one more well-worn convenience in there, having the patrons take to Sheldon’s weirdness rather than bully him like they would in real life. We get half-way there, but I wanted more.

Also, is there a contractual agreement for Kunal Nayyar that doesn’t allow him to be a major player in too many episodes in a row? After the throwaway line about Raj going to Penny’s work party in place of Leonard I assumed we’d actually get to see said party, but really it was an excuse to exclude him from much of the rest of the episode.

There are some highlights – I still enjoy whenever Bernadette gets to wrestle with motherhood yet still be a real character, and the exchange between Penny and Sheldon in the laundry room is the kind of sweet and familiar scene the show used to do so well. I also laughed at the gag about Sheldon having to be a tutor to much larger men should he go to prison.

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And Stuart also gets to be a person here, with Bernadette confiding in him her worries about going back to work now that her maternity leave is over. It’s a welcome glimpse of what Stuart’s role in the household might be when the writers aren’t actively beating him down, even if I’d prefer it if she was able to talk to Penny and Amy about this. It seems ages since the girls got together.

But Amy is otherwise engaged, as we see from the final scene. I’m just going to go ahead and assume that Mayim Bialik can genuinely sing Soft Kitty in German and Mandarin, because she’s just that awesome.

Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, The Collaboration Fluctuation, here.