The Big Bang Theory season 11 episode 23 review: The Sibling Realignment

The Big Bang Theory takes a trip into Sheldon's childhood for its latest season 11 episode...

This review contains spoilers.

11.23 The Sibling Realignment

This is probably where it would have been useful to be caught up on Young Sheldon, right?

We open the episode with Sheldon on the phone with his mother, who is refusing to come to the wedding if her older son, George, isn’t invited. Because he loves his mother more than anything, Sheldon folds and flies to Texas with Leonard to convince him to come.

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Through his subsequent whining, we learn that Leonard and Raj also grew up with brothers, and we get another delightful ‘Raj is Indian and thus funny by default’ skit involving Adut and a pet mongoose.

The boys track Georgie down at his tire store – where he’s calling himself Doctor Tire, much to Sheldon’s annoyance – but the initial meeting doesn’t go well. Leonard attempts to reason with Georgie from the perspective of Sheldon’s brother-substitute, and it turns out this is a far more effective approach. Leonard has spent over a decade bending to his friend’s whims, and he understands how demoralising it is to never get so much as a ‘thank you’.

But Georgie doesn’t want a thank you, he wants an apology. While the Cooper’s money and time was all spent on sending Sheldon to study abroad, Georgie had to build himself up from the bottom. Even after all that, his mother’s still most proud of Sheldon, which is another thing Leonard can relate to.

As an episode of this show, this is a passable attempt at adding some extra layers to Sheldon’s childhood life beyond ‘his mother was a Christian’ and ‘he was a nerd in Texas’, but in relation to the spin-off it’s a poignant flash of what can happen when two people let old animosity build to the point where you spend decades apart from one another.

For Sheldon, he doesn’t speak to his brother because in his mind he was tormented throughout his younger years. But for Georgie, Sheldon was the bully and then absentee as soon as he could go to the West Coast and immerse himself in science. Now, however, Sheldon has learned that letting other people into his little bubble can actually make for a richer life, but it’s a life his brother has been barred from.

We know as an audience that Sheldon can be terrible, and that childhood sibling rivalry can usually be brushed aside, but we also know that Sheldon wasn’t like normal children, and he may have taken the teasing more seriously than Georgie realised.

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An incident in which Georgie threw away Sheldon’s Halloween costume was actually him trying to stop his brother from being tormented for wearing a dress, though sitting on his head while Sheldon was trying to watch Star Trek was just plain hilarious.

As with any episode focused primarily on Sheldon, the rest of the group are saddled with a far less interesting subplot, but the ordeal of Amy getting pink eye a week before her wedding providing some nice light chuckles. The only one spared is Penny, whose just glad that she won’t look terrible in Amy’s wedding photos, but Amy notes that that there won’t be a wedding if Sheldon catches wind that they’re infectious.

Now next week’s wedding – which will go ahead due to Sheldon’s extended vacation – is arriving in a matter of days both in the show and the real-world and, with some exciting guest appearances and the fruition of eight years of storytelling, it’s going to be a finale to remember.

Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, The Monetary Insufficiency, here.