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"The Closet Reconfiguration" is the nineteenth episode of the sixth season of the American sitcom The Big Bang Theory. This episode first aired on Thursday, March 14, 2013.[1]

## Summary

Penny and Leonard host a cocktail party. Howard discovers a letter he received from his father, whom he hasn't heard from since he was 11.[1]

## Extended Plot

Bernadette joins Howard in their bedroom and asks what he is doing. Howard replies that she had told him to clean up, so he was cleaning up as he throws more things onto the giant junk pile in their bedroom closet. The rest of the gang is coming over for dinner and she worries that someone will look in their closet which Howard assures her will not happen. They could open that door looking for the bathroom, Bernadette muses. Howard does agree that with all the stuff in the closet, there could be a toilet in the closet that they don't know about. Bernadette states that after tonight they have to go through the closet and straighten it up. Howard suggests that they show the closet to Sheldon due to his obsession with organizing things. Even his label maker has a label on it, as does that label. Bernadette doesn't feel that they can ask Sheldon to straighten out their closet. One doesn't have to ask him according to Howard, just seeing the mess will set off the goblins in his head and he'll do it.

Raj is already drinking their wine, when Sheldon, Amy, Penny and Leonard arrive. Penny smells something good cooking. Since Sheldon eats Thai food that night, Bernadette went to the Thai market and made his usual meal from scratch. Sheldon tells her that she shouldn't have. Bernadette says that it was her pleasure. Sheldon repeats that she shouldn't have because they stopped and he brought his own take-out. Bernadette explains that she has been cooking all day. Sheldon innocently says, "Well now don't you feel silly." She then snaps to her husband to show Sheldon the closet.

During dinner Raj compliments Bernadette on the spring rolls. She then points out they came from Sheldon's take-out food. He counters that he would not have known how good they tasted if he had not eaten her food first, thus insulting Bernadette's cooking. Sheldon comes in and asks if Howard wants his clothes arranged by color or seasonally. Howard tells him that by color is fine. Sheldon contradicts him and tells him that they will be arranged seasonally. Penny asks Sheldon whether he was going to spend any time with Amy. Amy doesn't mind since he spent an hour in the supermarket optimizing the cheese aisle. Afterwards the assistant store manager chased him out of the store waving a salami.  Amy says that his quirks just make you love him more. Then she wants someone to agree with her. Penny then nods her head sarcastically in agreement.

Leonard comes into the clean closet and tells Sheldon that it's time to go. Sheldon begs for five more minutes. Leonard replies that he said that five minutes ago and that Amy and Penny were already in the car. Sheldon complains that he never gets to do

Howard can't sleep thinking about the letter and is sitting in their kitchen. Bernadette comes in worried and tells him he should not have had the espresso just before bed. She knows the little cups make him feel big; however it's not worth it. Howard agrees that he is curious about the contents of his father's letter since he hasn't seen him since he was little. Bernadette suggests that he read it since he might apologize or explain why he left. Howard insists that he abandoned his mother and him. He doesn't deserve a chance to explain. Howard then turns on the stove, lights the letter and throws it in the sink saying that he should have done that a long time ago. Afterwards, Howard does feel better until the smoke alarm goes off.  Neither of them are tall enough to reach it so Bernadette is seen giving Howard a boost.

Down in the Laundry room Sheldon is using rubber gloves to clean out the dryer lint container. He compares it to cleaning out the entire building's belly button. The girls enter and Sheldon greets them asking what he can do for them. Amy tells him that he has something that they want.  Sheldon reminisces that his mother told him that this seduction is what happens to pretty boys in the big city. Penny calms him and says that all they want is some information. Sheldon says that he has that in swathes and tells them to ravage him. Penny then asks what Howard's letter said. Sheldon doesn't feel like he can tell them since he is bound by closet organizer-organizee confidentiality. Amy denies that that is a real rule. Sheldon counters that neither is holding your girlfriend's hand at the movies which doesn't stop Amy from pawing him like a bear in a trashcan full of sweets. Sheldon says that just because he knows what it says, he cannot go around disseminating the information freely because control of the information belongs to Howard. Penny says that the letter was found in Bernadette's closet and doesn't that count for something. Sheldon then asks, "Are you pointing out that California is a community property state and since Howard and Bernadette are married the intellectual property contained in that letter is jointly owned by the two spouses?" Penny looks confused and then agrees. Sheldon says that she played her hand well and that he doesn't give Penny enough credit.

Leonard and Raj are sitting in the living room where Raj tells Leonard that he was right coming to him as the party planner. Sheldon reminds Raj that Leonard just invited him to dinner. Raj wants to make sure that Leonard's dinner party kicks Howard's dinner party's ass. Leonard disagrees. Raj suggests a wild theme and Leonard tells him that he needs a testosterone patch. Leonard wants to keep it simple, cocktails, Hors d'œuvres, and light jazz music. Raj thinks that he's got his theme from some Mad Men rerun. Sheldon walks in and Leonard asks where he had been. Patting his laundry, Sheldon tells him that if he was prone to sarcasm, he would say that he just pulled off a major heist at the Museum of Laundry Baskets. Leonard quietly counts to ten. He then further explained that Sheldon had been gone a long time. Sheldon then describes how the girls made him reveal confidential information about Howard's father. Leonard asked what information. Sheldon again claims closet organizer-organizee confidentiality. Raj pipes up that they won't tell anyone. Sheldon retorts that badgering him won't help. He then tells them that they should have pointed out that it's pointless to keep it a secret because Penny will tell them anyway. Leonard tells him he'll go with that. Sheldon then agrees to talk and remarks that everyone is on their game today though he is always the one who told them under what conditions he would talk.

Leonard describes how he thought that family was the most important thing and that Howard should not throw it away like he did. Bernadette finishes with describing a picture of his father holding Howard on the day he was born and on the back was written: Howard my son, my greatest gift. Howard is very touched. Sheldon wants to know which one he thinks it is, "matey". Howard again says that he doesn't want to know, but he does want them all to be true. Leonard says that one of them is true and Howard thinks that that is cool and he thanks them. Penny says that it is still early and there is a party waiting for them back at the apartment. Sheldon then admits to have read some saucy passages from Bernadette's diary. Sheldon assures her that her secrets are safe with him though copyright laws allow him to quote snippets in the context of a review.

All are having a good time back at the apartment, Howard and Bernadette are dancing. Howard is feeling better, but if he had known they were going to dance, he would have worn his flats. Penny says that it turned out pretty well and Leonard agrees. Raj also agrees though something is bothering him. Amy suggests that if he lets her pierce his brain with a hot needle in the right place, he would be happy all the time. Sheldon enters with questions from cleaning out Penny's closet. He finds a dead goldfish that Penny had forgotten about. He also asks if she had a dog because he found a battery operated "chew toy" [her vibrator]. Embarrassed, Penny jumps up, says that the party is over, and pushes Sheldon out of the apartment.

## Critics

• The TV Critic: "...the writers came up with one of the most inventive, appropriate and as far as I know original scenarios for a conclusion...It created a very sweet ending where the group protected Howard while also communally apologizing for snooping in his business. A terrific piece of writing...Because the ending is all anyone will remember it’s tempting to think of this as a great episode. But it’s really an average episode with a great ending."[2]
• The A.V. Club gave this episode an A-.[3]
• IGN gave this episode 9.2/10.[4]
• The DR Club gave this episode an A.[5]
• IMDb user reviews

## Notes

• Title Reference: The title refers to Sheldon reorganizing Howard and Bernadette's bedroom closet.
• Chuck Lorre's vanity card.
• This episode was watched by 15.90 million people with a rating of 4.8 (adults 18-49).[6]
• Total viewers including DVR users 20.05 million.
• This episode aired in Canada on March 14, 2013 with 3.745 million viewers and a weekly ranking of #1.[7]
• In the United Kingdom, this episode aired on June 6, 2013 with 2.469 million total viewers.[8]
• Episode transcript [1]

## Trivia

• First episode to show all of the gang together at Bernadette's apartment.
• Sheldon's label maker was previously mentioned in "The Pancake Batter Anomaly" (S1E11).
• Even though the episode received mainly positive reviews, some fans were annoyed due to the fact that the writers "ruined" the emotion by adding Sheldon's jokes into the intervention scene.
• Sheldon's solution to Howard's dilemma invokes the principle of quantum superposition. Quantum superposition is the term physicists use to describe the manner in which quantum particles appear to exist in all states simultaneously. Notably, Niels Bohr, a famous Danish physicist, proposed the Copenhagen interpretation, which revolves around quantum superposition. Recall, in "The Tangerine Factor" (S1E17), Sheldon revealed: "In 1935, Erwin Schrödinger, in an attempt to explain the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics, proposed an experiment where a cat is placed in a box with a sealed vial of poison that will break open at a random time. Now, since no one knows when or if the poison has been released, until the box is opened, the cat can be thought of as both alive and dead." (See Schrödinger's Cat.) Sheldon's musings on the superposition of states for a macroscopic system in that episode likewise aided Penny and Leonard in solving their conundrum.
Measurement and the Superposition of States: Say that we wish to measure the property B of a quantum mechanical system to which there corresponds the Hermitian operator $\hat{B}$. {In quantum mechanics, the linear operators which represent physical quantities (such as $\hat{H}$, $\hat{T}$, $\hat{V}$, $\hat{p}$, $\hat{x}$) are Hermitian.} There are basically three cases, noting since any function (within reason) can be expanded in Eigen functions of an Hermitian operator, so, too, can the state function $\Psi$. (1) If the state function is in a stationary state (probability density is independent of time) and is an eigenfunction of $\hat{B}$, then then there will be only one term in the expansion which corresponds to the definite value $\hat B \Psi=b\Psi$, one of the eigenvalues of $\hat{B}$. This number will be found every time a measurement is made. (2) If the state function is in a stationary state, but is not an eigenfunction of $\hat{B}$, then there will be more than one term in the expansion and for each term the square of its expansion coefficient gives the probability for observing the corresponding eigenvalue upon measurement of the property B. In this case $\Psi$ is considered to be a superposition of the eigenstates of the operator $\hat{B}$ as it is written as a linear combination of the Eigen functions of $\hat{B}$. (3) If the state function is in a non-stationary state (probability density depends upon time) and is not an Eigen function of $\hat{B}$, then there will be also more than one term in the expansion and for each term the square of its expansion coefficient gives the probability for observing the corresponding eigenvalue upon measurement of the property B.

• Sheldon demonstrates his skill at organizing closets that was introduced in "The Big Bran Hypothesis" (S1E2), in which he imposed a new organizational paradigm for Penny's apartment and mentioned that he left a suggested organizational schematic for her bedroom closet. In that undertaking, he similarly refused to leave until he was done; however, the organizational scheme for Penny's closet was not implemented until this episode. As Leonard has noted, Sheldon is possessed by "the compulsive need to sort, organize and label the entire world around him".
• Howard describes Sheldon's obsession at making labels: "his label maker has a label on it". Previously Leonard made exactly the same description in "The Pancake Batter Anomaly" (S1E11).
• Sheldon says that he won't disclose secrets, but then gives them the circumstances in which he will reveal them. In "The Bad Fish Paradigm" (S2E1), he was more reticent to divulge a friend's secret, but still struggled.
• First episode in which only the main characters of the show appear and no extra actors are used.
• Of the six stories told about Howard's father's letter:
• Sheldon's is the only one that is completely impersonal and has the probability of being sent by mistake.
• Amy's is the only truly personal one as it refers to a time, place, event and state, all of which Howard can investigate for authenticity. Faking such a story is most risky.
• Leonard's and Penny's imply that Howard's father was somehow guilty. Leonard's implies that Howard's father shirked from his duties towards Howard and his mother.
• Penny's is the most creative story.
• Howard received his letter at his 18th birthday. This day is significant because it is the day in which one comes of age and all legally imposed restraining orders by a child's guardian expires.
• Not the first time the inside of anyone's closet is seen, since the inside of Leonard's closet has been seen as in "The Cooper-Hofstadter Polarization" (S1E9) when Penny is helping Leonard pick out his clothes.
• The dead goldfish that Sheldon discovers in Penny's closet at the end of the episode was later revealed to be Leonard's in the season finale.
• Features third and fourth times Sheldon has entered someone else's closet. As of this episode he has now entered the closets of Louie/Louise, Penny (twice) and Howard and Bernadette (the only one of which not in Apartment 4B). Each character related differently about his entries.

## Quotes

Howard: In here.
Bernadette: I’m sorry. I should have left it alone.
Howard: It’s okay. Sorry I ran off like that.
Bernadette: What are you looking at?
Howard: Uh, pictures of my dad and me when I was a kid.
Howard: I got to tell you, as angry as I am at Sheldon for blabbing, he did a hell of a job organizing this closet. Look at this. Photos of Wolowitz family before father left forever. Check out nine-year-old Howie with cornrows. Neither race was happy to see me with those.
Bernadette: Think you could take a break?
Howard: Why?
Bernadette: Got a little surprise for you. Come on.
Howard: Oh, honey, I am in no mood to have sex tonight. I’ll lay there if you absolutely have to have it, but… Oh. What are you guys doing here?
Leonard: When you left you weren't sure whether or not you wanted to know what was in your Dad’s letter so we came up with kind of a cool solution.
Howard: Oh yeah, what’s that?
Sheldon: It’s simple, really. It occurred to me that knowing and not knowing can be achieved by creating a macroscopic example of quantum superposition. The principle that a physical system exists partially in all of its possible states at once.
Penny: We were all thinking it, really. It's kind of the elephant in the room.
Sheldon: Anyway, um, I realized if we each present you with an account of what your father wrote to you, only one of which is true, and we don’t tell you which one it is, you will be forever be in a state of epistemic ambivalence.
Penny: Yeah. And he said if it wasn't epistemic, we might as well not even do it.
Leonard: Raj, you’re up.
Raj: Okay. It was a card for your eighteenth birthday. Inside it said: Happy Birthday, Howard. I love you, Dad. Oh, and it was a Far Side card. The one where the frog had his tongue stuck to the underside of an airplane. Thinks it’s a fly. Silly frog. So funny.
Leonard: Sheldon.
Sheldon: It was a map leading to the lost treasure of famous pirate One-eyed Willy.
Howard: Nice try. That’s the plot for Goonies.
Amy: Told you.
Sheldon: Don’t.
Leonard: Amy.
Amy: You didn't know it, but your father was in the auditorium at your high school graduation and he cried because he was so proud of you.
Howard: Really?
Sheldon: Or that’s complete poppycock which Amy made up and it still could be the map. (Amy looks unhappy)
Leonard: Penny.
Penny: It was a letter explaining that your Dad wasn't who he said he was. Eventually his other life caught up to him and the only way to keep you and your Mom safe was to leave.
Sheldon: I would like to change mine. The pirate’s name was Peg Leg Antoine. Now it’s completely different from Goonies.
Amy: No, it’s not.
Sheldon: Don’t.
Leonard: OK, my turn. Your Dad wrote about how family is the most important thing and that you should never throw it away like he did.
Howard: Hmm.
Bernadette: Inside the envelope was a picture of your Dad holding you the day you were born. On the back he wrote: Howard, my son, my greatest gift. (Howard gets up and walks away). You, okay?
Howard: Yes. I’m terrific.
Sheldon: So? Which one do you think it is... matey?
Howard: Actually I don’t want to know. I want all of them to be true.
Leonard: Well, one of them is.
Howard: That is pretty cool. Thank you guys.

Howard: Hey, guys, come on in.
All: Hi.
Penny: Ooh, it smells good.
Bernadette: (smiles at Penny) Thanks. (reminding Sheldon happily and firmly) And, Sheldon, I know tonight’s the night you eat Thai food, so I went to the Asian market, got all the ingredients and made it from scratch.
Sheldon: (pretends to grumble) Oh, you shouldn’t have.
Bernadette: (reassuring Sheldon) Oh, it’s my pleasure.
Sheldon: (pretends to grumble again) No, you really shouldn’t have. (produces a bag of takeout Thai food) I brought my own.
(Bernadette is now extremely shockingly cross by this)
Bernadette: (asking one of the gang members crossly) You stopped and got him takeout?
Leonard: (he complains to Bernadette) I had no choice. He kept kicking the back of my seat.
(Howard stands next to the really shocked and cross Bernadette)
Bernadette: (explaining to Sheldon crossly) Sheldon, I’ve been cooking all day.
Sheldon: (thinking that she is a fool) Well, now don’t you feel silly.
(Bernadette turns to her husband with a rather firm look)
Bernadette: (she snaps to Howard crossly) Show him the closet.
(Howard does a reacting smile at his wife getting more crosser and the opening theme of "The Big Bang Theory" begins).

(The scene at Howard and Bernadette's apartment to which the six folks (minus Sheldon) are having dinner together)
Raj: These spring rolls are amazing. Good job, Bernadette.
Bernadette: (she is very cross indeed by Raj's compliment) That’s the takeout that Sheldon brought.
Raj: Oh, well, I’m sure they wouldn’t have tasted nearly as good if I hadn’t tried your food first.
(Bernadette gets mega-fully insulted, Raj thinks for little bit and Howard is about to rub his nose when Sheldon enters from the closet holding a two-shaded red shirt)
Sheldon: Howard, did you want your clothes arranged seasonally or by color?
Howard: (shiftily) Color’s fine.
Sheldon: (reacting crossly) Wrong, they’ll be arranged seasonally.
(Howard smiles reactingly)
Penny: (worried) Sheldon, aren’t you gonna spend a little time with Amy?
Amy: Oh, it’s okay, I’m used to it. The other day at Whole Foods, he spent an hour optimizing the cheese aisle.
Sheldon: Yeah, and some thanks I got. The assistant manager chased me out with an artisanal salami.
(Sheldon exits back to the closet whilst Leonard and Penny look miserable)
Amy: (with a smirk of happiness) His quirks just make you love him more.
(Penny, Leonard and Raj put on their thinking expression)
Amy: Someone please agree with me.
(Howard has a reacting chuckled face, Bernadette is still furious with some hurt feelings (as of what Sheldon did earlier), Leonard looks concerned and Penny drinks happily with herself).

Howard: Yeah, I just couldn’t sleep.
Bernadette: Told you you shouldn’t have espresso after dinner. I know the little cups make you feel big, but it’s not worth it.
Howard: It’s this stupid letter.
Howard: No.
Howard: Of course I’m curious. I haven’t seen the man since, oh, I was a little kid. And a letter shows up on my 18th birthday? What’s that about?
Bernadette: Why don’t you read it? Maybe he apologizes or explains why he left.
Howard: He abandoned me and my mother. Why does he deserve a chance to explain anything?
Bernadette: I get that. So, what do you want to do with it?
Howard: Something I should have done a long time ago. (Sets fire to it)
Bernadette: (rather shocked and cross) Really? Are you sure?
Howard: Yep.
Howard: I do. (Smoke alarm goes off) Great. Neither one of us is tall enough to reach that.

Amy: I can’t believe he set it on fire.
Bernadette: (she is very worried) Yeah, just seeing that letter really freaked him out. And he was already having a tough day ’cause he accidentally wore my pants to work.
(Penny put on a reacting smile by this and Amy puts on an odd twitchy lip expression)
Bernadette: (concerned and cross) I don’t know why he was upset. They were bigger on him than me.
(Penny turns a little bit sad for minute)
Amy: (in a low voice of disappointment) Boy, I’m really curious what was in that letter.
Bernadette: (she is very worried once again) Me, too, but I guess now we’ll never know.
Bernadette: (in a tiny tone of anger) I can’t do that. What kind of wife would I be if I didn’t respect my husband’s privacy?
Penny: What if I ask Sheldon, you just happen to be in the room?
Penny: Okay.
(The start to make for the laundry room together)

Penny: The letter was found in Bernadette's closet. Doesn't that count for something?
Sheldon: Are you pointing out that California is a community property state and since Howard and Bernadette are married the intellectual property contained in that letter is jointly owned by the two spouses?
Penny: (Hesitates while thinking) Yeah, obviously.
Sheldon: Well played. Sometimes I don't give you enough credit, Penny.

Howard: Sheldon, I swear to God, I’m gonna kill you!
Amy: Hey!
Howard: What? Us? Who else knows?
Penny: I know.
Amy: Me, too.
Leonard: Same here.
Raj: Shame on all of you.
Leonard: You know, too.
Raj: Couldn't leave him one friend, could you?
Howard: So everybody knows what’s in that letter except for me?
Sheldon: Yes, it’s six against one. Stand down, sir.
Howard: How could you do this?
Raj: If you want, we could tell you.
Howard: No, I don’t want to know. I mean, I do, but… I got to go.
Amy: (completely angry) Use me as a human shield?
Sheldon: I panicked! He looked taller than usual.

Howard: You said clean up. I’m cleaning up.
Bernadette: (not very happy) You can’t just throw everything in the closet.
Howard: Hey, you can tell me what to do or you can tell me how to do it, but you can’t do both. This isn’t sex.
Bernadette: (sounding very worried) What if someone looks in there?
Howard: They’re just coming over for dinner. No one’s gonna look in the closet.
Bernadette: (sounding even more worried)Well, you don’t know that. What if someone’s looking for the bathroom and they open that door?
Howard: Could work out. For all we know there’s a toilet in there somewhere.
Bernadette: (quietly and crossly) Fine. But after tonight we need to get a handle on this mess.
Howard: You know what we should do? We should show the closet to Sheldon.
Bernadette: (sounding a little bit puzzled) Why?
Howard: Are you kidding? He’s like a savant at organizing. Everything in his apartment has a label on it. Including his label maker, which has a label that says label maker. And if you look really close at that label maker label, you’ll see a label that says label.
Bernadette: (rather shocked in surprise) He’s our guest, we can’t just ask him to straighten our closet.
Howard: No, we wouldn’t ask him. We’d just show him the closet and let the goblins in his head take it from there.

Penny: Hey, it’s still early. Why don’t we go back and have that party?
Raj: Yeah,
Leonard: Yeah, cool.
Amy: Okay.
Sheldon: You know, surprisingly, uh, the letter from your father wasn’t the most interesting thing I read in the closet. Bernadette’s diary has some saucy passages.
(Howard looks shocked for a second and Bernadette is now very cross with Sheldon)
Bernadette: (yells at Sheldon crossly) Sheldon, don’t you dare.
Sheldon: (reassures her) There’s nothing to worry about. Your secret’s safe with me.
Bernadette: (she is still very cross) That’s more like it.
(Bernadette has now left hers and Howard's apartment in a huff)
Sheldon: (speaks to Howard) Although copyright law would allow me to quote snippets in the context of a review.
(He stares at Howard for a second and exits. Howard has nothing more to say by this point)

Howard: Me, too. If I’d known we were gonna be dancing, would have worn my flats.
Penny: (laughing) This turned out pretty well, huh?
Leonard: (grinning) Yeah, I think so.
Raj: I agree. That is, if you’ve never been to or heard of a party before.
(Penny reacts at what Raj had said)
Amy: If you’d let me pierce your brain with a hot needle in the right place, you’d be happy all the time.
(Raj puts on an odd expression his face to what Amy said as it is meant to be good or bad and a strppy Sheldon opens the door and enters the apartment)
Sheldon: Uh, Penny, I, I have a couple of questions about your closet. Is there any reason you’re keeping this dead goldfish?
Penny: (with a loud shock of sadness) Damn, I forgot to feed him. (She then puts on a cross reaction) And that I had him.
Sheldon: Well, now, did you also have a dog? Because I found what appears to be a battery-operated chew toy.
Penny: (with a loud yell of embarrassment) Party’s over! Party’s over!
(She pushes Sheldon out of the apartment and runs with him)