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"The Comic Book Store Regeneration" is the fifteenth episode of the eighth season of the American sitcom The Big Bang Theory. The episode aired on Thursday, February 19, 2015.

Summary

Amy is helping Barry Kripke and doing experiments on her friends. Stuart reopens his comic book store, while Howard is furious that Stuart is using his mother's furniture for his store. Howard's mother dies while visiting his aunt in Florida.

Extended Plot

Sheldon and Amy are eating lunch in Amy's lab and Sheldon tells her a science joke. "How many Edisons does it take to screw in a light bulb? None; he stole the idea and doesn't deserve his own joke. Jokes should entertain and inform." Barry Kripke shows up with a thank-you gift for Amy, who helped him with a paper on string theory. He incorporated her string theory idea and has gotten a great response. Sheldon says that he'd like to read it and to send it to sheldon@bazinga.biz (bazinga.com was already taken). Kripke replies that Sheldon can suck egg and leaves. Sheldon wonders why Amy never offered to help him when he was working on string theory. Amy reminds him that she did offer to help him, but he stated that the only math biologist know is "three frog minus one frog equals two frogs." Amy thinks that Sheldon is being petty since all she did was help a fellow scientist. He reminds her of his profession rivalry with Kripke and that if they were friend, he would have told him to suck on something more pleasant, which causes Amy to giggle.

AmyGiggle

Amy giggling at Sheldon's comment.

Howard is on the phone talking to his mother, who is visiting Howard's Aunt Gladys in Florida. He remarks to Bernadette that she is finally in a place where everyone complains about how sweaty they are. Howard is not happy that his mother wants him to check in on Stuart. Who is going to check on him if he is lonely? Bernadette reminds him that he has a wife, and that things will probably change since Stuart is reopening the comic book store. Howard just wants things to get back to normal between him and his mother. Bernadette wonders what normal really is.

Sheldon is working on his laundry as Penny enters the laundry room and he explains that he is mad at Amy. Penny thinks that helping someone else is a good thing, but he's not happy since Amy is helping Kripke. Sheldon left string theory because he thought it was a dead end and by working with his rival, Amy may prove that he was wrong. He angrily balls up his dryer sheet and throws it into the dryer... well, actually, at the dryer, since he missed the opening by about a mile and a half. He apologizes that Penny had to see that display; she wishes she had a camera. Penny reminds him that he was always for the advancement of science; however, Sheldon is only interested in his advancement of science. Penny wants him to "let it go" and to talk to Amy. After berating her for what he thinks is pedestrian advice, he complains that life is giving him lemon and he doesn't know what to do about it. Penny tells him that he should shove them somewhere, with Sheldon replying that now she is getting creative.

Den10

Working in Stuart's new comic book store.

Leonard, Raj and Stuart are working in Stuart's new comic book store. Raj tells him that the place looks great and that he should have burnt it down years ago. An upset Stuart once again claims that he didn't intentionally burn it down, which earns him a "suuure, you didn't" wink from Leonard. Howard and Bernadette enter, and they both voice their appreciation for the new store... until Howard sees some of his mother's den furniture in it. This sets Howard off, who says that maybe Stuart should bring over everything else from the den including the clown art he made as a kid. Stuart shoots back that he must have spent ten whole minutes on it. Howard then retorts that maybe he should have gone to art school, opened up a failed comic book store, and mooched off somebody's mother. Bernadette wants them to leave, but Howard refuses since his mother's money help Stuart reopen the store. Leonard and Raj leave to get the party food and exit an awkward situation.

Penny and Sheldon are in her apartment as she folds laundry (the wrong way, according to Sheldon, who takes over the chore out of sheer frustration with her methods). Sheldon wants to know how to let something go. She advises him to think of something else, and he proceeds to think of a spiny anteater, though it still comes back to Kripke. Penny wants him to try visualization and to imagine his problems are a pen: he should hold the pen and then let it go; however, Sheldon imagines such a special pen that he doesn't want to get rid of it. He tries another approach, telling Penny that Amy has been giving her puzzles to compare Penny's intelligence to that of the monkeys in her lab. Penny denies it until she remembers (via flashbacks) Amy giving her some scissors to assemble, some coin to sort by size, and a banana in a Chinese puzzle box. She gets mad at Amy and Sheldon tells Penny to let it go, and that he was rooting for Penny. She finds the whole experiment very insulting to be compared to monkeys. Sheldon wants her to imagine a non-special pen, which gets him thrown out of her apartment. Sheldon's happy because his suggestion worked: he was no longer mad at Amy.

Howard and Bernadette are sitting on his mother's couch in the comic book store with Bernadette commiserating with Howard.
Den28

Nathan Fillion selfie.

Bernadette reminds him that if the comic book store does well, Stuart will be able to move out of his mother's house. Howard reluctantly agrees, then petulantly says that he didn't marry her for her to make sense, he married her so that she could blindly support him no matter how ridiculous he was. Bernadette counters that that's why she had to rewrite their wedding vows.

Raj and Leonard are at a deli picking up food for the comic book store party, when Raj spots Nathan Fillion sitting at a table eating his lunch. Raj suggests they ask him to do a guest signing at Stuart's new store. Leonard agrees, but is reluctant to approach him, because if he turns out not to be nice, it would ruin Firefly and other shows that Fillion appeared in for him. Raj counters with that the actor who played Jon Snow was a jerk to them but they still watch Game of Thrones. Leonard points out that he had been a jerk because Raj had rear-ended him. Raj countered with that he had been distracted seeing a member of the Night's Watch with a kayak strapped to his car. Raj approaches him and the man denies being an actor, then gets insulted when Raj tells him he's not that bad an actor. He again denies being who they think he is and tells them he just wants to eat his lunch.

Amy arrives at Sheldon's apartment just as Penny comes out of hers. Penny, who's still mad at Amy, goes into full-on sarcasm mode, excitedly telling Amy that she got her door open all by herself, and to celebrate, she's going to throw some feces around her cage. Amy gets mad at Sheldon for telling Penny about the tests, which causes him to quickly shut the door. They want Sheldon to open the door, but he claims to be naked. He opens the door, and while Amy gets a very good view of Sheldon, Penny quickly tells him to pull his pants up, which he proceeds to do after closing the door again. Amy then offers Penny $5.00, which is what she paid each of the undergraduate students on which she performed the same intelligence test. Penny just wants her dignity back, so Amy offers her $10.00.

Back at the deli, the man finally admits that he is Nathan Fillion, though a now-skeptical Raj wonders what he is doing eating alone in a deli. Nathan offers to have a picture taken with them, with Raj still skeptical. Nathan then asks if they want a picture of them with a guy that looks like an annoyed Nathan Fillion. That's good enough for Facebook, according to Raj, and the resulting picture shows a smiling Raj, a happy Leonard giving a thumbs-up, and an unsmiling, very annoyed Nathan Fillion.

Leonard and Penny are now on the couch at the comic book store

Den37

"I can't believe they were performing experiments on us!"

discussing how both Amy and Sheldon are doing experiments on both of them. Leonard brings up how hard the puzzle box was, with Penny expressing amazement that he couldn't get it open while she could. Amy and Sheldon walk in and Leonard and Penny say how dare they experiment on their friends and that they don't mind hurting their friends' feelings. Sheldon says, "That sounds like us," while at the exact same time Amy says, "It's not true." Howard comes in, still complaining, and Bernadette wants him to let it go. Sheldon says that he can help him with that, and tells him to picture an ordinary pen. Howard excuses himself to take a phone call while Amy asks how she can help. Penny tells her that the answer is in this puzzle box: one hand wrapped around her raised middle finger. Howard finishes his call and rejoins the gang, looking like he's in complete shock. Leonard asks if he's okay and he says he's not: his mother took a nap and never woke up. Bernadette breaks into tears and hugs him tightly, and everyone else goes over to console him. Leonard expects Sheldon to say something inappropriate. Instead, he comments, "When I lost my own father, I didn't have any friends to help me through it, but you do." Penny gets broken up and remarks that she thought that he was going to say to let it go.
Den40

"My mom died."

Later, the gang is back at Leonard and Sheldon's apartment. Raj finishes speaking to Bernadette on the phone: Howard is hanging in there, and they're leaving for Florida that night. The gang reflects on Mrs. Wolowitz's passing. Stuart can't believe she's gone, and will always be grateful to her for taking him in in his time of need, as he would have been homeless otherwise. Amy remarks that one of them would have offered him a place to stay, and Stuart retorts that he doesn't remember any offers. Raj is going to miss her, and reflects on how she made him feel welcome when he first came to America (especially when she though that Raj was the gardener the first few years). Penny reflects on how Mrs. Wolowitz had told her that she was too skinny and should eat more. Amy remarks that she had said the same thing to her, and Penny tells Amy not to take this moment from her. Sheldon didn't like the way that she yelled, but will miss it. Leonard offered to yell at him if he wanted, but Sheldon said it just wouldn't be as good. Leonard and the rest of the gang then toast Mrs. Wolowitz, saying she was a great mother to all of them (which doubled as a toast by the cast to their own "mother," the late Carol Ann Susi, may she rest in peace).

Credits

Notes

  • Title Reference: The title refers to the reopening of Stuart's comic book store.
  • Taping date: January 13, 2015
  • This episode was watched by 17,49 million people with a rating of 4.5 (adults 18-49).
  • Total viewers including DVR users 23.44 million.
  • The Big Bang Theory was ranked #x for the week ending xx January 2015.
  • This episode aired in Canada on February 19, 2015 with 4.16 million viewers with a weekly ranking of #2.
  • In Australia, it aired on March 23, 2015 with 0.94 million viewers.
  • Episode transcript [1]
  • Chuck Lorre's vanity card [2]

Critics

  • Jesse Schedeen at IGN - Since the tragic passing of actress Carol Ann Susi last November, Big Bang Theory fans have wondered how the show would move forward. Would the producers retire the Mrs. Wolowitz character altogether, or would they attempt to recast the part and keep that shrill, disembodied voice as a recurring element on the show? I think most would agree the latter option would have been a classless way of handling things. Luckily, it's a non-issue now thanks to "The Comic Book Store Regeneration." This episode allowed Susi and her character to exit the show gracefully. Though whether this was really the ideal episode to tackle that development is open for debate.
  • IMDb user reviews

Trivia

  • This episode doesn't end with audience laughter because it ends sadly.
  • Between Howard's news about his mom dying and Sheldon's comforting statement to Howard about losing his own father, there is no audience sound effects or laughter in the scene. This works perfectly, as to work with the numb silence one usually expects at horrible news.
    • The scene also shows a more caring and empathetic side of Sheldon, who shared a similar experience with losing a parent.
  • This episode marks the passing of Howard's mother and acknowledges the passing of Carol Ann Susi, the actress who played her for the last eight years.
  • Before it was decided to have Mrs. Wolowitz pass on as well, another idea that was thrown around was to have Melissa Rauch take over the voice work, due to her spot-on impression of Carol Ann Susi in the role. This would have been particularly ironic given the running gag where Howard accidentally refers to Bernadette as his mother.
  • In a recent CBS article, ‎this episode is listed as Johnny Galecki's favorite.
  • Amy is back working with primates and performing experiments on her friends, too.
  • Stuart's comic book store is reopened.
  • This is the first time in over two seasons that Sheldon used the term "Bazinga", when joking about wanting to read Kripke's paper (he used it within a fake email address).
  • Nathan Fillion guest stars in this episode.
  • Simon Helberg (Howard Wolowitz) played the role of a henchman named Moist in Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog, which is one of Nathan Fillion's works that Leonard and Raj claim to be big fans of.
  • This episode is the second time a Chinese puzzle box was used, the first being "The Terminator Decoupling" (S2E17).
  • Even though Bernadette says that she changed their wedding vows, each of them wrote their own in the wedding episode of "The Countdown Reflection" (S5E24) .
  • When the gang is recalling their experience with Ms. Wolowitz, Stuart remarks that she took him in after his store burned down; however, what actually happened was that Howard and Bernadette hired him to be Ms. Wolowitz's caregiver and Ms. W. let him stay since he had no other place to go. 
  • Sheldon is continually talking about his "letting it go" pen visualization technique, but never mentions the song from the movie "Frozen" even though he is a big Disney and cartoon fan.
  • Third episode where Sheldon accidentally says something sexual. First were "The Recombination Hypothesis" (S5E13) and "The Habitation Configuration" (S6E7).
  • Bernadette has no speaking roles with Sheldon, Penny, Leonard and Amy in this episode.

Quotes

(The ending scene of Stuart, Amy, Sheldon, Penny, Raj and Leonard in Apartment 4A getting ready to toast to the dead Mrs. Wolowitz)
Raj: Thanks, Bernadette. Okay. Okay. Bye. Well, they booked a flight. They’re heading to the airport now.
Penny: How’s Howard hanging up?
Raj: He’s hanging in there.
Leonard: How are you doing, Stuart?
Stuart: I still can’t believe she’s gone. I mean that woman took me in. If it weren't for her I would have been homeless.
Amy: One of us would have taken you in.
Stuart: Nyahh, I don’t recall any offers. But you know what? I’m a glad it worked out the way it did. I got to know this wonderful person.
Raj: Yeah. Mrs. Wolowitz was pretty special. When I first moved to America Howard was my only friend and she made me feel so welcomed in her home. Which says a lot because the first few years she thought I was the gardener.
Penny: Whenever I saw her she’d said I was too skinny and tried to feed me. {laughs}
Amy: She did that to me too.
Penny: Don’t take this away from me.
Sheldon: I didn't care for her yelling. But now that I’m not going to hear it again, I’m sad.
Leonard: If you want, I can yell at you.
Sheldon: It won’t be as good.
Leonard: Well, let’s have a toast. Mrs. Wolowitz, loving mother … to all of us. We’ll miss you.

Howard (on phone) : Okay, Ma. Say hi to Aunt Gladys. Yeah, I love you, too. Bye.
Bernadette: Your mom having fun in Florida?
Howard: Mmm, she loves it. She finally found a place where everyone talks about how sweaty they are. Anyway, she wants us to go to the house and check in on Stuart because he might be lonely.
Bernadette: She’s just being nice.
Howard: Well, I’m her son. How come she doesn't send someone to check if I’m lonely?
Bernadette: Because you have a wife.
Howard: Yeah, well, sometimes you work late.
Bernadette: I know you don’t like Stuart being in the house, but the store’s about to reopen, I’m sure he’ll get back on his feet.
Howard: That would be great. I’d love for things between me and Mom to get back to normal.
Bernadette: Well, normal’s a strong word, but sure.

Stuart: Thanks again for your help.
Leonard: No problem.
Raj: Our pleasure.
Leonard: The place really looks great.
Raj: Yeah, you should have burned it down years ago.
Stuart: I keep telling you I didn’t burn it down.
Leonard: We know, we know, because burning something down for the insurance money is a crime.
(Enter Bernadette and Howard at the doorway)
Bernadette: Stuart, this place looks amazing.
Stuart: Thanks.
Howard: You really did a nice job.
Stuart: And thank you for putting up with me staying at your mom’s through all this. I couldn’t have done it otherwise.
Howard: I appreciate that, and I’m glad you were able to… is that my mother’s furniture?
Stuart: Yeah, she said I could use it. Doesn’t it look great?
Howard: Not as great as it looks in the den where it belongs.
Bernadette: (yells at him crossly) Howie.
Howard: Why don’t you just clean out the whole room? Take the string art clown I made her in third grade and the ribbon I got in swim class for putting my face in the water.
Stuart: What is your problem? She said it was okay.
Howard: Well, I’m her son, and I say it’s not okay.
Stuart: Some son, looks like you spent ten minutes on that clown art.
Howard: Well, maybe I should’ve gone to a fancy art school like you. Then I could run a failed comic shop and mooch off some guy’s mother.
Bernadette: (she is so very cross) Why don’t we leave so you can cool off?
Stuart: I think that’s a good idea. Take him out of my store.
Howard: Your store? My mother gave you the money to reopen. I’m not going anywhere.
Leonard: Why don’t we go get the food for the party.
Stuart: Thank you.
Raj: Smart, looks like we’re being helpful.
Leonard: Mmm, when really we’re just exiting an uncomfortable situation.
(Leonard and Raj exit the store)

(The scene at the new comic store)
Bernadette: I understand why you’re upset, but he worked really hard to get the store ready. And it’s just furniture.
Howard: It’s my Mom’s furniture. It belongs in the house I grew up in plain view of what for a ten year old was a quality piece of string art.
Bernadette: (informs Howard crossly) Howie, if the store succeeds he’ll have a source of income and can move out of your mother’s house. I think some old furniture is a reasonable price to pay for that.
Howard: That is a good point. But I didn't marry you for good points I married you so that you would blindly support me no matter how ridiculous I’m going to be.
Bernadette: This is why I had to rewrite our wedding vows.

Penny: Hey, did you see that? I figured out to open the door all by myself. Maybe I’ll fling some feces around my cage to celebrate!
Amy: What are you talking about?
Penny: I know you’ve been giving me secret puzzle tests.
Amy: Sheldon, open the door.
Sheldon: I can’t. I’m naked.
Amy: I just saw you.
Sheldon: Hang on.
Penny: Open the door now.
Amy: Oh, hey.
Penny: (sternly) Pull up your pants!
Amy: It’s not a big deal. I run tests like this on undergrads all the time. If you fill out some paperwork at the university, I can get you five dollars.
Penny: (still very angry) I don’t want five dollars. I want my dignity.
Amy: So what are we talking, like, ten bucks?



[The scene at the new comic store where Leonard and Penny are sitting on Howard's mom's old furniture]
Leonard: I can’t believe they did that.
Penny: I know, it’s so insulting. At one point, they had me figure out how to get a banana out of a puzzle box.
Leonard: Wait, Sheldon gave me a banana in a box. He was testing me, too.
Penny: Unbelievable.
Leonard: And how could a chimp even solve that? That was impossible.
Penny: Really? You couldn’t get it out?
(The scene of Raj opening the door to let ?Amy and Sheldon in)
Sheldon: Thank you.
Amy: Wow, the store looks great.
Leonard: So you guys were testing us both? What is the matter with you?
Penny: Eh, what’s the matter with them is they think they’re so smart, they don’t care if they hurt other people’s feelings.
Amy: (grumpily) That’s not true.
Sheldon: That sounds like us. I still don’t understand why you’re upset. You solved every puzzle faster than all of the chimps.
Amy: Well, except Barnabas, but he was on Adderall.
[The scene of the aggressive Howard and Bernadette entering the store through the back door]
Howard: (complaining) I’m sorry, but it’s making me crazy.
Bernadette: (totally upset and very angry) Can you please just let it go?
Sheldon: Oh, I can help you with that. Imagine you’re holding an ordinary pen. While your favourite pen is safe and secure in your pocket.
[Here is the sound of Howard's phone ringing from the pocket of his pants]
Howard: Hold that thought. (On phone) Hello?
Amy: How can I make this up to you?
Penny: (holds up her right hand with her middle finger raised while it's covered by her left hand) The answer’s in this puzzle box. Let’s see if you can open it.
Bernadette: (snaps at Stuart crossly) You could have at least warned him about the furniture.
Raj: That’s what I said when we moved it.
Bernadette: (extremely surprised and very cross) You helped him?
Raj: No, Stuart picked out those throw pillows all on his own.
[Bernadette starts to shake her head sadly when the scenes pans to a concerned Leonard and a not-so-good Howard]
Leonard: Hey, you okay?
Howard: (sounding completely upset) No.
Leonard: What’s wrong?
Howard: (with a loud piece of sadness) My mom died.
Bernadette: (with a completely quiet and sad shock) What?
Howard: Uh, that was my aunt. Ma took a nap. She never woke up.
(Bernadette now begins to weep and goes up to cuddle Howard)
Bernadette: Oh, my god, Howie. (Crying).
Leonard: I’m so sorry.
Raj: What can we do?
Howard: I don’t know.
Sheldon: May I say something?
Leonard: Not right now, Sheldon.
Sheldon: But I think it would be comforting.
Leonard: Buddy…
Howard: No, it’s okay. What?
Sheldon: When I lost my own father I didn't have any friends to help me through it. You do.
Penny: (sobbing) I really thought he was going to say “Let it go”.

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