The Big Bang Theory

The Re-Entry Minimization

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The Re-Entry Minimization
S6EP04 - Howard confronting Stuart
The Big Bang Theory episode
Season 6, Episode 4
October 18, 2012
Guest star(s)
Episode guide

"The Higgs Boson Observation"

"The Holographic Excitation"
Season guide

Season 5

Season 7

"The Re-Entry Minimization" is the fourth episode of the sixth season of the American sitcom The Big Bang Theory. This episode first aired on Thursday, October 18, 2012.[1]


Howard has returned to Earth to a very disappointing welcome where everyone is busy. Meanwhile, it's Penny and Amy versus Leonard and Sheldon in a battle of the sexes during game night.

Extended PlotEdit


Finally in Bernadette's arms.

Over dinner, the gang can't wait for Howard to return. Sheldon tells Stuart that he had a good run as the "fake Wolowitz", but an offer for 30% off comic books from Stuart makes Sheldon change his mind and say, "Welcome aboard, old chum." Sheldon also commends Howard with, "he left a boy and returned a boy-size hero." Howard and his fellow astronauts plummet through the atmosphere with Howard alternately praying and screaming. He feels a jerk and remarks that "that wasn't so bad". Unfortunately that jerk was the parachutes opening and they have six more miles to go. Howard starts screaming again.

Howard feels dejected when he finds out that his friends are not waiting for him at the airport at the request of Bernadette. In the waiting room he hears shouts of "Howie, Howie", but the reporters present are covering the arrival of comedian Howie Mandel (who doesn't believe that Howard is an astronaut). At Bernadette's (their?) apartment she dresses in a negligee and tells him that it's like their honeymoon since he left right after their wedding ceremony. After coughing a few times due to an allergy, she falls asleep on him from the Benadryl. Later, Howard goes to his mother's house where she doesn't let him in. He hears a man's voice which his mother says is the television and then Howard's dentist, whom she is having an affair with, hops out the window. Howard's next stop his is Raj's who is very glad to see him. The twist is that Stuart is now living with him and they have tickets to the sold out Sound of Music sing-along. Howard leaves them to their night out.

S6EP04 - contest

Spinning math game.

S6EP04 - A pie contest


At the apartment, Sheldon laments that he wasn't getting to see Howard's expression that night when he gives him his admiration for the first time. Amy and Penny are playing Pictionary against Leonard and Sheldon. Sheldon's drawing concepts and guesses are too complicated for Leonard and the girls win. For the word "polish", Sheldon draws things that are Polish like sausage, while Penny waits a few minutes to enjoy his act and then draws a hand, paints the nails and Amy says (nail) polish. Then they tell the boys that they can beat them in any contest. Penny does not want to play "Physics Fiesta" where physics questions are given in Spanish since Sheldon just made up the game. Sheldon doesn't want to play darts, pool, beer pong, or have a wet t-shirt contest since they are bar games and Penny has been going to bars since she was of age. Amy suggests water polo and Operation using real cadavers. Next, Amy and Leonard try Where's Waldo? without their glasses and Amy wins. Penny and Sheldon try a contest where they are spinning around a light saber and then rush over to do a division problem while still dizzy. Penny beats Sheldon at mathematics because he falls over and knocks down his whiteboard. Next, Penny is wrestling with Sheldon who is pinned almost instantly and can't get up. Then Penny has to try and kiss Sheldon. Sheldon asks Amy to do something, so she joins in also kissing him.

Finally, it is a standard state fair pie eating contest. After they start, Howard shows up, they all look up with their faces covered with blueberry pie filling, and yell "not now!"

Finally, Howard ends up at a diner where the waitress recognizes him and offers him a free piece of cheesecake. Howard starts to tell her his problems and she replies asking whether he wants the cheesecake or not. He starts eating singing "Rocket Man" quietly to himself. A quick sneeze makes him think that he caught something from Bernadette and he says "perfect".


  • The TV Critic: "It’s no surprise that the comic ambition of the show would have atrophied after six seasons. It’s just a shame when at one stage the writers were so close to crafting something really good."[2]
  • The A.V. Club gave this episode an A-.[3]
  • IMDb user reviews


  • Title Reference: The title refers to Howard's return to Earth and his disappointing reception in Pasadena.
  • Chuck Lorre's vanity card.
  • This episode was watched by 15.73 million people with a rating of 4.8 (adults 18-49).[4]
  • Total viewers including DVR users 19.87 million.
  • This episode aired in Canada on October 18, 2012 with 4.565 million viewers and a weekly ranking of #1.[5]
  • In England, this episode aired on December 6, 2012 with 2.772 million total viewers.[6]

Costume NotesEdit

  • Penny's red shirt with two pockets is no longer available from Target.


  • After Raj mentions that Howard's Soyuz capsule should be re-entering Earth's atmosphere, he exclaims "The Fantastic Four reunited!" Fittingly, the members of that superhero team are astronauts, led by aerospace engineer Mister Fantastic (Reed Richards). Further references to the Fantastic Four in previous episodes consist of citing issues of the Marvel Comics series. In "The Jiminy Conjecture", Howard wagers his Fantastic Four #48, first appearance of Silver Surfer. In "The Excelsior Acquisition", Leonard ponders whether he should select his copy of Fantastic Four #5, first appearance of Doctor Doom, to be autographed by Stan Lee. In "The Countdown Reflection", Howard gives the guys mint condition issues of Fantastic Four Annual #3 from 1965 (the one where Mister Fantastic and the Invisible Girl get married) as a groomsmen gift before his wedding.
  • When playing Pictionary, Sheldon draws unnecessarily complicated and extraordinarily confusing pictures; he also did exactly the same in "The Bozeman Reaction". His interpretations of others' pictographic representations in the game are similarly convoluted. For instance, when Leonard depicts a chocolate chip cookie on the whiteboard, Sheldon initially inputs that it is an illustration of a quark-gluon plasma (QGP), specifically asymptotically free partons in a quark-gluon plasma. In the quark matter phase diagram, QGP is placed in the high-temperature, high-density regime; whereas, ordinary matter is a cold and rarefied mixture of nuclei and vacuum. This exotic phase, which constitutes the primordial soup of matter that existed only split-seconds after the Big Bang, consists of a number of point-like constituents – asymptotically free quarks and gluons, collectively termed "partons". Following the rejection of his first answer, he surmises that it must then be an observational rebuttal of the ΛCDM model of the universe, as there is no glass of milk to accompany it. The current standard model of the universe, Lambda-Cold Dark Matter (ΛCDM), assumes that the universe is expanding in accordance with the geometrical term Λ (Lambda) – which represents the cosmological constant used in Einstein’s general relativity. Cold dark matter is then assumed to be the scaffolding that underlies the distribution of visible matter at a large scale across the universe. Leonard's picture, on the other hand, resembles a model of Einstein's static universe, in which spacetime is neither expanding nor contracting.
  • Second reference made to asymptotic freedom. Previously, in "The Hamburger Postulate", Leslie Winkle had corrected the sign of the beta function of quantum chromodynamics (QCD) appearing on Sheldon's whiteboard, permitting him to show that quarks are asymptotically free at high-energies.
  • Just before Kaley Cuoco plunges her face in the blueberry pie, she takes one worried look at the camera like she's saying, "Here I go, folks!"

    Kaley looking at the audience before her fateful pie plunge.

  • First time in season 6 that Howard appears on camera with the other regular cast members. 
  • Second episode where a female character gets sick and spreads their disease onto a male character. First was "The Large Hadron Collision".
  • Second episode where Howard screams. First was "The Alien Parasite Hypothesis".
  • Third episode where Leonard lack of his glasses renders him visually-impaired. Others were "The Pancake Batter Anomaly" and "The Prestidigitation Approximation". Amy is revealed to have visual impairment without her glasses too.


Penny: Boys vs Girls.
Sheldon: That's not fair. Any team that I'm not on has a decided disadvantage.

(Sheldon doing hand gestures)
Leonard: Sausage? Unidentified flying liverwurst?

Penny: Oh my god, we're gonna kill them.

Sheldon: He left a boy. He returns a boy-sized hero.

Howard: We did it! We survived!
Mike: That was the parachute. We still have another 6 miles to go.

Leonard: Sheldon, we haven't won a single game all night. Now either you put your face in that pie or I'm gonna put that pie in your face!

Amy: All right, let's keep this simple. How about darts?
Sheldon: No, that's not fair either.
Penny: Why not?
Sheldon: Darts is a bar game. You've been frequenting drinking establishments since you were of legal age.
Leonard: Yeah, that's when it started.
Sheldon: Well, regardless, she has a distinct advantage in all term-based competitions. Pool, beer pong, wet T-shirt contests, they're all out.
Penny: Okay. Just for the record, I have never entered a wet T-shirt contest, I've won a few, but that's just because I spill when I'm drunk.


  • The front page of the script of the episode.
  • A "behind-the-scenes" look at the filming of a scene from the episode.
  • New opening dinner scene with Amy and Bernadette.
  • Penny wrestling with Sheldon.
  • Pie eating contest.
  • Finding Waldo.
  • Figuring out what game to play.
  • Re-entering the atmosphere.
  • Drugged Bernie falls to sleep on Howard.
  • Howard returns finding Raj busy.
  • His dentist is climbing out of his mother's window.
  • Spinning math contest.
  • Pie eating contest. Not now!!!!!!
  • Howard is home in Bernie's arms.
  • The other Howie arrives.
  • Kaley breaking the fourth wall and looking at the audience just before she jams her face into a pie for the sake of her art.
  • Is Amy doing her "Blossom" impression?
  • Chuck Lorre Productions, #394.
  • Penny kissing Sheldon.
  • Howard visiting Raj.
  • Playing Where's Waldo?
  • Sheldon describing the "present".
  • It's a chocolate chip cookie.
  • Sheldon's clues for Polish.
  • Howard screaming during reentry.

See alsoEdit


  1. The Big Bang Theory - The Re-Entry Minimization (TV Episode 2012) - IMDb
  2. The TV Critic's Review
  3. The Big Bang Theory: “The Re-Entry Minimization” - TV Club - The A.V. Club
  4. Live+7 DVR Ratings: 'Modern Family' Leads Adults 18–49 Ratings and Viewership Gains; 'Grimm' Biggest Percentage Gains in Week 4 - Zap2it
  5. Top Programs – Total Canada (English) October 15 – October 21, 2012 - BBM Canada
  6. BARB via Wikipedia

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