Big Bang Theory – The Closet Reconfiguration

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by Kevin Rigdon (@pralix1138)

The newest episode of The Big Bang Theory, “The Closet Reconfiguartion,” is full of adult-like behavior. For example, how do you clean your closet? Well, if you don’t have a house elf, the first thing you would do is invite an OCD friend over who’s proven that he’s willing to break in to a stranger’s apartment to clean and organize. Then, show said friend your incredibly untidy closet. Sit back and enjoy conversation with other adults while cleaning and organizing ensues. Easy peasy.

This is the solution for Howard and Bernadette. The couple invite their friends over for a dinner party and decide to let Sheldon see the closet after some classic Sheldon-like behavior. He gets immediately to work as the rest of the group sits down to enjoy a nice home-cooked meal. During his maniacal cleaning, Sheldon happens upon an unopened letter to Howard from his father. In an effort to ascertain how to sort the letter, he opens it, and as he does, commits it to his eidetic memory.

Howard doesn’t want to know what’s in the letter, but Bernadette, and by extension Amy and Penny, are far more interested, and through a series of tricksy argumentation, they get Sheldon to tell them. So, faster than gossip can reach critical mass through their little social group, everyone, save Howard, knows the contents of the letter. Before discovering this knowledge, Howard decides to put matters to rest once and for all, and burns the letter.

There’s a really interesting thing going on here. It seems Howard doesn’t want even a single reminder of his father and the pain of being left when he was a child. I think we can all get that. Quite understandable. Bernadette behaves like most spouses would when she wants Sheldon to tell her the contents. She may well think that Howard made a mistake when he burns it, and wants the information-that link to Howard’s father-kept because some day he’ll want it as well. So, she decides to save him from himself.

At the next dinner party, this one thrown by Leonard and Penny, Howard finds out that everyone else knows the contents of the letter and he runs out. I actually loved how they approach what comes next. All his friends, even Sheldon who’s technically a “treasured acquaintance” come and tell him and simultaneously don’t tell him what was in Howard’s father’s letter. Each person presents an account of the contents which may or may not be true. So that way, Howard can both know, and not know, what his father told him when he, Howard, was eighteen years old.

Now, Howard can believe it contained either a Far Side birthday card with a frog, a treasure map to One-Eyed Willie’s lost treasure, or the fact that his father secretly came to Howard’s graduation and cried from pride, or an explanation that Howard’s father had to leave them in order to keep them safe. It might’ve been an exhortation that family is the most important thing and Howard shouldn’t throw it away like his father did, or it was a picture of Howard as a baby being held by his father with the words: “Howard, my son, my greatest gift.” This was an amazingly beautiful gift for Howard, and shows how much they’ve all grown as a community.

Inspired by the success in Howard’s closet, Penny gets Sheldon to clean hers. He finds a dead goldfish and a “battery operated chew toy” … “for a dog.” There are little nuggets of funny throughout the emotionally charged episode that help us remember that it is still a comedy, but that they can be trusted to handle tough subjects with responsibility. Many of us have been abandoned by a parent, a spouse, a friend. Many deal with the torture of that for a long time, possibly a lifetime. It is wonderful to see how a group of friends, and one treasured acquaintance, can support one another, and even help one to overcome those issues while keeping his free will intact. Great writing. Great acting. Great handling of something that hits home for a lot of us.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars


    One Comment

  1. EirikaMarch 15th, 2013 at 10:09 am

    Loved this recap!

    I was definitely surprised at how emotional the episode was and am glad the writers are developing the supporting characters more. 🙂

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