The Big Bang Theory 10.20: “The Recollection Dissipation” Review

NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “The Big Bang Theory” are present in this review



The Big Bang Theory has had an especially rough 2017 so far, but at least the show rebounded a bit this week. “The Recollection Dissipation” managed to thrive on a decent core plot that was upheld with some reliably wacky Sheldon humour, even as the subplot still felt like a bit of a waste, failing to fully realize an initially promising conflict with Bernadette.

The main plot does change gears halfway through, but at least it managed to stitch together two decent concepts to make for a reasonably funny core storyline this week. Things begin with Sheldon working too hard to both collaborate with Amy, and on the gyroscope project, meaning that he quickly starts to burn himself out. This might have been funny on its own, especially when Sheldon’s delicate body means that he quickly gets a cold, but that’s not the end of it. Oh, and apparently, Sheldon even sustained a nosebleed off-screen while watching Frozen, if Penny is to be believed, so maybe it’s predictable that this isn’t the end of it!

Apparently, Sheldon wakes up with an entire memory from the previous day being gone, shortly after getting his cold under control. After determining that he took cold medicine, which somehow made him so loopy that he forget everything he did (just go with it), he discovers that his notebook is missing. This would be merely annoying, save for the fact that Sheldon’s notebook is full of top-secret information regarding the gyroscope project, which Sheldon can’t disclose, under pain of a possible prison sentence!

Yeah, it’s true that Sheldon getting so loopy from cold medicine that he has an entire whimsical adventure for a day, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense from a real-world context. If you can suspend your disbelief about how cold medicine actually works though, there is a decently amusing The Hangover-inspired story nugget in this plotline. It can only last so long, due to the constrained half-hour space, but somehow, Jim Parsons capitalizes on several surprisingly effective jokes, which help to distract from how unrealistic the storyline is.

Eventually, everyone follows the evidence with Sheldon to a cowboy bar, which Sheldon apparently danced at, and divulged all of the notebook’s contents to. Again, you have to suspend your disbelief with this a bit, especially in Sheldon somehow winning over an entire cowboy bar with math jargon, but either way, some of the gags here were pretty amusing. Sheldon going to prison is indeed a funny thought too, as Leonard claims, which will probably almost make viewers sorry that it didn’t happen in the end, or so it appears. If Sheldon does get caught for divulging the information over the next couple of episodes, sending him to the slammer would be a pretty solid cliffhanger device for the season finale next month, especially now that we know that The Big Bang Theory is definitely coming back for an eleventh season in the Fall.

The subplot meanwhile, like I said, centered on Bernadette. This storyline started off well enough, with Bernadette preparing to make arrangements to return to work, only to struggle with the idea of abandoning Halley. Stuart tries to help her through the situation, even though he gets banned from Halley’s hopeful preschool grounds in the process (I can’t say I blame them), leaving Bernadette worried about telling Howard how she feels… For some reason. Yeah, it’s never quite clear as to why Bernadette cares if Howard knows that she’s worried about going back to work. Isn’t that kind of insecurity what Howard is supposedly there for?

From there, the subplot devolves into another poorly-realized non-conflict, which Season Ten has suffered from quite a bit across its subplots in particular. Howard inevitably finds out that Bernadette is insecure, talks her through it, and that’s really it. The rest of the subplot was anchored on jokes that ranged from acceptable to poor, especially when the show started laying a laugh track over Howard and Bernadette just stating bland, straightforward truths. That’s not a joke, CBS, that’s stating a fact! The Big Bang Theory has enough issues with its more apparent age lately, without developing ‘Full(er) House Syndrome’, namely by trying to use an overbearing laugh track to disguise non-jokes that aren’t actually funny, and often don’t even have an actual punch line.

Even with the subplot being the latest fumble for The Big Bang Theory though, at least the main Sheldon plot compensated with some better jokes and, if nothing else, a decent sense of novelty. “The Recollection Dissipation” nicely made up for its silly storytelling with Sheldon by at least writing solid gags, especially when they come with the promise of Sheldon potentially getting in big trouble for his cold medicine-fueled odyssey. We’ll have to see if Sheldon’s mishap at the cowboy bar will come back to haunt him later, but for now, I’m just happy that an episode of The Big Bang Theory actually put a smile on my face for the first time in a while, even if it was still hardly perfect.

The Big Bang Theory offered a fairly amusing main storyline with a memory-impaired Sheldon this week, even if Bernadette's latest issues felt noticeably more dull.
Reader Rating1 Votes
Sheldon's Hangover-esque memory lapse
The amusing implication that Sheldon could go to jail
A few amusing moments with Stuart
Bernadette's insecurity isn't that interesting or funny
Bernadette hiding her insecurity from Howard doesn't make sense
Sheldon's cold medicine symptoms are pretty unrealistic