I love a good, deep episode every once in awhile. They bring
up character points you didn’t even know you needed, letting actors exercise with
that much more legroom.
Yes, even in the context of Howard Wolowitz. I really did just say he needed the legroom.
During Howard and Bernadette’s dinner party, they send Sheldon into the back closet to organize, where he finds an unopened (well…previously unopened) letter from Howard’s father. The patriarch left Howard and his mother when Howard was a boy, as we’d gathered from many a front-porch screaming match. Howard, angry for the incident and unforgiving to this day, refused to open the note when he received it on his eighteenth birthday. Even after wheedling, Howard declines to learn of its contents and, later that evening, burns it.
But Bernadette couldn’t rest not knowing—how better to help
her husband? She, Penny, and Amy corner Sheldon for the info, followed suit by
Raj and Leonard, the latter duo planning a second (better) dinner party. Were
the others on their reasoning game, or was Sheldon remarkably off it?
And was Sheldon really content with keeping a secret like that? I sense character development from the twitchy days of aliases on bar napkins.
During Leonard’s gathering, Howard discovers Sheldon’s betrayal and leaves, enraged. The friends—and they really do look like friends, in this scene--follow him back to his apartment then, with what Leonard deems is a “cool solution”: they each give an account of what was in the letter, one of which is true. Howard needn’t ask which—from hearing them all, he hears the truth sometime.
Spoiler alert: With the exception of Sheldon’s story, a tale similar to the Goonies plot, they’re all really sad.
I didn’t waste time being frustrated that we, as the
audience, never learned the letter’s true stipulations ourselves; I think that’s
a fitting point. It puts us in Howard’s shoes, the receiver’s shoes, makes us
more empathetic and emotional. Way to go CBS.
Though I personally wouldn’t have picked heeled-boot shoes for the occasion.