"The Big Bang Theory" The Electric Can Opener Fluctuation (TV Episode 2009) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • Immediately upon the guys' arrival back from the three month long Arctic expedition, Leonard, Howard and Raj make a confession to Sheldon about their participation in Sheldon's research at the North Pole. This confession threatens Sheldon's research, his job and his friendship with the threesome. Sheldon's mother may at least have the answer to fixing the friendship. Meanwhile, Penny is really happy to see Leonard home. Leonard is equally happy to be home to see Penny. But every time they are about ready to embark on their first sexual encounter with each other, something always seems to get in the way.

  • After returning from the North Pole, a conflict among the guys sends Sheldon back to Texas and interferes with Leonard's reunion with Penny.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • The boys are finally back from the Arctic Circle. Although one wonders if Sheldon had spent more time with the razor and scissors, as he bears more of a resemblance to the evil Mr. Spock (or perhaps Howie Mandel with hair) than the Geico Insurance cavemen look the other three were sporting. Naturally, Sheldon thought the expedition went wonderfully. Perhaps it was because his mom's church group prayed for his safety. (Well, she thinks it worked and told Sheldon that.) To be fair, Leonard found the return home pretty good. Of course, having Penny practically jump him, kiss him passionately, and drag him into her apartment might have had something to do with it.

    HOWARD: Dammit. I should have gone over and told her we were back.

    RAJ: (sarcastically) Yeah. It was "first come, first serve."

    To say Sheldon was pleased with the results of his experiments would be an understatement. Although he appreciated the contributions of Howard and Raj, he can't mention them in his Nobel acceptance speech. However, they will get an effusive footnote (and a signed copy!) of his memoirs. This would probably be a good time to tell Sheldon the truth, since Sheldon's Vulcan hearing can pick up whispers from another room. Sheldon thinks they want to talk about having to sleep together naked to conserve body heat the one night the power went out. What Sheldon thought were magnetic monopoles he discovered to prove String Theory correct were actually caused by operating the electric can opener and causing static. The reason they did that is because Sheldon wasn't finding any at first and he started acting like an obnoxious giant dictator.

    RAJ: I thought we were going to be gentle with him.

    HOWARD: That's why I added the "-tator".

    It helped the guys from not wanting to kill Sheldon because it made him colon-Capital D. (in the world of emoticons) Finding this out made Sheldon become colon-Captial O. He feels betrayed, especially by Leonard.

    Sheldon demands to see Leonard, who would prefer not interrupting his makeout session with Penny. (BTW Kaley, whatever you were doing during hiatus, keep doing that.) Since Leonard refuses to answer to Sheldon's knock, Sheldon decides to demand to talk to Penny.

    SHELDON: I realize you're currently at the mercy of your primitive biological urges, but as you have a lifetime of poor decisions ahead of you, may I interrupt this one?

    Sheldon tells how the three fed him false data in his experiments. Penny wants to know why. Leonard says it was to keep him happy and prevent them from throwing Sheldon's Kindle outside and then locking him out when he went to get it.

    SHELDON: That seems like a bit of an overreaction!

    LEONARD: No. An overreaction would be to tie your limbs to 4 different sled dog teams and yell "mush!"

    The original data was still available, but Sheldon already sent an email claiming he solved String Theory. Sending a retraction email would humiliate Sheldon in front of the whole university. Penny takes Sheldon's side in this and goes to talk to him. She tries her best, even singing Soft Kitty, which only works when he is sick. He's unconsolable, since not only was the three months at the North Pole for nothing, he missed Comic Con. Penny tries, though. She tells him a story about being told a rumor she would be head cheerleader in high school before they named Valerie Mossbacher head cheerleader (the big ol' slutbag!). She was devastated. Her mom even made her a celebratory pie.

    SHELDON: Are you saying a celebration pie is even comparable to a Nobel prize?

    PENNY: Well, they're pretty tasty.

    SHELDON: And on a different but not unrelated topic, based on your efforts to buoy my spirits, do you think you were ever fit to be a cheer-LEADER?

    OK, one more try. Penny tries to compare what the guys did to the new Star Trek movie when Kirk took over the ship and told Spock all those things that weren't true, like not caring his mother died.

    SHELDON: I missed Comic Con AND the new Star Trek movie!!! (he's bawling like a 3-year-old)

    At the university, the guys have shaved, except for Howard's mustache. (the "Clooney" or the "Mario and Luigi", depending on your opinion) Leonard is spared having to give too many details about whether he and Penny had sex as Sheldon comes in and refuses to sit with them...and unsuccessfully tries to choke Leonard by using The Force. They try to apologize again, but he's not having it. Having Kripke come in and telling Sheldon he "destwoyed his weputation" with the retwaction email didn't help. Sheldon tries to defend himself to the cafeteria by invoking the "biggest blunder" Einstein admitted to, but since that blunder was later proven correct, that makes Sheldon a big "woser."

    Leonard returns to Penny to give her the gift he wanted before getting interrupted: a preserved snowflake from the North Pole. He begins to explain how he preserved it, but this apparently is the most effective way to get Penny to kiss him. He is again interrupted by Howard and Raj, who report that Sheldon has resigned from the university and went back to Texas, based on the phone call Leonard receives from Sheldon's mother. Her powers of persuasion are not limited to working on Sheldon, as the three of them are on a plane to Texas to bring him back. (Penny promises to still be there when they get back.)

    LEONARD: I don't want to go to Texas!

    HOWARD: And I do? My people already crossed the desert once. We're done!

    At home, Sheldon is getting used to doing things the way he used to, which includes prayer before every meal. But his mom was nice enough to cut a smiley face into his grilled cheese, so a little "God's neat, let's eat" never hurt anybody. She recalls that they had sat together like this when he was a kid, when the neighborhood kids would hate him. Sheldon thinks they were too stupid to know they hated him because of his intelligence, but actually they did know that.

    Leonard, Howard, and Raj make it down there. Raj is disappointed he won't get to see a cattle drive, but at least they have steaks on sale at the Costco. It turns out Raj can't talk to Sheldon's mother, either. However, a woman at her church might be able to do a healing thing she does with the crutch and wheelchair crowd, and she might be willing to take a shot at "whatever Third World demon is rolling around" in him. Leonard wants to get back to L.A. quickly. ("A girl? I've been praying for you.") She calls Sheldon out, but Sheldon refuses their apology, as he is convinced he is now destined to teach Evolution to a bunch of Creationists.

    MRS. COOPER: You watch your mouth, Shelly. Everyone's entitled to their opinion.

    SHELDON: Evolution is not opinion, it's fact.

    MRS. COOPER: And that is YOUR opinion!


    SHELDON: I forgive you. Let's go home!

    MRS. COOPER: Don't tell me prayer doesn't work!

    Finally returning to L.A. Leonard can get back to Penny, and they FINALLY have sex! Leonard doesn't see why it has to be weird for friends to have sex. They were friends, and now they're more than friends. It is what it is.

    PENNY: Leonard? It's weird.

    LEONARD: Totally.

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