I've had moments in my life when I realized that somewhere along the line I've really messed up. When these epiphanies hit, and they pack a wallop, they are the harbingers of choice as I'm faced with continuing as I was doing or else make a change. This is what Sheldon faces in tonight's episode.
In the late Leonard Nimoy's documentary about Spock, Sheldon is interviewed to give his input about what Spock means to him. He remembered the first episode he saw and how Spock's devotion to unemotional logic fascinated him. Spock didn't let things like bullying brothers or nasty neighbourhood kids get in the way of his pursuit of knowledge. Young Sheldon found kinship in this, someone relatable to as opposed to those who surrounded him in East Texas. Sheldon's devotion to physics got him out of there and he has never looked back. Until now.
While praising Spock, he opens his safety deposit box and reveals among other things the engagement ring he had for Amy. When pressed about it, he snaps at Penny to just let it be before he returned the topic back to Spock. But the subject of Amy returns and Sheldon storms out of the room after all but admitting that he's not over her.
Given the Sheldon I've been exposed to since s5, the fact that Sheldon has fallen 'in love' with Amy isn't shocking as that's the way the ham-fisted writing has steered the boat. This has become the moment where Amy supersedes Spock as the most important person in his life. The 'a-ha!' moment people who follow the Sheldon and Amy romance have been waiting for.
What really struck me, however, is how much the writers simplified Spock, making him out to be nothing more than a half-human fraudster that fooled a young Sheldon into thinking that one can exist without emotions. It shows that they don't understand Spock, and, by extension, Sheldon.
Spock always said that he didn't have emotions but we, through Jim Kirk, knew better. Spock's emotions were deep and powerful, which is why he practiced kolinahr. Through their friendship we got to see what true love was: Spock could appreciate Kirk's passion without succumbing to it (most of the time), while Kirk admired Spock's intellect (although he enjoyed teasing him). Yes, there was a chance for both to learn from each other, perhaps even influence each other, but neither asked the other to go against who they fundamentally were.
We have a similar window in which to see Sheldon's passion, and her name is Penny. Penny who made him screech into a phone when she called him 'Moonpie' and flash a look of death when she used all the laundry machines. Even more remarkable is that she's the one who made Sheldon cry. His lips trembled as he gently handled the Leonard Nimoy napkin before he darted off to his room to fetch her Christmas presents. Sheldon, who cried when Penny called M.O.N.T.E. a toy robot. Or Sheldon, who out of concern for Penny violated his own policies and drove her to the hospital despite the threats of a fiery death and lethal germs.
The Penny and Sheldon interactions in tonight's episode are natural and telling of their close bond. Hearing his stories of how he was mistreated as a kid made her want to go over and hug him. Perhaps the message the writers are trying to make is that, yes, we are aware of Sheldon's emotions but Sheldon isn't. I've got one word for you—Meemaw. The one woman whose passing he knows will leave him inconsolable. The one person he will not tolerate anyone talking smack about. He's her Moonpie and he unabashedly accepts this.
Perhaps the most significant part for me is the Nimoy napkin, which Sheldon keeps in a wall safe. Penny's gift is THE moment for BBT fans as it was the first time we got to see a genuine Sheldon Cooper hug. But that's not all Sheldon has locked away as Amy's ring is also in the safe. Perhaps the message is that she is just as precious to Sheldon as Spock is—and that's just sad.
Because Amy is all about change, but for her benefit. We watched Sheldon continually deflect Amy's sexual advances until she wore him down, suggesting that she knows what he wants better than he does. This, above all else, is what is wrong with the show since Molaro took over because Sheldon has changed from the iconic character that he was, not to benefit his character, but to fulfill a pitiful attempt at maudlin romance. He's been worn down to the point where he no longer sees the wonder in Spock.
He no longer sees the wonder in himself.
I've always been in awe of Vintage Sheldon, the alien genius who was unapologetic for being himself. He was homo novus and one of the great minds of the 21st century who loved trains and Spock and comic books. He was different, proudly and arrogantly so (and with merit) and yet people accepted him, sometimes grudgingly like Howard—although you couldn't mistake the genuine friendship he had with Sheldon. Sheldon was simply Sheldon and that explanation was good enough for his friends and the viewers.
Being an outsider and yet being okay with that, okay with being you, that's what Spock is all about. It's what Vintage Sheldon is all about, which is why I will never give up on him. He's all kinds of awesomeness and his confidence and self-assuredness are things which I wish I had more of.
It's why I can unabashedly say that the Sheldon Cooper of the early seasons is my Spock.
And why I can say with absolute certainty that Molaro doesn't understand what that means.