Earlier this year, when Star Trek vet Leonard Nimoy died, The Big Bang Theory aired a lovely post-episode tribute to Nimoy. But now that we’re in Season 9, enough time has passed to afford the creative team a chance to honor the actor with half a story arc devoted to Sheldon’s idolatry of Spock. It was a lovely approach to the subject, and it played a psychologically complicated part in the big reveal (to other characters) of Sheldon’s engagement ring. Well done, Big Bang. Spoilers, below.

In a case of art imitating life, Big Bang brought in son Adam Nimoy as someone making a documentary about his father, and hey, that’s really happening. Sheldon gets a chance to talk on camera about how Spock has affected his life, and it’s all set up by Wil Wheaton, who is too delighted to watch all the corridors of Sheldon’s psyche on full display.

And in a way, Sheldon is the perfect talking head to have on a documentary like that, because he definitely stands out, and his love for Nimoy and Spock’s Vulcan philosophy are true to the character and has been established in full over the previous eight seasons. He tells anecdotes about how “What Would Spock Do?” got him through certain situations, and not always peacefully. He brings out the autographed napkin for what probably isn’t, but could be the last time ever, and he generally just gushes Sheldon-like.

Which brings us to him pulling out the engagement ring and just breezily telling Penny and Leonard that Amy broke things off before he could propose to her. Awkward as that was, we then get to see Sheldon’s true feelings on the matter are nowhere near as fine as he says, and it’s great when Penny uses Spock’s half-humanness to remind Sheldon that even his idol reacted emotionally to things. Nimoy’s character was really woven into the storyline in a fantastic way that didn’t just rely on people merely quoting or visually referencing things.

Of course, what Sheldon really could have used was Future Spock coming back in time to tell Present Sheldon not to go out on his One Last Shot at getting Amy to marry him, as that situation only ended up revealing Amy kissing another guy, played by Stephen Merchant. That’s the second time Sheldon’s attempt at engagement gets squashed. Does that mean the third time is the charm here, or are they totally split for good? What would Spock say?

the big bang theory

The episode ended in a nice way, as well, with the re-jilted Sheldon not being very pleased with Spock’s human side at all. All in all, this episode got me more stoked than ever to watch Adam Nimoy’s actual documentary, and was one of the most interesting interpretations of an actor’s career affecting fictional characters.

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