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514 - A Free Scratcher and Feminine Wiles

Aired Thursday, February 24, 2022
A Free Scratcher and Feminine Wiles

When Sheldon, Dr. Sturgis and Dr. Linkletter can't agree on how to proceed with their project, President Hagemeyer appoints Dr. Lee (Ming-Na Wen) to lead them. Meanwhile, Mary is given a free scratchcard at the gas station.

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Episode Notes

  • Title Reference: "A Free Scratcher" to Mary's unexpected prize from the gas station, and "Feminine Wiles" refers to Sheldon's complaint to Dr. Lee.
  • Opening Credits Sequence: Sheldon is dressed in his normal clothes as a black cow with horns approaches the family.
  • Features a flashback to 511 A Lock-In, a Weather Girl and a Disgusting Habit when George tells Principal Petersen he saw Mary and Pastor Rob smoking cigarettes and laughing.
  • Star Trek's Kobayashi Maru was referenced before in the Young Sheldon episode 109 Spock, Kirk, and Testicular Hernia. It was also mentioned in an episode of The Big Bang Theory. [TBBT 407]


Quote from Adult Sheldon

Adult Sheldon: Scientific rivalries are a fact of life. When two competing scientists work on a project, it can devolve into an intellectual boxing match. Over the years, there's been a few classic heavyweight bouts. Newton and Leibniz. [bell ringing] Tesla and Edison. And in a lesser-known but equally brutal bout...
Announcer: Linkletter versus Sturgis, The Tussle with No Muscle. Let's see how they stack up in a tale of the tape. In the wire frame glasses, the Eureka from Topeka, Grant Linkletter. IQ: 159. Papers published: 272. Bedtime: 8:30. And his opponent, in his favorite sensible shoes, The Brain from Maine, John Burgess Sturgis! IQ: 162. Papers published: 221. Bedtime: 7:45 on weekdays, 9:00 on Saturday night. Fasten your thinking caps and let's get it on.

Quote from President Hagemeyer

Dr. Linkletter: I cannot work with that creepy little know-it-all one more day.
President Hagemeyer: I-I'm sorry, but are we talking about Sheldon or Sturgis?
Dr. Linkletter: Sturgis. Well, both, but mostly Sturgis.
[cut to:]
Dr. John Sturgis: He's not interested in anyone else's input.
President Hagemeyer: I-I'm sorry, Sheldon or Linkletter?
Dr. John Sturgis: Linkletter.
President Hagemeyer: Ah, got it. Continue.

Quote from President Hagemeyer

Dr. John Sturgis: I was brought in to help but Dr. Linkletter doesn't value my input.
President Hagemeyer: Oh, I hear you. That must be tough.
[cut to:]
Dr. Linkletter: Ever since he was brought back, he contradicts everything I say.
President Hagemeyer: I hear you. That must be tough.
[cut to:]
Sheldon: There was a time when their arguing brought out the best in them, but now it's just hindering our work.
President Hagemeyer: I hear you. That must be tough.

Quote from Dr. Linkletter

Dr. John Sturgis: The free-streaming length of the axion is too long. It'll erase the fluctuations.
Dr. Linkletter: You're completely forgetting that it is nonrelativistic dark matter.
Dr. John Sturgis: You'll never have the resolution to see microkelvin features.
Dr. Linkletter: I think your brain is as smooth as the top of your head.
Dr. John Sturgis: Low blow, Grant.
Sheldon: He's right, gentlemen, let's keep it to science.
Dr. John Sturgis: You'll never have the resolution to see microkelvin features.

Quote from President Hagemeyer

President Hagemeyer: But I thought you wanted Dr. Sturgis on this project.
Dr. Linkletter: I'll admit John has been useful, but now he's just slowing us down.
President Hagemeyer: Well, he keeps Sheldon happy, and when Sheldon's happy, he's not in this office.
Dr. Linkletter: Well, but when he's not in your office, he's in my office.
President Hagemeyer: Eh, "dem's da breaks." [chuckles]

View more quotes from this episode

Featured Music

  • Rumble
    Link Wray

    Rumble Dr. Lee introduces herself to Sheldon, Dr. Sturgis and Dr. Linkletter.

Episode Trivia

  • According to the fantasy boxing introduction, where is Dr. Linkletter from?
    • Omaha
    • St. Louis
    • Topeka
    • Tulsa
  • How much did Mary win on the free scratcher?
    • $1000
    • $250
    • $750
    • $500
  • When Sheldon spoke Klingon, he asked where they keep which food?
    • Chocolate
    • Pasta
    • Yogurt
    • Soup

Episode Recap

Adult Sheldon talks about scientific rivalries: Newton and Leibniz, Tesla and Edison, and the lesser known Linkletter vs. Sturgis. Fantasy: Drs. Linkletter and Sturgis are about to square off in a boxing ring as the announcer introduces the fighters and gives their stats. In reality, Linkletter and Sturgis are arguing over a scientific matter in the lab. As Linkletter refuses to concede ground, he tells John he has a brain “as smooth as the top of your head”. After John complains that’s a low blow, Sheldon agrees and tells them to keep it to science.

President Hagemeyer is forced to play mediator as the warring parties descend on her office individually. When Dr. Linkletter complains that he can’t work with that “creepy, little know-it-all” any more, President Hagemeyer wonders if he means Sturgis or Sheldon. Sturgis, mostly, Linkletter answers. Later, when Dr. Sturgis complains that “he’s not interested in anyone else’s input”, Hagemeyer wonders if he’s talking about Linkletter or Sheldon. Hagemeyer tells Linkletter that Sturgis being there keeps Sheldon happy and out of her office. Linkletter points out when Sheldon’s not in her office, he’s in his office instead. Hagemeyer laughs and says “Them’s the breaks”. As Dr. Sturgis, Dr. Linkletter and Sheldon vent in her office, Hagemeyer gives them each the same response, “I hear you. That must be tough.” Later, she appeals to each of their egos, telling Linkletter she’s counting on him being in charge, telling Sturgis he’s the alpha male, and telling Sheldon she’s counting on him keeping the train on the tracks.

At the gas station, when Mary pays at the counter, the attendant also gives her a free scratch card. Mary says she doesn’t believe in gambling, so Hal is happy to take the scratcher off her hand. Mary says she doesn’t believe in him gambling either. When Hal says he’s going to scratch it if she doesn’t want it, Mary takes the scratcher with her, telling him he can thank her in heaven.

At the university, Dr. Sturgis wonders where a formula on the board came from as it wasn’t there yesterday. After Sheldon explains Linkletter added it after he left, John wonders if he was joking. Sheldon admits Linkletter was giggling at John’s “feeble-minded math”. As John sets to erasing the equation, Dr. Linkletter walks in and demands to know what he’s doing. As they start to argue again, Linkletter says he wasn’t there the last time John went off his rocker, and wonders if this is what it looked like. John insists he’s perfectly sane and calls Grant an “albino beanpole”. Sheldon tuts at Dr. Sturgis’s descent into street talk. After John points out Linkletter impugned his mental state, Sheldon allows the insult to stand.

Back home, as Missy throws a soda can in the trash, she finds Mary’s discarded scratcher. After taking it out, Missy scratches off two $500 squares. As Missy prays to God asking for one more $500, Mary comes in and asks what she's doing. Mary explains she threw the scratcher away for a reason. Missy says she might win $500 and would split it with her mother, but Mary isn’t interested. When Missy asks why Mary’s being so lame, she says because money doesn’t make you happy. Missy argues Fresh Prince seems happy, but Mary points out it’s his Uncle Phil’s money, not his. After Missy storms off, Mary puts the scratchcard in the trash again, only to go back and retrieve it. Mary gasps as she scratches off the final square, a third $500. Having snuck back into the kitchen, Missy says half of that’s hers. Mary tells her to go to her room.

As the trio of scientists try to work in the lab, Dr. Linkletter accuses Dr. Sturgis of wasting time. Grant thinks John is the one wasting time. After Sheldon asks them to both keep on track, Grant says to keep on track they’ll have to follow his plan. He insists. John is offended by Linkletter’s attitude and tells Grant he’s not the alpha dog around here. Sheldon agrees. Linkletter says it may be hard for them to hear, but President Hagemeyer put him in charge. John knows for a fact that isn’t true, because she put him in charge. “We may have a problem”, Sheldon declares.

As the guys stand before President Hagemeyer in her office, Sheldon asks if she really thought she could tell each one of them they’re in charge and they wouldn’t figure it out. Hagemeyer points out she asked them to keep it to themselves, and she’s a little disappointed they broke her trust. As the men bicker over who should be in charge, Hagemeyer hopes they’re starting to see the challenge she faced in putting any of them in charge. After Sheldon proposes himself as leader, Linkletter points out he’s a child. Sturgis calls Grant a child, prompting Hagemeyer to describe them all as children. John asks who it’s going to be…

Later, in the lab, Dr. Lee introduces herself. After Sheldon wonders what makes her qualified to lead their project, Dr. Lee explains she has a PhD in physics from Berkeley, worked at IBM's Watson Research Center as lead of the materials research group, and raised three little boys, which she understands they’ve been acting like. Dr. Linkletter thinks it sounds like she can handle it.

As Mary prays in the backyard, she asks for forgiveness, saying she knows she shouldn’t have finished that scratcher. She tells God she knows that gambling is wrong, but now that they’ve won the money, her family could really use it. George interrupts Mary’s prayer to ask why Missy is saying they’re rich.

Back in the lab, Dr. Lee proposes mounting a satellite on the roof to get a good read on fluctuations in radiation. Dr. Sturgis, Dr. Linkletter and Sheldon quickly disagree over the best way to do that. As the men squabble, Dr. Lee claps her hands and asks if she needs to separate them, or if they can put their minds together for the advancement of science. The second one, Dr. Linkletter says. Sheldon knows she’s new here, but he tells Dr. Lee this is their process: John and Grant bicker and he swoops in and saves the day. After Dr. Lee claps again, Sheldon chooses the second option as well.

Back home, Mary shows George the scratchcard, telling him they can’t keep it. It’s a scratcher, not a puppy he points out. After Mary says gambling is wrong, George wonders why she bought it in the first place. Mary says they just gave it to her at the gas station, which George argues sounds like a gift from God. That’s not how He works, Mary says. What if He wanted her to put the money towards the church, George wonders. As Mary considers that, George wonders what if He wanted them to buy stuff. George argues they’re good people who work hard, so maybe they deserve this. Mary admits a dishwasher might be nice.

Back in the lab, Dr. Lee is telling the guys the captivating story of how she was carrying pulsars 75 feet up a wet metal ladder when there was an earthquake. That gives Sheldon an idea: they should set up several radio telescopes on different rooftops in an array. Dr. Lee complains in Mandarin, wondering if this kid has an off switch. As Dr. Sturgis realizes they both speak the language, he responds in Mandarin that Sheldon doesn’t have an off switch. Sheldon hears his name and asks Dr. Linkletter what they’re saying. Grant doesn’t speak Mandarin, just a little French. Dr. Lee confirms she also speaks French by telling Linkletter she wondered if Sheldon had an off switch. Linkletter laughs and says he wishes Sheldon did. Feeling left out, Sheldon wonders if any of them speak Klingon. In Klingon, Sheldon asks where they keep the chocolate to a muted response.

When Sheldon goes to see Dr. Lee in her office, he says he feels his ideas aren’t being taken seriously. Dr. Lee insists she’s listening to everyone’s contribution, but Sheldon argues she’s not using any of his ideas. After Dr. Lee points out Drs. Sturgis and Linkletter seem happy with the direction the project is taking, Sheldon thinks that’s because she’s using her “feminine wiles” on them. What does he think that means? Well, Sheldon says, she appears to be wearing lip gloss and have good hygiene, but if she’s trying to use them on him it won’t work. Dr. Lee assures him she’s just doing what’s best for the project. In that case, Sheldon again proposes using multiple telescopes. Dr. Lee says she hears him, but… ghobe'. Sheldon realizes that’s “no” in Klingon. Dr. Lee admits she looked up that one word, having a feeling it would come in handy.

Back home, George and Mary are looking through an appliance catalog. After George points out a dishwasher with five wash cycles, Mary thinks these are really expensive. George points out she did win the money. Mary suggests they buy a more affordable one, but George says everything they do is affordable so they should splurge for once. After Mary describes it as “extravagant”, George reminds her they’re talking about a dishwasher, not a boat. When Mary admits she just doesn’t feel right given the way they got the money, George asks if she’s never okay with bending the rules once in a while? That’s not how being a Christian works, Mary says. Good to know, George says, as he grabs the scratcher before walking out.

Adult Sheldon explains that Dr. Lee has commandeered the project, while Drs. Linkletter and Sturgis were okay with it. Everyone was being mean, and he was out of his depth, so he needed advice on how to proceed. Thankfully, he was mere feet away from the person who had been mean to him since she tried strangling him with her umbilical cord. Sheldon knocks on Missy’s door.

In Missy’s room, she asks Sheldon if Dr. Lee is turning his friends against him. Essentially, Sheldon says. Missy calls it a classic move, explaining that most girls you find crying in the bathrooms at school are there because of that. After Sheldon wonders what he can do, Missy doesn’t think he can win this one when he’s up against college professors. As a defeated Sheldon starts to walk out, Missy asks if any of them have pimples? No. Too bad, Missy’s done a lot of damage with “pizza face”.

When Mary joins Meemaw in her kitchen, she tells her mother that George just grabbed the scratchcard and walked off. Mary can’t see why he cares so much about a dishwasher. Meemaw suggests it’s not about the dishwasher. Meemaw says it does sometimes seem like Mary’s waging a war on fun. Why, because she has values? Too bad, because they’re not going away. “Oh, and fun is down for the count.”, Meemaw says.

At a bar, Principal Petersen says drinks are on George after hearing about the $500 scratcher. After George wonders if it would kill Mary to have a little fun just once, Petersen suggests that just not who Mary is. George wonders if it is, just not with him. George reveals he saw Mary and the new youth pastor smoking cigarettes and laughing at the church the other night. Petersen doesn’t think that’s a big deal, thinking smoking isn’t even a sin. The point is, George says, Mary can have fun, just not with him.

Back at Meemaw’s, Mary says she’s not against having fun but she feels like she’s the only one holding the family together. Meemaw points out Mary wasn’t exactly this fastidious when she and George got married. Can’t a person grow, Mary asks? “Grow apart?”, her mother suggests.

At the bar, George asks Tom what made him and his wife call it quits. Petersen tells George that getting divorced sucks. George insists he knows, but Petersen argues he doesn’t. If he’s upset about a $500 scratcher, think how upset he’ll be when he’s alone and has lost half his money. And it wasn’t that much to begin with. After George reminds Tom he offered to buy his drinks, Tom says thanks, before suggesting some wings would be nice, too.

Back home, as Sheldon returns from Missy’s room without a solution to his problems, Adult Sheldon explains that his sister thought he was in an unwinnable situation, but he knew someone else who faced a no-win scenario and prevailed: one James Tiberius Kirk.The Kobayashi Maru was a simulation designed to be unbeatable, but Kirk snuck in and reprogrammed it so he could win. Adult Sheldon says all he needed to do was put his scanning coordinates into Dr. Lee's radio telescope to prove he was correct.

When George returns home, Mary is knitting on the couch in the den. He returns her scratchcard and says if she doesn’t feel comfortable spending it then she should do whatever she wants with it. Mary’s been thinking and says she doesn’t think it’s the end of the world if they spend it on something fun. Something the family could enjoy. After George points out they haven’t been on a vacation in a long time, Mary gasps as she suggests going to see the ice capades in Houston. George says let’s keep thinking…

As Sheldon walks down the darkened corridor of the university, Adult Sheldon explains he was just like Captain Kirk, if Captain Kirk had to bum a ride from his meemaw. All he needed to do was get into Dr. Lee's office and swap the coordinates. Nothing could stop him… until he finds her office door is locked. Dang it.

Meanwhile, Dr. Lee joins President Hagemeyer for a drink in her office after work. Hagemeyer toasts to male egos and all the fun that comes with them. When Dr. Lee wonders if she’s had to deal with that a lot, Hagemeyer admits the first month she was there, everyone kept assuming she was the president’s secretary. Did she correct them? No, she told them the president was busy and then cut their funding. Dr. Lee mentions there were only three other women in her major, and they were certainly not her friends. The men, meanwhile, were either too scared to talk to her or just trying to get her “horizontal”. Dr. Lee mentions she’s even had projects sabotaged by people trying to make her look bad.

Outside, Sheldon manages to pry open Dr. Lee’s window and then climb into her office. Meanwhile, Hagemeyer asks Dr. Lee what she did about the sabotage. Dr. Lee says she eventually realized she’s an experimental physicist, so she can build anything she wants to protect her work. As Sheldon sits down at Dr. Lee’s computer and attempts to turn it on, an alarm blares. A cloud of colorful powder is blown at Sheldon's face, making him cough as a camera flashes. Back in Hagemeyer’s office, Dr. Lee says thanks to her kids she’s very familiar with the movie Home Alone. As a dirty and defeated Sheldon walks out of Dr. Lee’s office, Adult Sheldon explains that after a lot of apologizing, a little begging and a note from his mother, he was allowed to keep his role on the team. When Captain Kirk faced the no-win scenario, he didn't have blue and yellow snot for a week.

As the family gather around the new dishwasher, Mary says it sounds like the ocean. George thinks that’s very relaxing, while Georgie argues it kind of makes everything else in the kitchen look trashy. Sheldon is excited to read in the manual that it has a temperature boost sensor. After Missy scoffs and walks away, Mary says she’s going to miss the rinse cycle, but Missy insists she’s not going to miss anything. George is excited when the dishwasher beeps and asks Sheldon to look that up.

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