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321 - A Secret Letter and a Lowly Disc of Processed Meat

Aired Thursday, April 30, 2020
A Secret Letter and a Lowly Disc of Processed Meat

Sheldon learns that Mary has been keeping a secret about his college future. Meanwhile, Meemaw is furious to learn that Dale fired Georgie.

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Episode Notes

  • Title Reference: "A Secret Letter" refers to the letter from Caltech that Sheldon finds, and "Lowly Disc of Processed Meat" refers to the piece of hot dog that led to Sheldon finding the letter.
  • Opening Credits Sequence: Sheldon is dressed in his normal clothes as a cow approaches the family.
  • The set layout of Sheldon's video to Mary resembles the format he would use on Fun with Flags on The Big Bang Theory. Sheldon was flanked by two flags with a chalkboard background that read "Sheldon Cooper ~ presents ~ Why Sheldon Cooper Should Go To College". [Fun with Flags]
  • Sheldon learned that he had received interest from Princeton. On The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon was sometimes dismissive of Princeton because it was where his best friend, Leonard Hofstadter, studied. [511, 703, 1023]


Quote from Brenda Sparks

Mary: So, George is mad at me, and Sheldon is mad at me, and... honestly, I'm mad at me, too.
Brenda Sparks: Will you please give yourself a break? All that you do for that family, I am surprised you didn't crack years ago.
Mary: How do you handle it all?
Brenda Sparks: I'm sitting in a chicken coop drinking a wine cooler at 11:00 a.m.... clearly, I don't.

Quote from Ms. MacElroy

[on the "Why Sheldon Cooper Should Go to College" tape:]
Ms. MacElroy: I don't think I have anything left to teach Sheldon. I'm pretty sure he's already smarter than me.
Sheldon: It's true.

Quote from Brenda Sparks

Mary: Shelly and this college stuff is killing me. I... I never went to college. How can I prepare him?
Brenda Sparks: Mary, if that kid is smart enough to have colleges wanting him already, he's got to be smart enough to figure it out.
Mary: Maybe. It still hurts to hear him say he wants to leave.
Brenda Sparks: I bet. On the other hand, I'm worried my Billy will never be ready to leave.
Mary: Oh, of course he will.
Brenda Sparks: Damn. Smoking, drinking, lying. You're covering all the sins today.

Quote from Ms. Ingram

[on the "Why Sheldon Cooper Should Go to College" tape:]
Ms. Ingram: Honestly... teaching Sheldon is the hardest thing I've ever had to do. And I don't say that because he can be a pain. I say that because he's so intelligent, I had to study every night just to keep up. I'm gonna miss him.

Quote from Sheldon

Missy: Interesting.
Sheldon: What does it say? No, don't tell me. Okay, tell me. No, don't!
Missy: Sheldon, if I tell you but you never look at it, then you didn't break the law, right?
Janice: [answers phone] Law offices of Morris, Morris & Yorn. Janice speaking.
Sheldon: [on the phone] Hello. I'd like to speak to either Morris, Morris or Yorn.
Janice: May I ask what it is in regard to?
Sheldon: Well, I was slicing a hot dog...

View more quotes from this episode

Featured Music

Episode Trivia

  • Which talk show did Missy watch when her mother was out?
    • The Oprah Winfrey Show
    • The Joan Rivers Show
    • The Phil Donahue Show
    • Sally Jessy Raphael
  • Sheldon received interest from a university in which European country?
    • Germany
    • England
    • France
    • Switzerland

Episode Recap

Adult Sheldon talks about the milestones in a young man’s life: squashing one’s first bug, tending to one’s first booboo, and preparing a favorite meal without one’s mommy. Sheldon goes over to Missy to ask if she can open a jar so he can make spaghetti with little hot dogs cut up in it. Back in the kitchen, as Sheldon cuts up the hot dogs, a small piece of hot dog rolls off the chopping board and comes to a stop underneath the fridge. Adult Sheldon says the lowly disc of processed meat would nearly tear his family apart.

As Sheldon tries to find the hot dog piece under the refrigerator, he gets a flashlight from the kitchen cupboard but its batteries have died. When Sheldon asks Missy if they have another flashlight, she says there’s one in their mom’s night stand. As Sheldon looks in his mother’s drawer for the flashlight he notices a letter from Caltech. Missy tells him to open it, but Sheldon points out mail is protected by federal law. After Missy reads the letter, Sheldon goes back and forth on whether she should tell him what it says. Missy asks whether Sheldon would be in the clear if she tells him the contents of the latter but he doesn’t read it himself. Later, Sheldon phones up a law firm to talk to one of their senior partners. When the receptionist asks what this was in regard to, Sheldon begins by explaining he was slicing a hot dog.

When Meemaw opens her door to Georgie, he asks if she could talk to Dale for him. Inside, Meemaw is stunned to hear Dale fired Georgie. When Georgie asks why Dale didn’t tell her, Meemaw admits they haven’t exactly been on speaking terms lately. Meemaw says they’re about to be on yelling terms. Back home, Sheldon is pleased to learn that if he doesn’t actually look at the letter then legally he’s in the clear. Sheldon tells the lawyer that this has been helpful and if he has any physics questions in the future, the receptionist has his number. WHen Sheldon goes over to tell Missy she can tell him what’s in the letter, Missy says here’s where this gets fun.

When Dale answers the phone, an angry Meemaw asks what’s wrong with him. Dale feigns ignorance and asks who is this. Meemaw says he can be mad at her, but he shouldn’t take it out on her grandson. Dale reminds her that Georgie let the store be robbed, but Meemaw points out that he paid the money back. Meemaw tells Dale she was actually starting to feel sorry for him, but now she doesn’t. Dale sarcastically thanks her for calling and hangs up on her.

In their room, after Missy takes a picture of Sheldon wearing a dress, a clown nose and a cowboy hat, Sheldon demands to know what was in the letter now. Missy thinks he’s pretty cranky for a princess rodeo clown. When Missy reveals Caltech wants Sheldon to go to school there, Sheldon can’t believe his mother would hide that from him.

When Mary arrives home, Sheldon is waiting by the front door to ask her if she would care to explain the letter. Mary reminds him she is his mother and says she doesn’t need to answer anything. When Sheldon wants to know how she could not tell him Caltech wants him to attend, Mary says he’s not going so it doesn’t matter. When Sheldon asks if he doesn’t get a say in this, Mary says no, that’s why the letter was addressed to his parents. After Sheldon wonders if his dad was okay hiding this from him, Mary says they’re done having this discussion and tells him to go to his room. Adult Sheldon explains he was angry and needed more information. While his mother told him to go to his room, she didn’t tell him to stay there. Loving a loophole, Sheldon climbs out of the window.

At a bar, Coach Wilkins asks George who’s hotter: Cindy Crawford or Jessica Rabbit? When Sheldon interrupts their conversation, George wonders how he found him. Sheldon points out he doesn’t come home smelling of coffee. When Sheldon asks him why no one told him about the letter from Caltech, George asks to see it. Mr. Givens can’t believe his luck when he arrives at the bar to get drunk only to see Sheldon there.

When George arrives home, Mary wonders why Sheldon’s with him as she thought he was in his room. After George tells Sheldon to go to his room so he can talk to his mom, Mary tells Sheldon to stay in his room this time. After George asks Mary if she wants to tell him about this, Mary says the letter came a couple of weeks ago and, since there’s no chance he’s going to California, she didn’t see the point in telling Sheldon about it. George says this could be a huge opportunity for Sheldon, and she doesn’t get to make these decisions all by herself. Sheldon is his son too. Mary points out it didn’t feel like he was George’s son when he had the chickenpox or every morning when she has to make his lunch. George says Sheldon felt like his son when he took him to Caltech, where he clearly impressed a lot of people. George wants to be included in discussions about Sheldon’s future and if that means California, maybe he’ll go with him. Mary tells George that Sheldon’s not going anywhere, but he can go as far away as he wants.

At the kitchen table, Missy thinks it’s weird that it’s just her and her mom eating dinner. Mary thinks it’s nice as they don’t usually get to chat. When Mary asks how things are in school, Missy says fine. Is she still having fun at baseball? Uh-huh. After Mary asks if there’s any boys she likes, Missy is relieved that their conversation’s interrupted as Georgie arrives home. Georgie was out trying to find a job but nobody’s hiring. Mary tells him to grab a plate and sit with them, but Georgie says he’s not hungry and leaves. When Mary gets back to her conversation and asks Missy about boys, Missy calls for her brother to come back.

When George goes to their bedroom that night, Mary concedes that she should have shown him the letter. Mary insists she was going to tell him eventually, but George isn’t sure. After Mary admits Caltech wasn’t the only school interested in Sheldon, an angry George takes the letters out of Mary’s hands. When Mary points out one school was in New Jersey and another was all the way in Germany, George wonders why Sheldon can’t go to New Jersey? They could all move there. When Mary insists they’re not moving to New Jersey, George sarcastically says he guesses Mary has spoken. Meanwhile, Missy and Sheldon can hear their parents fighting from their bedroom. Missy tells Sheldon this is his fault. Missy says they’re fighting because he’s a freak.

Back in George and Mary’s room, he accuses her of doing what’s best for her. George starts to leave, saying he’s going to sleep on the couch. When he opens the bedroom door, a crying Sheldon is standing there. Mary is upset and tells Sheldon to come to her, but he says he wants Dad. George agrees to walk Sheldon back to his bed.

As George drives Sheldon to school, Sheldon is looking at all the letters from schools. When Sheldon wonders how the schools heard about him, George explains that if it’s anything like sports there’s always recruiters looking for talent. Sheldon says he really enjoyed visiting Caltech, but Princeton’s an interesting choice. Albert Einstein talked there. George says it’s nice these schools are interested, but California and New Jersey are really far away. Sheldon wonders if his dad doesn’t want him to go to college either. George didn’t say that, he’s just saying they need to be realistic given how young he is. Sheldon points out he recently took care of his own boo-boo, but George doesn’t think that’ll convince Mary.

In George’s office at the school, he uses the chalkboard to show Sheldon, in football terms, what stands between him and college. George says Mary’s a tough opponent, so they’ve got to be smart about how they get around her. Back home, Brenda Sparks is stunned to look over the fence and see that Mary smokes. Mary insists she’s only having a cigarette because she’s going through a rough patch. When Brenda sarcastically asks if Mary ran out of room on the fridge to put up Sheldon’s homework, Mary starts to cry. Brenda apologizes, saying she was just kidding around. Brenda invites Mary over, telling her to bring the pack of cigarettes. She says they’ll go into the chicken coop where God can’t see them.

Back in George’s office, he and Sheldon agree the only way this will happen right now is if he stays local. Sheldon accepts he can always go away for grad school some day. George says the big question is how to get Mary on board with the idea of Sheldon going where Dr. Sturgis teaches. When Sheldon wonders how George got Mary to marry him, George says that won’t work now as Mary doesn’t drink any more.

In the Sparks’ chicken coop, Mary is drinking a wine cooler with Brenda. Mary says George is mad at her, Sheldon’s mad at her, and truth be told she’s mad at herself. Brenda tells Mary to give herself a break. With all she does for her family, Brenda is surprised Mary didn’t crack years ago. When Mary wonders how Brenda handles it all, Brenda points out she’s drinking a wine cooler in a chicken coop at 11 am so clearly she doesn’t handle it. Mary wonders how she can prepare Sheldon for college when she never went herself. Brenda argues if he’s smart enough to have colleges chasing after him, he’s smart enough to figure it out. Mary still says it hurts to hear him say he wants to leave. When Brenda says she’s worried Billy will never be ready to leave, Mary says of course he will. Brenda says with the smoking, drinking and now lying, Mary is covering all the sins today.

Back in George’s office, he points a camcorder at Sheldon who’s sitting at the desk. After George says they’re rolling, Sheldon says hello to his mother before saying he would like to explain why he should be allowed to go to East Texas Tech next year. When Sheldon says he will keep it simple so she can understand, George stops the video.

Back home, Mary takes Missy a snack. She doesn’t know if Missy heard them having a disagreement last night. When Missy questions calling it a disagreement, Mary admits it was a fight. Mary says there’s no reason to worry, but Missy admits it’s kind of hard not to. Mary insists just because parents sometimes have fights, it doesn’t mean they won’t make things up. As Missy asks if they did make things up, Sheldon and George arrive home. Mary simply tells Missy to eat her cookies.

After Mary goes to greet Sheldon and George, she asks why they’re so late. George has Sheldon explain. He says they put together a video to show why he should be able to go to college, and he would like her to watch it with an open mind. Mary says she can do that. In the living room, Sheldon puts the tape on and thanks his cameraman and driver, George.

On the tape, Sheldon says he understands it’s not realistic for him to go out of state or out of the country at this stage of his life. He proposes that he lives at home but enroll full time to continue his studies at East Texas Tech. He firmly believes he’s ready for this next stage of his academic life. But don’t just take it from him. Mr. Givens says Sheldon is ready. In the fall, now, just let him go. Please. Ms. MacElroy doesn’t think she has anything left to teach Sheldon. She thinks he’s already smarter than her. Sheldon agrees. Ms. Ingram says teaching Sheldon is one of the hardest things she’s had to do, not because he’s a pain but because he’s so intelligent she has to study just to keep up. Principal Petersen says a student like Sheldon comes along once in a lifetime, he knows he’s going to do great things and he’s honored to have been a small part of it. Dr. Sturgis knows this is a hard decision for Mary. He doesn’t have kids and can’t tell her how to parent her child, but he does know in all his years in academia he’s never seen a student like Sheldon. He’s truly extraordinary. And if she lets him go there, John promises they’ll take good care of him.

After the video ends, Sheldon turns to Mary and asks “Well?” George asks Sheldon to let him and his mom talk. After Sheldon leaves, George turns to Mary and asks “Well?” Mary takes a deep breath, and then says “I guess our baby’s going to college.” George hugs Mary as she sighs.

Later, Sheldon uses a wooden stick and some tongs to get the stray piece of hot dog meat from out under the fridge. He thanks it for getting him into college.

As Meemaw and Georgie sit in her car at night, she asks if he’s ready for this. He holds up a carton of eggs and says let’s go. They get out and start pelting Dale’s store with eggs. It’s not the first egging for either of them.

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