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415 - A Virus, Heartbreak and a World of Possibilities

Aired Thursday, April 22, 2021
A Virus, Heartbreak and a World of Possibilities

Sheldon is caught in a moral dilemma when offered a bootleg copy of a computer game he can't afford. Also, Mary and Meemaw take Brenda out for girls' night while George Sr. and the guys watch Billy, and Missy asks Georgie to take her and Marcus on a secret date.

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Quotes

Meemaw: Well, let's get into it. What happened? If it's another woman, she's a tramp, and you're way prettier.
Brenda Sparks: No. Although sometimes I wish there was. Then I'd have someone to be mad at other than myself.
Meemaw: And here I thought this one was gonna be the sad sack.
Mary: Mom, that is enough.
Meemaw: Oh, there's my little killjoy. [both laughing]

Adult Sheldon: As long as humans have been on Earth, they've had to contend with viruses. And as long as I've been on Earth, I've come up with fun ways to avoid them.
[flashback:]
Dr. Linkletter: I've heard so much about you. [offers hand]
Sheldon: Apparently not how I feel about shaking hands.
Adult Sheldon: I wear personal protective equipment...
[flashback to Sheldon putting on mittens at the dinner table]
[flashback to Sheldon wearing an astronaut suit in his bubble:]
Mary: You come here right this instant.
Adult Sheldon: ...and I was social distancing before it was cool. But in the early '90s, a new type of virus became prevalent. One that no amount of hand-washing could stop. A computer virus.
Sheldon: Oh, no.
Adult Sheldon: But let's back up and begin this story in a simpler time, before an insidious infection had upended my life.

Sheldon: Ooh, there's a computer game called Railroad Kingdom. Can we get it?
Mary: How much is it?
Sheldon: $49.95.
Missy: Are you crazy?
Mary: I'll handle this. I am not paying that much for a game.
Sheldon: It's not just a game. It's a cutting-edge simulation teaching business skills in the golden age of railroads.
Mary: It doesn't matter.
Sheldon: But what if I end up running a railroad one day and don't have the necessary business skills?
Missy: I think I nailed it with, "Are you crazy?"

Mary: Anyway, I just wanted to check in and see how you're holding up.
Brenda Sparks: Working extra hours, being a single mother. Living the dream.
Mary: Want me to give you a hand straightening up?
Brenda Sparks: Sure. You got a bulldozer?
Mary: Maybe we just need to get your mind off things. Why don't we go out this weekend, have a girls' night?
Brenda Sparks: Really? Mary Cooper's gonna show me a fun night on the town?
Mary: Yes.
Brenda Sparks: Where we going... bingo at the church?
Mary: Not anymore. [chuckles]

Sheldon: Why do these games have to be so expensive?
Tam: At least you have MTV. All I have is TV.
Sheldon: Will you please stop focusing on what you don't have and try to focus on what I don't have?

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Episode Recap

Adult Sheldon explains that as long as humans have been on Earth, they have had to contend with viruses. And as long as he’s been on Earth, he’s tried to come up with fun ways to avoid them. A flashback shows Sheldon refusing to shake Dr. Linkletter’s hand. As Adult Sheldon says he would wear personal protective equipment, a flashback shows Sheldon putting on mittens at the dinner table. A flashback to Mary confronting Sheldon, who has isolated himself in the garage and is wearing his Halloween space suit to keep out of the germs. Adult Sheldon says he was social distancing before it was cool. But in the early ‘90s, a new type of virus became prevalent. As Sheldon plays a computer game, his screen flickers, the game disappears, and a console reveals that his hard drive has been wiped. Adult Sheldon says he’s going to back up and begin this story in a simpler time, before an insidious infection had upended his life.

As Mary drives Missy and Sheldon home, she asks Missy how Billy Sparks has been lately. Missy says she doesn’t really know, but Mary thought they were friends. Missy explains they’re just “head nod in the hallway” friends. As Sheldon peruses a PC magazine, he notices an ad for a new video game called Railroad Kingdom. When Sheldon asks if they can get it, Mary questions how much it costs. After Sheldon says $49.95, Missy asks if he’s crazy. Mary tells Missy to let her handle it, explaining to Sheldon that she’s not spending that much on a game. Sheldon insists it’s more than a game, it’s “a cutting-edge simulation teaching business skills in the golden age of railroads.” After Mary says that doesn’t matter, Sheldon wonders what would happen if he ends up running a railroad and doesn’t have the necessary skills? Missy thinks she nailed it with, “Are you crazy?”

As Mary puts a casserole she baked in Brenda Sparks’ refrigerator, she asks Brenda how she’s holding up. Brenda says she’s a single parent who is working more hours; she’s living the dream. Noticing the state of the kitchen, Mary asks if she wants a hand straightening up. Brenda jokingly asks if she has a bulldozer. After Mary says they need to get her mind off her situation so how about a girls’ night, Brenda scoffs at the notion Mary Cooper is going to show her a fun night on the town. Where are they going, bingo at the church? Not anymore, a sheepish Mary says.

Back home, as Sheldon reads a magazine and Tam watches TV, Sheldon wonders why games have to be so expensive. Tam says at least he has MTV; all he has is TV. After Sheldon asks Tam to focus on his problem, Tam says he knows a guy who sells bootleg games for $5. Sheldon thinks that’s stealing, but Tam argues that if you’re going to buy it anyway then you’re just getting it early. Sheldon supposes that a railroad magnate would cut some corners. Problem solved, Tam says. Sheldon says he doesn’t even have the game yet and he’s already learning business skills.

As Mary cuts coupons in the kitchen, George arrives home from work. After Mary asks if he has any plans Saturday, George wonders if this is a church thing. When Mary says no, George admits he’s free. Mary explains Brenda is having a rough time and she wants to show her some fun. After George snorts at the idea Mary could give someone a fun time, he apologizes and claims it came out wrong. Mary insists she knows how to have a good time. When George asks where she’s going to take Brenda, Mary doesn’t know but mentions she has just found a coupon for a tea room. Wherever they end up going, Mary needs George to stay home and watch Sheldon and Billy. That he can do, George says.

The next day, Tam arrives with a bootleg copy of the game, Railroad Kingdom. Adult Sheldon explains he wore his mittens to avoid leaving fingerprints on the illicit game, in case it was ever used in evidence. And also because Tam pulled it out of his gym bag. Ugh. Adult Sheldon admits he knew it was wrong, but listen to that seductive theme song.

Meanwhile, when Missy goes to see Georgie in his room, she asks if he could drop her off at the movies on Saturday night. Georgie says he’s seeing Jana and wonders if their mom can’t do it? Missy explains that Mary’s going out and she was hoping to go to the movies with her boyfriend, Marcus. Georgie realizes she’s talking about a secret date and says he’s not sure how he feels about that. After Georgie peppers Missy with questions about Marcus, Missy starts to feel he’s acting like their mom. Georgie says his sister being with boys is weird for him. When Missy finally asks if he’ll take her or not, Georgie says okay, so a delighted Missy gives him a hug.

Over at Meemaw’s, she tells Mary it’s nice she’s taking Brenda out. Mary is pleased that somebody thinks she can be fun, but Meemaw points out she said “nice”, not “fun”. After Mary asks where Meemaw would take her, Meemaw says it’s not rocket science: Brenda would want to go to a bar for some drinks. Mary unconvincingly says she can do that. As she admits it’s been a while, Meemaw asks if she wants her to go with them. After Mary says yes and offers to pay for her drinks, Meemaw says she’s going to regret that.

As Sheldon plays on the computer, he is so wrapped up in his game that he didn’t even notice that Tam has left and is now watching MTV. Adult Sheldon explains that little did he know as he was spreading tracks across North America, a computer virus was spreading itself across his hard drive.

As Mary gets ready to head out, she asks George how he looks. When George responds, “Good, actually”, Mary says he doesn’t need to sound surprised. George says at least she wants to look good for Brenda. After Mary asks George what he’s looking around for, he says a deck of cards. After George explains he’s invited some of the guys over for poker, Mary reminds him he’s supposed to be babysitting. George insists Sheldon and Billy won’t want him around. After Mary asks if he has to be gambling, George reminds her she’s trying to be fun tonight. Mary says she is, but if she comes home and the house smells of cigar smoke, he will not hear the end of it. George says it’s her first day being fun, she should keep trying.

In Sheldon’s room, he explains the game to Billy. Sheldon says he’s about to take out a loan so he can build a railroad from the Atlantic to the Pacific. “Fun”, says Billy, before asking what does he do? Sheldon tells Billy he gets to watch while he takes out a loan so he can build a railroad from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Billy asks if he has a game that two people can play? Sheldon admits he does, but not one where he can take out a loan so he can build a railroad from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

As Georgie drives Missy to pick up Jana and Marcus, he asks what movie they are seeing. After Missy expresses surprise that he and Jana are coming in with them, Georgie asks if she thinks he’s letting her go to the movies alone with him? Missy wonders what he thinks will happen, Georgie says nothing’s going to happen, ‘cause he’s going to be there. Georgie tells Missy to relax, he’s not going to sit with them; he’ll be in the back. When Missy asks if he’ll be watching them, Georgie says it depends on the movie. After Missy says they’re seeing Beauty and the Beast, Georgie sighs and says he’ll be watching them.

At a bar, after Meemaw asks Brenda why it’s taken them so long to hang out, Brenda says her husband never left her before. Meemaw is relieved to hear they can joke about it, saying it’s going to make the evening a lot more fun. Brenda is surprised when Mary returns to the table with three beers, but Mary reminds her she said she would show her a good time. After Meemaw asks the party girl to give a toast, Mary says, “Bless these beers and the bartender who poured them.”. Meemaw is not impressed. Brenda instead says, “To friends”. Meemaw adds, “And to Brenda's crap husband who made this night possible.”

Back home, as George and the guys from work sit around the poker table, Coach Wilkins asks George if he has a serving bowl for the chips. Principal Petersen jokes he didn’t know they were playing with Martha Stewart. Coach Wilkins says he’ll make civilized men of them all if it kills him. George says he’ll go get a bowl.

As George goes to get a serving bowl, he finds Billy watching TV by himself. After Billy explains he got bored watching Sheldon play his game, George asks Billy if he wants him to get Sheldon. Billy insists he’s fine on his own. When Coach Wilkins walks into the kitchen, George introduces him to Billy, explaining he’s the son of the woman Mary took out tonight. Coach Wilkins says George can’t just leave Billy alone, arguing his father’s gone and he’s lonely. George invites Billy to join the guys at the poker table.

As Sheldon plays his game, the theme music slows down and the screen goes distorted before it's replaced with the text “DISK DESTROYER - Your hard drive is now corrupted.” Later, Sheldon holds the PC manual as he calls up Tandy tech support. Sheldon starts to explain his problem only to realize it’s an automated voice telling him he’s in the queue.

After Jana joins Georgie and Missy in the car, Jana asks Missy how serious her relationship is. Missy explains they’ve held hands, hugged once and haven’t kissed, although they did share a straw. “Pretty serious”, remarks Jana. Georgie points out they haven’t even been on a date yet. When Jana hits back that she and Georgie got pretty serious before they ever went on a date, Georgie tells her to cool it with that. Missy wonders if she can ask a relationship question: which of them said “I love you” first? As Jana says it’s funny she should ask, Georgie does not look pleased.

Back at the bar, Brenda admits she thinks Herschel cared more for the chickens than her. Meemaw says that’s not true, but Brenda reveals he took the chickens with him when he left. Mary wonders why they’re talking about this, saying they should be having fun. After Brenda admits it feels good to get it off her chest, Meemaw says they should get into it. Why did Herschel leave? Was there another woman? If so, she’s a tramp and Brenda’s way prettier. Brenda admits there wasn’t, although she sometimes wishes there was so she would have someone to be mad at other than herself. Meemaw points to Mary and jokes she thought she was going to be the sad sack.

At the poker table, after George asks Billy if he knows anything about poker, he says he doesn’t. Petersen jokes neither does Mr. Givens. When Billy says this is fun, Coach Wilkins is happy he’s having a good time. The mood drops when Billy says his father never let him play cards with them and then left.

Meanwhile, in Sheldon’s room, he finally gets through to someone at Tandy Tech Support, After Sheldon says he thinks his computer has a virus, David tells him not to jump there yet as it could be lots of things. After Sheldon mentions the Disk Destroyer message that popped up, David confirms that it's a virus. After he asks Sheldon if he has ever used any unlicensed software, Sheldon says he doesn’t think he should answer before consulting an attorney. David understands, saying he plays a lot of games - not always officially purchased. He’s just there to help get the computer back up and running. An emotional Sheldon says he’s not usually a rule-breaker, but he really wanted this game and his mom said no as it’s $49.95. Tam said it was good enough that Sheldon was going to buy it eventually, so he got a bootleg copy, now he has a virus, which he very much deserves. After listening to the sudden outburst, David says, “I’m sorry, who’s Tam?”

Back in the car, as a chilly silence continues, Missy asks if anyone’s going to say anything for the rest of the night. Jana says it wouldn’t be the first time someone’s not said anything on the subject of love. Georgie gets her meaning and insists he said something, but Jana argues that didn’t count. Georgie asks for Missy’s advice: is saying “samesies” after someone says “I love you” okay? Georgie wants her to remember who took her on her secret date. After Jana says not to ask Missy as she’s just a child, Georgie points out she’s been on a date and shared a straw.

At the bar, when Meemaw asks Brenda if she’s ready to start dating again, Brenda says she needs some time. After Mary asks how it happened, Brenda laments that they used to be happy, then little by little they weren’t. Then there was bickering, then silence and then… it was all over. Mary says all couples bicker, right? When Meemaw asks if she’s worried about her and George, Mary says, “Of course.” Meemaw is sure they will be fine.

Meanwhile, at the poker table, Principal Petersen reveals that his parents broke up when he was Billy’s age. What is he, 16, 17? Billy admits he’s 11. Damn. George says maybe Billy doesn’t want to talk about this, but Coach Wilkins argues it’s sometimes good to get things off your chest. Petersen says on the bright side, Billy can look after his mom now. That’s what he did and it made a man out of him. When George says sometimes these things are for the best,  Wilkins wonders why he would say that. George admits his parents had a bad marriage and it was hard to be around.

Back in the car, after Georgie wonders if they should just call the whole night off, Jana says that’s fine by her. Missy wonders if she gets a vote. Georgie argues Jana put him on the spot and he’d never said those words before. Jana points out she hadn’t either, and it didn’t go well for her. Georgie apologizes, saying he doesn’t know what love is supposed to feel like. Jana says if he felt it, he’d know. Georgie says he knows that he likes her a lot, more than anybody else. Missy awws while Jana checks if Georgie really means it. After Georgie confirms he does, Missy tells him he can’t be this lame when Marcus is in the car.

As Sheldon’s call with tech support continues, David tells him he’ll need to format the drive and reinstall the operating system and programs. Sheldon wonders what happens to his files. They’ll be wiped too. After David asks if he has backups, Sheldon says he backs up his files every Thursday. David says perfect and tells him to start by turning the PC off and inserting the DOS disk. Sheldon wonders what happens if he backed up his files after the virus was already on his computer. In that case, they’re corrupted too, David explains, and he won’t get them back. Sheldon says all his old papers and his parents’ taxes are on there. "Sorry", says David.

Back home, Principal Petersen asks Billy if he’s ever played football. No, sir. Petersen tells him to think about it, saying he would forge a birth certificate tomorrow. Sheldon rushes into the room in a panic to tell his dad something horrible happened: he lost all the files on his computer. George is sure he can get them back, but Sheldon says he can’t and it’s all his fault. George tells Sheldon to calm down, but he says he can’t; this is a disaster. After Billy tells Sheldon it’ll be okay, Sheldon says he doesn’t understand. “They're gone. And they're gone forever. And no matter what I do, they're never coming back, so it won't be okay.” Adult Sheldon wishes he could say he realized the cruel irony of what he just said to Billy and apologized for it, but he didn’t.

Adult Sheldon explains that like a virus, heartbreak can also spread. Once it does, it's hard to contain. In some cases you can try to reboot and start over. But it makes you appreciate those early days, when your hard drive was clean... and the world was full of possibility. A montage shows a sad Sheldon laying on his bed, an upset Billy still at the poker table, Meemaw and Brenda comforting Mary at the bar, Georgie and Jana making out in the movie theater, and Marcus kissing Missy on the cheek.

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