The Big Bang Theory 6.4 “The Re-Entry Minimization” Review, Discussion, Analysis

The fourth episode of the season is upon us, and with it comes the return of Astronaut Howard Wolowitz to…

JD Shrader


The fourth episode of the season is upon us, and with it comes the return of Astronaut Howard Wolowitz to Planet Earth, Sheldon bested by girls in all sorts of gaming, and Raj continuing to build upon the ambiguity of his sexuality. Let’s dive right in, shall we?

Howard returns to Earth, only to find life has moved on without him while he was away becoming an American hero. Upon his return, he finds he has confused himself with Howie Mandel, with whom he has shared a flight from Houston and showing up here in merely a passing cameo, and thinking all the fanfare was for our fellow astronaut. His Bernadette awaits eagerly to greet him, and proceeds to come down with a cold as they get home just in time for some quality time together. Laughs abound with Rauch’s Bernadette taking some Benadryl and then trying to please her long lost man, and then collapsing into a stupor and passing out on poor Howard. And this is just the beginning of a Howard-centric episode and the many disappointments he’ll go on to suffer through the next half hour episode.

In the meantime, Leonard, Sheldon, Amy, and Penny partake in a Game Night. The boys get first bested in Pictionary by the girls, and we are reminded that no matter how smart Sheldon is, his book smarts are no match for Penny’s common sense and real world experience. I really love the change of pace with this episode. Sheldon and Penny are again paired together in several hilarious scenes and forced to match gaming wits, and we even see Penny beating Sheldon in long division by way of forced dizziness. These many brief gaming scenes are stitched together fantastically, with Penny pinning Sheldon in Wrestling, and then proceeding to kiss him repeatedly all over his face. I had all kinds of trouble laughing thru this scene, as I cringed along with Sheldon, knowing his severe dislike for physical contact and the hopeless position he was in. Amy even joins in for good measure. The end of Game night finds all parties face deep in Blueberry Pie. Enough said!

Howard also returns to visit his mother, only to find that she has a visitor of the male persuasion staying over. She is unable to have her son in for a visit, and Howard is noticeably upset; and we as viewers are upset with him, as the one person who has always been there for him is suddenly unavailable. It’s a small scene with big ramifications, as we feel for Howard, everyones life having moved on without him while he was away. This is only compounded by the fact that even Raj has replaced Howard, becoming pals with Stuart while Howard served his tenure in outer space. Poor Howard couldn’t even find refuge at Leonard and Sheldon’s apartment, as Game Night was in full-on mode when he stopped by to visit, only to find the guys trying to out-eat the girls in a pie devouring contest. While no victor was ultimately crowned, our loser was certainly Howard, leaving on his own and finding solace in a diner, having his own slice of pie (ok it was cheesecake) and sitting alone, singing Elton John’s “RocketMan” as the episode comes to a close.

For me, this episode was a fantastic example of moving the show forward, with Howard coming home and dealing with the fact that life does go on despite what we go through in everyday life. The writers again touch on the Penny/Sheldon dynamic, which is always comedy gold; they also briefly push the Raj/Stuart angle forward as well. In the end, though, Simon Helberg gets his own episode, and he delivers a moving performance of his Howard character. You all know I am a fan of this aspect of the show, and I’m excited to see where we go next.

What do you guys think? Were you bored? Was it laugh out loud gaming? Hit me up and let’s discuss! @davyshrader on Twitter, or