Remember the big, lumbering geologist named Bert who attended Sheldon and Amy’s dinner party? He won the MacArthur Fellowship, better known as the “Genius Grant.” This news awakens an ugly green-eyed monster in Dr. Cooper as he struggles with the reality that a hulking simpleton is vying for his role as the resident Caltech smarty pants. Sheldon is not only jealous of Bert’s professional success, but the attention that comes with it.
Amy has a thought: Why doesn’t Sheldon read the paper and decide for himself if Bert deserves the award? Sheldon agrees and pursues the research. His range of facial expressions prove why Jim Parsons is an award-winning actor. Penny described it best. It did look like scrolling through emojis on a phone. It also appears Bert’s work is completely legitimate. This sends Sheldon into a bigger tailspin. Like an angsty dog or sleep-deprived toddler, Leonard takes his roommate on a walk to calm him down.
While Sheldon addresses his anger issues, Howard introduces Bernadette to an old friend. He opens the swinging kitchen door, produces a remote control from behind his back, and smiles as a miniature-toy version of Stephen Hawking speeds onto the linoleum floor. Howard basks in the creativity of his invention. Bernadette points out the toy is entirely offensive. Amy and Leonard agree.
When Raj announces he’s “Team Tiny Hawking,” Bernadette suggests they call Professor Hawking to show him how funny it is when he watches a miniature version of himself get stuck under the dishwasher. Howard caves.
Meanwhile, Sheldon spies a rock on his stroll with Leonard. How in the world can someone study rocks for a living? Moreover, if rocks are so great, then how come paper beats it? Leonard encourages Sheldon to channel all of his anger into the rock. He then instructs his friend to throw it as hard as he can.
No one expected Sheldon to slam the rock directly into his own foot — and then kick another rock with his remaining uninjured foot out of sheer rage. Leonard laughs so hard he gets a nose bleed. (This is why we love Leonard.) Later, Amy reminds Sheldon of all the wonderful things he’s accomplished in his life, but it’s Penny who achieves the goal of snapping Sheldon out of his doldrums with a simple: “This is getting old, Delores. Knock it off!”
Sheldon approaches the next day with a new zest for life. Sure, he’s hobbling along like C-3PO, but that doesn’t stop him from offering Bert a proper congratulations. Bert informs Sheldon that since he’s a MacArthur winner, he can nominate someone for the award next year. He’s thinking about nominating Howard. Cue Sheldon head-butting a water fountain.
That evening, the entire gang tries to help Sheldon understand the emotion of jealousy using various examples from their own lives. Raj is jealous of the married couples. Leonard is envious of Raj’s family money. Amy longs for Penny’s beauty. And everyone hated when Penny cut her hair off. This has nothing to do with jealousy, but the series writers needed to address the issue. I think we can all breathe a sigh of relief that the dreaded haircut of season 8 didn’t turn into a Felicity situation.
Sheldon finally confesses to Bert that he’s having a hard time with his success. He thought admitting his weakness would help, but the burden is still there. Then Sheldon remembers Bert once had a crush on Amy and it must eat him up to see Sheldon with her every day. Bert thinks about this for a moment before answering, “Now that I’m rich and successful, I can do better.”
Cut to Amy wrapping a bandage around Sheldon’s hand. HE PUNCHED BERT! Well, he sort of punched Bert. It was more of a Captain Kirk karate chop, but a knight-in-shining-armor reaction nonetheless. How charming!
Also charming? Professor Hawking’s video chat with Sheldon about how he, too, struggles with professional jealousy. The silver lining is he’s been on both The Simpsons and Star Trek. He may not have a Nobel Prize or a miniature remote-control toy version of himself, but life is pretty good for this super nerd.
Amy and Leonard eye one another with an understood wall of silence. Howard will never hear of this conversation.
Sheldon: “I admire you, Leonard. You are happy with who you are. You don’t get jealous of other people. Instead of being weighed down by ambition, you just float along like a dead body down a river.”
Sheldon: “Bert did quality research.”
Howard: “Did you upgrade Sheldon’s software last night?”
Leonard: “He’s learning on his own.”
Raj: “The robot uprising has begun.”