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"The Russian Rocket Reaction" is the fifth episode of the fifth season of the American sitcom The Big Bang Theory. This episode first aired on Thursday, October 13, 2011.[1]


Sheldon is conflicted by Leonard's decision to attend his arch enemy's party, while Howard is given the opportunity to travel to space.

Extended Plot[]

Sheldon holds sword

At the sight of Wil Wheaton in the comic book store, Sheldon beholds a limited edition Game of Thrones sword replica.

Leonard and Sheldon drool over a sword from Game of Thrones. They decide to start a fantasy sword collection together and haggle Stuart down to $210 from $250. Wil Wheaton comes in to pick up a rare Batman comic and invites everybody to his house for a party where other Star Trek stars and crew will be attending. Leonard accepts while Sheldon walks out on his nemesis.

At dinner, Sheldon compares his friendship with Leonard to Schrödinger's Cat. Penny recalls Schrödinger's Cat by remembering a cat getting stuck in her brother's truck and they didn't need to open it to know whether the cat was dead or alive. Amy is quite taken with Penny: “Homespun stories, knowledge of physics, and a bosom that defies it. You're the whole package, aren't you?” Howard joins them with some big news. NASA to be included on the [[W|deep-field telescope}} heading for the International Space Station and he is going up to install it as a payload specialist. Technically, he's an astronaut. Bernadette is concerned about how safe the Russian space vehicles are and the training he has to go through.

In the car heading home, she is not happy he didn't talk to her about it first. He then starts to discuss it with him and she rejects him. She admitted her father was a cop and she had a hard time with the danger he faced wondering if he would come home every night. Howard mentioned his own father who never came back after he was eleven. Bernadette then sniped, “Oh, boo-hoo! You're not going into space!”

Back at the apartment Amy wondered how Wil Wheaton got on his list of mortal enemies as everybody groaned. Convention. 600-mile trip. Wil Wheaton would rather be the lower-left corner on "Hollywood Squares".

Back at Howard's, Bernadette apologizes for her behavior earlier and told Howard she didn't want to be the one to get in the way of his dreams. They had apparently made up until Bernadette, not willing to give up, sneaked out and told Mrs. Wolowitz about Howard's plans to go into space behind his back. She then starts yelling at him to stay on the earth. Bernadette walks back into the room, nervously smiling as she says "I'm ready". However, her actions leave Howard in horror and not in the mood to do it.

The next day, the guys are shocked that Howard kicked out Bernadette for ratting him out to his mother, with Raj congratulating his best friend for being the first one of their group to kicking girl out of bed. Sheldon, Raj and Leonard all agree that Bernadette had betrayed Howard to his mother, with Sheldon telling Leonard for seeing betrayal in others except him. Raj then asks Howard if his and Bernadette's relationship was over now. Howard doesn't know, but he does know that Bernadette will apologize and admit he can make his own choices if they want to keep moving forward. Raj then tells him the only way that will happen is that she will have to convince his mother to let him go into space, which Howard agrees to.

At Penny's apartment, Bernadette tells Penny and Amy about the other night and that she had no choice, as a "baby bird" can't go to space. Penny and Amy then tell her that she should apologize for her mistake. Hearing this, Bernadette then asks the two if she was the bad guy and they agree that what she did was wrong, making Bernadette realize, “Oh God, you're right. I took our love and threw it under his bus-sized mother!” Penny thinks Bernadette needs to fix this problem, but she wants her to make certain she loves and wants to marry “Howard Wolowitz.” Penny and Amy bite their tongues and don't say anything else about Howard's faults.

Bernadette goes to Howard in his room and asks if they could talk. Still angry, Howard says he has nothing to say after what she did. Bernadette apologizes and that she was just worried about him. Howard then tells her to stop if what anything she says isn't true, because he still is going to space. He also mentions he wanted to go to the moon, Mars, and the deepest depths of the ocean. This time she says that he got seasick on Pirates of the Caribbean. She also says the thought of losing him would be painful because she loves and cares for him deeply, while also calling him her soulmate. Howard accepts her apology and they kiss until Howard's mom yells at him that he is not leaving Earth, which again ignites Howard's anger towards Bernadette.

Leonard and Raj head to the party without Sheldon even though Brent Spiner would also be there. Sheldon does show up and Wil surprises Sheldon with his last Ensign Crusher figurine and signs it, like he should have years before, Sheldon and Wil make up and puts their past aside, Wil is now officially Sheldon's friend. Brent Spiner comes by and before Wil and Sheldon can tell him not to, opens Sheldon's mint condition package thus ending up on Sheldon's mortal enemies’ list. Wil assures him that it won't take up much of his time. Brent offers him a signed Data figure as an apology, but Sheldon refuses and leaves to hang around with Wil. Leonard asks Brent if he and Raj can have figures, and Brent says it'll cost $20 each. Leonard haggles and gets two for $30 and a birthday party invite.



  • The TV Critic: "On paper I liked the Howard-Bernadette story. She is annoyed that he didn't consult her and worried about losing him. It's enough of a motivation to explain her decision to tell Howard's mother even when she could see that she had no right to stop him herself. I like that we see her wrestling with the problem and that ultimately she realizes she was in the wrong...I'm tempted to say the writers hearts were in the right place here. The idea of Sheldon acknowledging his need for Leonard and Bernadette and Howard overcoming a problem are decent developments. But the actual script let everyone down and the results were disappointing."[2]
  • The A.V. Club gave this episode an A-[3]
  • IMDB user reviews


  • Title Reference: Bernadette's reaction to Howard going up into space in a Soyuz Rocket|Russian Rocket, as NASA has ended its shuttle program earlier that year.
  • Chuck Lorre's vanity card.
  • This episode was watched by 13.58 million people with a rating of 4.9 (adults 18–49).[4]
  • This episode aired in Canada on October 13, 2011, with 3.678 million viewers and a weekly ranking of #1.[5]
  • In the United Kingdom, this episode aired on November 24, 2011, with 1.579 million total viewers and a weekly ranking of #5.[6]
  • In Australia, it aired on October 24, 2011, with 1.369 million viewers and a weekly ranking of #5.[7]
  • Episode transcript [1]

Costume Notes[]

  • Sheldon wears his Flash distressed athletic jersey tee shirt, his Justice League "Star Power" t-shirt, his ManBot shirt (yellow on blue shirt), and the Batman Action Duo shirt.
  • Penny wears a top by Urban Outfitters, "Truly, Madly, Deeply". As with so many UO items, this item too is discontinued, and you'll have to find it used.

Truly, Madly, Deeply by Urban Outfitters


Justice League: Star Power


  • The reason why Wil Wheaton did not attend the convention Sheldon went to in 1995; he was the lower left hand corner on Hollywood Squares.
  • Brent Spiner is uncredited in this episode.
  • Brent Spiner continues the running gag that all former Star Trek actors, other than Wil Wheaton, are desperate for money.

Stuart: "Here’s the Batman 612 with the Jim Lee alternate cover that you wanted."

Batman 612 2nd Printing Sketch Variant

Batman #612 (Hush Chapter Five - The Battle) Alternate Cover.

  • Second reference that Howard may travel into space for a piece of equipment he has designed. In "The Porkchop Indeterminacy", Howard remarks, "I’m working on a project that may take me up on the next Space Shuttle." That project is possibly the deep field space telescope he designed and certainly would require years to complete. Note that his statement was uttered before the retirement of the Space Shuttle fleet (though the remaining shuttle flight missions were determined years ago) and NASA's reliance on the Russian space program and the Russian Soyuz rocket.
  • Wil Wheaton buys the ketch cover of Batman #612 with original pencils by Jim_Lee.
  • Sheldon and Leonard buy a Game of Thrones sword replica of Longclaw, sword of Jon Snow to start their fantasy sword collection. Afterward, the sword is mounted to the right of their apartment door on the accompanying plaque that reads 'Winter is Coming'. It later hangs next to the front door.
  • Leonard says, "Just Bilbo Baggins' sword over there." Sheldon then scoffs, "Two grown men with a Hobbit's dagger; wouldn’t we look silly?" In "The Precious Fragmentation" (S3E17)mi, they would not have hesitated to start their sword collection with this replica. Further, as seen in "The Middle-Earth Paradigm" (S1E6), they both like Frodo, whom also wielded this sword.
  • Stuart has Sideshow Collectibles Legolas and Gandalf Polystone Statues] at the comic book store. Howard has the latter at Bernadette's apartment in "The Contractual Obligation Implementation" (S6E18).
  • Howard's Sideshow Collectibles Aayla Secura Order of the Jedi Sixth Scale Figure and Darth Talon Premium Format Figure first appear in his bedroom.
  • Amy says Sheldon is a left-handed monkey wrench.
  • Leonard is a good negotiator and haggler.
  • Bernadette's father was a police officer and she always worried about his safety. (This comment is ironically similar to the situation in ABC sitcom, "Roseanne", where Roseanne was concerned for her sister, Jackie's safety when she became a cop. Coincidentally, Laurie Metcalf, who played Jackie, guest stars in TBBT, as Sheldon's mother, Mary Cooper and co-creator, Chuck Lorre, was once a writer for "Roseanne").
  • When Howard tells Bernadette about his father leaving him when he was 11, she surprisingly had no sympathy.
  • Sheldon has a list of around 61 enemies; contained on an old 5.25" floppy disk (he started the list at age 9). 5.25" floppy disks were introduced in 1976 by Shugart Associates as a replacement for the older, bulkier 8" disks; they were the mainstay of desktop computer data storage until they were superseded near the end of the 1980s by 3.5" disks (which themselves were made all but extinct with the advent of CD, DVD, and USB drives). Penny used to be on the list.
  • Howard is now the first out of the four guys to kick a woman out of bed.
  • Bernadette says that Howard is like a baby bird; he once had an asthma attack from reading an old library book (Sheldon threw his back out handing it to him) and he also got seasick on the "Pirates of the Caribbean" ride at Disneyland. In "The Gorilla Experiment" (S3E10), Leonard similarly found it amusing that Howard had a panic attack when he got his head caught in a sweater.
  • Leonard tells Brent Spiner to go to his birthday party, even though in the Season 1 episode "The Peanut Reaction" (S1E16), he said that he didn't celebrate his birthday. However, there are indications at the end of that episode that he intends to begin celebrating his birthday.
  • Brent Spiner as does Wil Wheaton plays an obnoxious or evil version of his real self.
  • Two well-known Star Trek writers, Dorothy "D.C." Fontana and David Gerrold, appear as background extras at Wil Wheaton's party. Gerrold is notable for writing the classic Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Trouble With Tribbles," while Fontana wrote many episodes for the original series (including the popular episodes "Tomorrow is Yesterday," "Journey to Babel," and "The Enterprise Incident"), The Next Generation (the pilot, "Encounter at Farpoint," and others), and Deep Space Nine ("Dax") and serve as Gene Roddenberry's story editor.
  • In the episode Sheldon claims the Wil Wheaton couldn't attend Sheldon's Welsey Crusher action figure signing because of The Hollywood Squares, yet when we first meet him in "The Creepy Candy Coating Corollary", he [Wil] states that he was busy at the 1995 Dixie-trek convention. This contradicts what Sheldon says here.


Leonard: For God’s sake, will you stop with the Schrödinger stuff?
Sheldon: Would you prefer a simpler application of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, in which I could either know where you are or whether I like you, but not both?

Sheldon: Mm. Tough decision. There’s no weaponry from Lord of the Rings, forged in a Chinese sweatshop?
Leonard: Just Bilbo Baggins’ sword over there.
Sheldon: Two grown men with a hobbit’s dagger; wouldn't we look silly? Okay, let’s go for it.

Amy: I don't understand, what difference does it make if Leonard goes to Wil Wheaton's party?
Penny: Well, Wil Wheaton is Sheldon's mortal enemy.
Amy: Mortal enemy?
Penny: Mm-hmm.
Amy: Sheldon, I know you're a bit of a left-handed monkey wrench, but... you really have a mortal enemy?
Sheldon: In fact, I have 61 of them. Would you like to see the list?
Penny: Oh, say no, say no, say no, say no.
Sheldon: You just got off the list, would you like back on it?

Sheldon: Interesting, that you see betrayal in others, not yourself.
Leonard: Going to Wheaton's party is not betraying you.
Sheldon: Oh, of course, you would have to believe that. Evil always thinks it's doing right. Excuse me, stormtrooper, these are the droids you're looking for.
Leonard: I'm going to a party. (Leonard is getting angry and frustrated) I'm not turning over R2D2 and C3PO over to the Empire!
Sheldon: Not yet.

Sheldon: You've already signed something Brent Spiner; your name on my list! From this moment on, you are my mortal enemy!
Wil Wheaton: Don't worry; it doesn't take up a whole lot of your time.

(The nighttime scene of Bernadette's car where Howard is driven back to his mom's house by a so completely upset Bernadette)
Howard: You’re really quiet. Is everything okay?
Bernadette: (not sounding very happy) Fine. Just a little tired.
Howard: (He is so very randy) I hope not too tired, because I’m feeling particularly masculine right now. All systems go, if you catch my drift.
Bernadette: I always catch your drift.
Howard: All right, well, something’s obviously bugging you. What is it?
Bernadette: (surprised) I just can’t believe you signed up for the space program without even talking to me.
Howard: Oh, I get it. You’re worried about me. That is so sweet. You know, there’s a saying we have at NASA. What makes the right stuff so right is that it always comes home.
Bernadette: (mutters curtly) Just stop talking, Howard.
Howard: This isn’t the reaction I expected when I told you I was gonna be an astronaut.
Bernadette: What did you think was going to happen?
Howard: Honestly? Sex.
Bernadette: Howard.
Howard: Do you realize what a big deal this is? What an honor it is to be chosen to go into space?
Bernadette: (displeased) Yeah, I get it. I just wish you included me in the decision. We’re supposed to be partners. We’re supposed to be a team.
Howard: I’m sorry. You’re right. Okay, let’s try this again. Bernadette, an opportunity has come up that impacts both of us, and I’d like to discuss it.
Bernadette: Okay.
Howard: I’ve been offered a chance to go up to the International Space Station for three weeks. What are your thoughts on that?
Bernadette: Well, first of all, thank you for including me in the decision-making process.
Howard: Hey, we’re a team. So, what do you think?
Bernadette: (shakes her head) No.
Howard: No?
Bernadette: No.
Howard: Well, why not?
Bernadette: Howard, my father was a police officer. We never knew from one night to the next if he was going to come home alive. It was horrible. And I don’t want to live that way with you.
Howard: Hey, my father abandoned me and my mother when I was 11. We never saw him again.
Bernadette: (sniping with one big burst of anger) Oh, boo-hoo! You're not going to space!
(Howard reacts at Bernadette's hypocritical reaction as she continues to drive).

(The scene of Howard’s bedroom where he and Bernadette are in bed together)
Bernadette: Howard?
Howard: Change your mind about sex? I’m still mad, but I’ll do it.
Bernadette: No, I’ve just been thinking. It doesn’t matter if I’m afraid for your safety. I don’t want to be the person who stands between you and your dreams.
Howard: Really?
Bernadette: Really. If going into space means that much to you, I will never say another word about it.
Howard: Thank you.
Bernadette: I love you.
Howard: I love you, too. So, sex now?
Bernadette: Okay. I just forgot to brush my teeth. I’ll be right back.
(She lifts herself off the bed and exits to the bathroom holding her glasses)
Mrs. Wolowitz: (After Bernadette secretly tells Mrs. Wolowitz about Howard getting accepted into a space mission) OVAH MY DEAD BODY MY SON GOES TO OUTAH SPACE!
Bernadette: (Entering Howard's room with her glasses on) I'm ready!
(We now see Howard looking at her in disbelief.)

(The scene at Penny's apartment where Bernadette and Amy are having a drink and a conference with Penny)

Bernadette: (complaining) I had no choice. I had to tell his mother. He can't go to space! He's like a little bird!
(Penny and Amy react by this)
Bernadette: Do you know he once got an asthma attack from reading an old library book?
Amy: You're kidding.
Penny: No, I was there that day. Sheldon threw his back out handing him that book.
Bernadette: I don’t know what I’m going to do. I don’t want to break up over this.
Penny: Okay, why don’t you just tell him you made a mistake?
Bernadette: (asking with sadness) Do you guys think it was a mistake? Am I the bad guy in this?
Amy: It’s not for us to judge. We’re just here to provide comfort and support while you come to grips with what a despicable thing you’ve done.
(Scene of a shocked Penny)
Bernadette: (regretfully) Oh, God, you’re right. I took our love and threw it under his bus-sized mother.
(Scene of Penny and Amy looking up at each other)
Bernadette: I need to apologize.
Penny: Well, that, that’s good. I’m glad you came to that. But before you do, let me just ask you a big picture question.
Bernadette: What?
Penny: Are you a hundred percent positive you love and want to marry Howard Wolowitz?
Bernadette: I do, with all my heart.
Penny: Got it. Just had to check.
Amy: He’s great.
(Bernadette smiles by this and she doesn't think of what else to say to this)

Sheldon: In case you have forgotten, Schrodinger’s cat is a thought experiment…
Penny: No, no, no, no, I didn't forget. Um, there’s this cat in a box and until you open it, it’s either dead or alive or both. Although, back in Nebraska, our cat got stuck in my brother’s camp trunk, and we did not need to open it to know there was all kinds of dead cat in there.
Amy: Homespun stories, knowledge of physics and a bosom that defies it. You’re the whole package, aren't you?

Brent Spiner: Oh, wow. I haven't seen one of these in years. (Rips open action figure packaging) Remember how we used to make things look like they were masturbating?

Leonard: Can we get autographed dolls?
Brent Spiner: Sure. Twenty bucks.
Leonard: Ten.
Brent Spiner: Eighteen.
Leonard: Twelve.
Brent Spiner: Sixteen.
Leonard: Two for thirty. And you come to my birthday party.
Brent Spiner: Done.

Stuart: Oh, great. More guys. It's gonna be another Wil Wheaton sausage-fest.

(the scene Howard in his bedroom sitting on his bed holding a model rocket with himself)
Mrs Wolowitz (off-camera): HOWAAAHD, BERNADETTE'S HEEAH!
(Bernadette enters Howard's bedroom)
Bernadette: Can we talk?
Howard: You can. I have nothing to say.
Bernadette: All right. I just wanted to tell you I’m sorry I said something to your mother.
Howard: I was gonna tell her eventually, but you went behind my back.
Bernadette: I know. I’m sorry. I got scared.
Howard: If you’re gonna love me, you’re gonna have to love the whole package, the tenderhearted poet and the crazy daredevil.
Bernadette: I know.
Howard: Well, don’t say it if you’re not gonna mean it, ’cause I’m not just gonna stop with the space station. Yeah, I want to go to the Moon, I want to go to Mars. I want to take a one-man sub to the lowest depths of the ocean.
Bernadette: Really? You got seasick on Pirates of the Caribbean.
Howard: Well, those big kids were rocking it.
Bernadette: I just did what I did because I love you so much, and the thought of losing you is more than I can handle.
Howard: Really?
Bernadette: You’re my soul mate. This is where you kiss me.
Howard: Right, right.
(Bernadette and Howard grin at each other)