If there was ever a recap I dreaded writing more, it was this one, the hour-long series finale of The Big Bang Theory. What this show has meant to me—and so many of you—can’t quite be summed up in an article. There are too many stories, too many photos, too many memories to properly encapsulate what it was like to welcome these hilariously weird, brilliant characters into our lives each week.
But this deadline wasn’t going to wait until I was ready (which is never), so let’s get to it. Note that this recap will be a little different because I wrote it based on the notes I scribbled down in real time during the finale taping. In other words, I didn’t have the luxury of being able to pause and rewind on my DVR. So as I recap what happened on screen, I’ll include what was transpiring behind-the-scenes at the same time. Here we go.
The first part of the episode—titled “The Change Constant”—begins at 2:45 A.M. as Sheldon, Amy, Leonard, and Penny await word from the Nobel committee about this year’s winners. We all know that Shamy is going to win—there’s no way they wouldn’t after so many episodes devoted to this storyline—but it’s still nerve-wracking.
Sheldon’s phone rings, but it’s Kripke pretending to be a committee member. “You’ve won the Nobel prize in being suckers,” he says. It’s a nice send-off for John Ross Bowie (Kripke) and, more important, helps build tension for the big moment. Howard and Bernadette call Sheldon’s phone minutes later to see if there’s any news. “We have two little kids,” they explain. “We’ve been up for an hour.”
And then, Amy’s phone rings. She picks it up, and her face has the look of someone who just had the wind knocked out of them. When she finally speaks, it’s unclear what’s just happened. “I see. OK, thank you,” she says, emotionless. And then: “We won.”
Damn, this is going to be a long hour. I’m emotional already.
Sheldon can’t believe it. He asks if he’s dreaming. Leonard slaps him, and Sheldon realizes the magnitude and reality of the moment. “We won the Nobel prize,” he screams. Mazel Tov!
The next scene begins with Sheldon and Amy walking down the stairs of their apartment. I’m a nervous because I have a cameo coming up—you can read about how that happened here—and I’m about to see the scene for the first time. All I know is that I yelled, “Dr. Cooper! Dr. Fowler” for nearly an hour straight. Oh, and the Fuller House house was down the block (they film next door).
Anyway, Amy and Sheldon walk outside and are bombarded by news crews and TV reporters (hi, me) hoping to get their reaction to their big achievement. It’s a huge moment, as Amy is only the fourth woman to ever win the Nobel in physics. I see myself running up to them in an aerial shot outside the building, and then again in a brief moment while we’re begging for a soundbite. Later, Jim Parsons says to me, “Just so you know, you’ve never been that aggressive in all the years you’ve interviewed me.” Ha, thank goodness. The scene that airs is over in a second, but that memory—cheesiness alert—will stay with me forever. I still can’t believe I got to do it.
Later in the school cafeteria, President Siebert calls Sheldon and Amy “official superstars.” Clearly he hasn’t been to my parents’ house, because they’re saying the same thing about their daughter right about now. (I kid, I kid.) It’s more than Sheldon can handle, and he makes a run for it, just like he did when he saw me playing a very heightened version of myself. He escapes to his office. Then, in one of the evening’s running gags, Howard—and later Bernadette—declare themselves Amy and Sheldon’s best friends who will do all their press on their behalf.