In the episode that aired immediately prior to “The Ultimate Pi Day,” Sheldon opens the show with a recitation of pi to a thousand places for Amy, although the lucky audience only hears the final ten digits. Long suffering Amy, of course, had no interest in hearing the thousand digits of pi, although her desires (or anyone else’s) rarely interrupt Sheldon from doing what he wants to do. As he finished, he realized that he had taken the latest issue of Scientific American out of the mailbox, with coverage of the paper he wrote with Leonard earlier in season in “The Troll Manifestation.” Sheldon rattles on about not liking being interviewed because the interviewer keeps interrupting him and Amy points out that Leonard isn’t mentioned in the article at all, only Sheldon (whose name did appear on the paper first). Sheldon, of course, doesn’t have a clue as to why Leonard might not be thrilled with the article since he is ignored (or that Leonard will see the lack of reference to him as a personal slight caused by Sheldon) until Amy explains it to him, although he can’t figure out which cliché fits the situation. Eventually, Amy finds the exact way to get him to understand, and it is just as childish as would be expected.
The writers continue to handle the death of Mrs. Wolowitz in a respectful and meaningful way. Raj has joined Bernadette and Howard in a trip over to her house to sort through her possessions. Raj explains that he has experience, including the jarring realization that his uncle, a devout follower of Krishna, also had a statue of Shiva. Howard is having a hard time figuring out what he can get rid of, becoming emotional over the littlest things, such as a drawerful of ketchup packets (actually, quite reminiscent of an episode of Friends in which Ross became emotional over a box of sweeteners his deceased grandmother had collected).
Sheldon decides to grab the bull by the horns and tell Leonard that his name isn’t on the article. He does so by pointing out how each of them only have one name of various types of bills. Eventually, he comes out and just tells him about the article. Sheldon seems sympathetic to Leonard’s pain and tries to give him a massage. Leonard looks on the bright side, that they are talking about the theory and saying good things about it. Unfortunately, Sheldon can’t leave well enough alone and compares themselves to Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in the creation of Spider-Man.
Stuart is still staying at Mrs. Wolowitz’s house and he warned them that the power is out because a transformer blew. While Stuart, Bernadette, and Raj view this as a minor inconvenience, Howard is fully aware of the importance of the power outage. It means that all of the food in the freezer will have thawed and either needs to be eaten immediately or thrown out. If he was getting emotional over the ketchup packets, the thought of losing the last of his mother’s home cooking really hits home. Although Bernadette suggests refreezing it, Raj point out that doing so would cause ice crystals to form and would damage the flavor and texture of the food. Howard decides that they should have a feast and invite everyone over so his mother could feed them all one last time.
Penny tries to make Leonard feel better by pointing out that Scientific American isn’t exactly widely read or on supermarket racks, in fact, it doesn’t even have a celebrity on the cover. Her dismissal just sinks Leonard’s feelings lower and she decides to cheer him up by taking him shopping. While that works for Penny, Leonard doesn’t feel retail therapy would work for him until Penny finds a helicopter than can be controlled with an iPad (which can be purchased for as little as $30). Sheldon spoke to the reporter and discovered that it was an editorial decision to only cite the lead scientist, but since the reporter knew Sheldon’s work and only wrote about it because Sheldon’s name was on the paper. Sheldon’s attempts exasperated the problem for Leonard and now Sheldon also feels that Leonard doesn’t appreciate his attempt to make things right. Sheldon also extends Wolowitz’s invitation.
Sheldon and Amy drive to the Wolowitzes’ separately and Sheldon complains that Leonard only had an idea, but he brought it to fruition and ideas are the easy part. He then proceeds to rattle off a series of inane ideas that range from a new clothing size (Marge, between Medium and Large) and a retelling of Snow White from one of the dwarf’s points of view. When Amy points out that Leonard’s idea was good, Sheldon takes it as an attack on his less than stellar ideas. In the other car, the conversation is playing out similarly, with Leonard stating that it was his idea. Penny points out that Sheldon did do a lot of the work as well. Sheldon, meanwhile, points out that it isn’t his fault that he is better known than Leonard or that his name comes first alphabetically. However, he also reveals that when the reporter referred to him as the lead scientist on the paper, he didn’t correct the reporter, indicating that he was culpable in the lack of reference to Leonard. Eventually, though, they’ll come together at Howard’s.
Howard is excavating the many layers of his mother’s freezer, having come across the boutonniere from his prom and a piece of cake from his bar mitzvah and begins to worry just how far back things go. Earlier in the season, in “The Prom Equivalency,” we did learn that Howard attended his Prom, with either his mother as his date or just as a chaperone for the prom, depending on if you believe Bernadette or Howard. Raj runs down a list of what they have, mistaking a noodle kugel for lasagna (they are very different things) and when corrected decides noodle kugel is a “Jewish lasagna” (it really isn’t). While Mrs. Wolowitz’s cooking has generally been praised, Raj does not how heavy her pound cakes are and Howard notes that he did once get food poisoning from her cooking. As Raj begins to heat things up, Howard begins to think about his loss, as does Raj.
With the power out, Stuart has used several menorahs to light the room. Sheldon comes in and greets everyone, making sure to greet Leonard by name, exacerbating the issue. Howard and Bernadette welcome everyone and explain that dinner is meant to be a celebration of Mrs. Wolowitz’s life, which brings out the realization that in many ways she has become more of an integral character (rather than a caricature) since the her death. Penny and Amy warn Sheldon and Leonard to behave, which only lasts long enough for Stuart to ask how their joint paper is going.
Around the table, Amy decides it reminds her of a French salon, leading Sheldon to explain what a salon is to Penny in the most condescending way possible. Penny gets the idea, comparing it to The View, possibly just as a way of poking back at Sheldon, to drive the point home, Amy explains The View to Sheldon in the exact words and tone Sheldon used when talking to Penny. He knows about The View because Whoopi Goldberg played Guinan on Next Gen, and Penny promptly interrupted his condescension. Raj begins suggesting salon style topics for discussion. Raj’s first topic deals with gender equality in comics, based on Marvel making “Tor, God of Tunder” a woman. Once past the cheap jokes about Raj’s accent, Stuart notes that he has had to put a seat on the toilet at the comic book store since there are now more women reading comics. Penny thinks the discussion is stupid, but Sheldon explains that any topic is worthy of a salon, as long as the discussion is executed in a high minded manner, opening the argument with Sheldon between execution and inspiration. When Howard is pulled in, as an engineer, the execution is the important thing to him, and Sheldon suddenly finds a reason to like engineers. As their argument increases, Bernadette calls them into the living room right before Leonard throws his “weird lasagna with raisins in it” at Sheldon (no, seriously, Lasagna and noodle kugel don’t look anything alike). As Howard listens to Bernadette read them the riot act in the other room, he realizes for the first time that she can sound exactly like his mother.
And they all sit in the living room in a food stupor. Trying to digest all the food, Sheldon discovers that Physics Today mentioned the paper, and also mentioned Leonard. The assembled raise a half-hearted cheer, but nothing compared to the cheer when Bernadette appears with a large bottle of Tums.
Raj’s all too brief discussion on Thor and equality in comics could have been a much longer and more interesting discussion, especially if the writers had really taken the time to delve into what is happening in the field of comics, pop culture, cosplay, and so on, however, it would have made for a very different show and the primary purpose of tonight’s episode seems to have been on the continued farewell to Mrs. Wolowitz (and through her Carol Ann Susi), which the writers and actors are handling quite well. Sheldon’s continued adolescence and viewing the world through comic-pixellated glasses does get old at times and it is nice to see Amy trying to help him grow up in ways unrelated to his relationship with her.