Sheldon has to face the prospect of growing up too fast in “Graduation”, and there’s a last-minute reveal for Big Bang Theory fans.
This recap of Young Sheldon season 4, episode 1, “Graduation”, contains spoilers.
You might have guessed by the title, but Sheldon is good to graduate — very early. That also makes him valedictorian, which he isn’t surprised by. He’s a bit more surprised by Tam being totally unbothered by his imminent departure, though, and his missing safety goggles. You can’t go to lab class without them!
Naturally, Sheldon’s school-wide search for the goggles upsets virtually everyone he encounters, but there’s an intriguing new counterpoint now — is this how he’s going to act when he gets to college? Isn’t it about time he figured out how to deal with these kinds of predicaments on his own?
This is the theme of “Graduation”, obviously. It’s about a brilliant kid who has been coddled on account of that brilliance but has, by virtue of it, outgrown the circumstances in which he can continue to be coddled. I’m not sure this is necessarily relatable to most of us, but the idea of growing up and being required to stand on your own two feet is pretty universal — most of us just have to deal with it a few years later.
There’s also what this new achievement means to Sheldon in Young Sheldon season 4, episode 1. He had a superiority complex anyway, but there’s also the rest of his family, including perhaps most notably Missy and Georgie, who aren’t graduating from high school several years early. Yet, they still have to participate when the local news station shows up to interview Sheldon about his graduation. Missy immediately, and understandably, tries to steal the show with news of her own graduation — from elementary school — and Georgie wants to know if he can propose to his girlfriend. As Mary insists, the Coopers love all their children equally.
It’s during this interview that Sheldon’s real feelings start to overwhelm him. As it turns out, being smart doesn’t stop you from being a little boy, so wounds like Tam having already found new people to have lunch with and having to miss Professor Proton all add up. Sheldon realizes that he’s actually undecided about going to college. That night, Missy identifies the problem — he’s scared everything’s going to be different and that it’ll be hard, and he’ll miss the way it was. These are fears that she also shares, but when Sheldon asks what they should do, she responds, “I guess be scared and do it anyway.” That’s what he needed to hear. He’s ready to graduate not on the strength of his academic achievements, but because he knows he has his sister.
Hence Sheldon, rather touchingly, dedicates his graduation speech to Missy. Some of his usual arrogance creeps in, obviously, but it’s the thought that counts. They share a graduation party after all. And as grown-up Sheldon (Jim Parsons) narrates this occasion, he mentions it’s the best graduation party he ever went to, at least until the one for his son, Leonard Cooper. Sheldon wanted to call him Leonard Nimoy Cooper, but in a little cameo, Mayim Bialik as Amy chimes in to say that he’s lucky she let him call him Leonard.
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