“Training Wheels and an Unleashed Chicken” sees an unfortunate accident land Sheldon right in the middle of a metaphor for his co-dependent relationship with his mother.
This recap of Young Sheldon season 4, episode 3, “Training Wheels and an Unleashed Chicken”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
It’s a typically Sheldon Cooper problem, worrying about how fast your little legs can carry you across a college campus. It’s one of the pitfalls of graduating so young (and being opposed to sweating.) Without a healthy dose of testosterone, Sheldon isn’t going to be able to summons the necessary leg power to get himself from one class to another on time, and puberty doesn’t seem to be around the corner. He can’t ride his bike, since his training wheels might give off the wrong impression, and he can’t leave class early, since the end of the lesson is when he corrects the teacher’s mistakes. It’s certainly a predicament.
Georgie is no help, since Sheldon isn’t willing to exercise, and neither is George since he doesn’t have a black market supply of human growth hormone from his football coach days. The only remaining option is Missy, who can teach him to ride a bike. But can she? Well, not if the local chickens have anything to say about it.
And so begins “Training Wheels and an Unleashed Chicken”, which is fittingly titled, obviously. Belinda, the offending chicken, lands Sheldon in the hospital emergency room with a fractured ulna on the arm he, importantly, does the Vulcan salute with. Two weeks in a cast and he’ll be as good as new, but you know what Sheldon’s like.
Most of Young Sheldon season 4, episode 3 is about what Sheldon’s like, really, since he’s forced to use his left hand, which he isn’t used to. Naturally, he makes a massive deal out of the entire affair, and Mary consistently enables and babies him, at which point the episode becomes about their co-dependent relationship, which Jim Parsons draws attention to in the narration. When Sheldon starts dreaming of his mother’s face in his training wheels, the point is made rather loudly — his mother is his training wheels, and at some point, especially when one is growing up and going to college, the training wheels need to come off.
Suddenly, it’s Mary who’s looking for help, but Meemaw isn’t one to sugarcoat the notion that parenting is about doing a good enough job that your kids don’t need you anymore. It’s a frustrated Missy who, once again, helps Sheldon turn a corner by comparing him to Stephen Hawking. Sheldon wakes up the next morning ready for one-armed independence, and he’s so proud of his emotional growth that he even asks his dad to sign his cast (nobody has done so since Missy deliberately misspelled a get-well-soon message to annoy him.) Before long, everyone has signed it. And when it comes off, it leaves behind a much more grown-up arm.
Still, there are always dogs to worry about. As soon as the training wheels come off and Sheldon rides his bike like a grown-up for the first time, one chases him 11 miles. Welcome to the world, kid.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.